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Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison Paperback – December 13, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Harrison was generally known for his spirituality and embrace of Hinduism. Tillery examines Harrison's lyrics, life, and writings and convincingly explains their place--contradictions and all--within Hinduism and within Harrison's personal spiritual quest. The writing is clear and concise but occasionally veers into near proselytizing as Tillery extends his discussion beyond that for which he finds direct evidence in Harrison's work. This is a clear, generally well-documented, and fairly short read that will find favor among Harrison and Beatles fans. Recommended." --James E. Perone, Univ. of Mount Union, Alliance, O
, Excerpted from: Library Journal


"Author Gary Tillery's approach is warmly human, free of the fawning but insolent tone of most rock biographers. He frankly discusses the role of drugs in leading Harrison to mystical insight but emphasizes that he soon renounced psychedelics as a means to the spiritual path. Tillery's engaging narrative depicts Harrison as a sincere seeker who acted out of genuine care for humanity and used his celebrity to be of service in the world. Fans of all generations will treasure this book for the inspiring portrayal it gives of their beloved "quiet" Beatle.
" --Excerpted from: DailyOm.com


"Tillery (The Cynical Idealist) traces Harrison's mystical journey back to an acid trip in April 1965 in which Harrison realized that he had embraced, and been embraced by, the divine. From that moment, he discovered an affinity with Hinduism. Tillery dutifully treads well-worn territory in narrating Harrison's relationships with sitarist Ravi Shankar, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swami Prabhupada, as well as Harrison's deep engagement with the writings of Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi) and other Hindu spiritual teachers. Harrison's songs, Tillery points out, strive to awaken us to the truths that he saw quite clearly: "to burn out our past karma, to become aware of our divinity, and to break free of eternal return." --Excerpted from: Publishers Weekly

"Having first known him back in the days when he was called only 'the quiet Beatle,' it thrills me no end that George's inner journey has now been so splendidly chronicled.
" --Victor Spinetti


"From the early days I noticed George had an inner talent he hadn't seemed able to unlock. I actually encouraged him to begin writing again after he seemed blocked by the song-writing success of Lennon & McCartney. I saw how he became the member of the Beatles most stretched by his friends, his philosophy and his search for meaning....a meaning which he eventually discovered. Gary Tillery has captured George's spiritual odyssey in his latest work, which enables us to take the journey with him to unlock the secrets, move aside the veil and gain a remarkable insight. It provides an invaluable companion to his recent work on John Lennon The Cynical Idealist.
" --Bill Harry, Founder of Mersey Beat

About the Author

A native of the Southwest, Gary Tillery was born in Phoenix in 1947. In 1968-69 he served in Vietnam with the United States Air Force. His enlistment was over in 1970. After two decades in the business world, primarily as co-owner of an advertising agency in suburban Chicago, he turned his time and energy to his lifelong passion for literature and art. He published a collection of interrelated short stories set in Vietnam titled "Darkling Plain", and began a series of humorous novels featuring "soft-boiled" detective Jack Savage--the first two titled Death, Be Not Loud and To An Aesthete Dying Young. Tillery is also a professional sculptor. His most prominent work is the sculpture for the Vietnam Memorial in Chicago. He also created the bronze bust of Steve Allen for the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood; and through his association with the Rotblatt-Amrany Studio he created, among other works, the life-size bronze of Luis Aparicio at U. S. Cellular Field.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835609006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835609005
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been a writer all my life, working in both nonfiction and fiction.

My fascination with "the intellectual Beatle," John Lennon, led me to write The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon. The book was published by Quest Books in 2009 and has been translated into German, French, Portuguese, and Danish. It was named the Official Book of the 2010 John Lennon Tribute in New York City.

In 2011, I followed up its success with a study of "the quiet Beatle," titled Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison. And in 2013 I added a third book in the "Spiritual Biography" series--The Seeker King, focusing on Elvis Presley.

Fiction-wise, I've chronicled the adventures of "soft-boiled" detective Jack Savage in three comic novels -- Death, Be Not Loud, To an Aesthete Dying Young, and She Stalks in Beauty. (Poor Jack, perpetually a square peg in a world of round holes.)

In a more literary vein, my book Darkling Plain is a collection of interwoven short stories set in Vietnam--some coming from my imagination, some of which I heard while I served there, and some based on my own experiences. The book examines the impact of America's most traumatic war on a young airman.

I have also published poetry -- Through a Dark, Glassly, as well as a collection of haiku titled 50 Epiphanies. In 2014, to commemorate a century of baseball at the Chicago Cubs' ballpark, Wrigley Field, I published The Ghosts of Wrigley Field. It recounts, in poetic form, some of the memorable events that have taken place in the legend-filled stadium used by the Cubs since 1916.

I am a native of the Southwest, born in Phoenix. I served in Vietnam with the U. S. Air Force in 1968-69, then returned to Arizona for a Bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies from ASU and a Master's degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management. After two decades in the business world, primarily as co-owner of an advertising agency in suburban Chicago, I refocused my time and energy on my lifelong passion for literature and art.

I am also a professional artist. My most prominent work is the sculpture for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Chicago. I also created the bronze bust of Steve Allen for the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, co-sculpted the statue of Pat Tillman for the Arizona Cardinals, and have displayed in galleries from Pennsylvania to New Mexico and appeared in shows as far away as Shanghai. My works are in the private collections of Patricia DuPont and General Tommy Franks, and the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago holds two pieces in its permanent collection.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. Etherington on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have read almost every book available on George Harrison, but would highly recommend this new volume by Gary Tillery. Although the book is only 200 pages long (with the main text ending at page 156) it covers all of the key factors in Harrison's life, and the Hamburg era is brought more alive than in any of the books that I have read previously. Tillery adds original detail to certain stages (including Harrison's lesser-known relationships, the Traveling Wilburys, and the attack at Friar Park). His fresh and lucid style of writing made the book hard to put down, and that's no mean feat considering I've only recently seen Martin Scorsese's "Living in the Material World" movie. The main purpose of the book is to outline Harrison's spiritual journey, and Tillery adequately summarises the essentials of George's Hindu beliefs, and involvement with the Krishna Consciousness movement. However these areas are covered at an accessible length, allowing adequate space for everything else. The book appears to be factually accurate throughout (and I say that, having researched Harrison's life for a published article of my own). Tillery states February 24th 1943, 23.42pm as Harrison's birth time, even though there is some debate about this. Nonetheless, this is the time that Harrison himself believed he was born, and also a time that I believe to be astrologically accurate. The book includes a chronology, notes, bibliography and index. In summary, I was highly impressed by "Working Class Mystic", and am now reading Gary Tillery's book on John Lennon.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on December 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have an extensive Beatles, McCartney and Harrison library and avidly seek out new books on George Harrison. This book is truly a gem in the crown of Harrison biographies. This book, like many others does an EXCELLENT job of covering salient points in George Harrison's life. Readers feel as if they were in Hamburg with the pre-Beatles of 1960-61.

Tillery does an incredible job of adding fresh information and presenting well-documented, well-known facts about Harrison's life in this book. George's musical career, from the time he was a wavy haired youngster in Liverpool bowled over by Elvis in 1956 and acquiring his first guitar to the Traveling Wilburys in the late 1980s to his solo works post-dating that including the traumatic attack he suffered at the end of 1999. Tillery has a clear, diamond sharp writing style and he speaks to his readers' intelligence. Beatle fans from the inveterate to those just new to their music to those who just plain enjoy a good biography will find a real treasure in this book.

Tillery presents even the most well-documented facts in a fresh and shining light. Fans who have enjoyed Martin Scorsese's brilliant documentary "Living in the Material World" will just love this book. George, who went from Catholicism (Louise French Harrison was Catholic and Harold Sr. was a non-practicing Anglican) to embracing Hindu beliefs is a long & winding road always worth exploring. Hard-core Harrison fans know that Louise had George baptized when he was a month old and that at 11, George would become disenchanted with how people show cased their clothing in church and how difficult it was for him to believe that only Jesus was God's Son. Still, roots of his Catholicism remained with him all of his life.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Anne Masterson VINE VOICE on December 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
With the five star reviews, I was really looking forward to this book. I read it in less than two hours as it is very slim (156 pages). Perhaps the author had the bad timing of releasing this book around the time of the far and away superior documentary by Martin Scorcese.

Rather than portray George as a flawed man who tried his best (which is, after all, the best any of us can do), he portrayed him as a near deity himself. While I did pick up a few tidbits of information I did not know before, much of the book came from other sources a serious George Harrison fan would know. Also, the book is riddled with errors, such as how the Traveling Wilbury's first came to be and whether Eric Idle was with Geoger right after his attack (based on Eric Idle's own interview). If you have tht two hours to spare, watch the Scorcese documentary instead. You will come away with a much fuller picture.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By marcia abcarian on April 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The time period and subject (George Harrison)of this book are interesting but the author seems like he is just piecing together bits of information he has gotten from other sources and does not really have a feeling for or understanding of it all. I expected the book to be more inspiring .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shelby on July 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Opens your eyes to the spiritual drive of George Harrison and shares intimate moments and emotions. A great read for those fascinated by George's mysticism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By susan adler on March 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Easy read and somewhat insightful of George Harrison's life. Not a lot of detail but did go into his spiritual side enough to explain some things about George's perspective on life.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rose Heinrich on May 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I discovered meditation while reading about George harrison and I am now in love with life. I live for today, and this book added more research to my love of this subject.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tetleylee on September 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An informative and interesting biography of George Harrison, focusing on his spirituality and religious development. It covers his early, mind altering experience with LSD through to his journeys within the ancient wisdom of India in search of holy men and enlightenment, including his extensive use of chanting and meditation and the influence of the Bhagavad Gita on his life and music. The book provides good coverage of his Beatles years and George's complicated, sometimes conflicted, relationships with John, Paul and Ringo, as well as his enduring superstar friendships and musical collaborations with the likes of Dylan, Clapton and Elton John. Tillery does not shy away either from the darkness and illusion that sometimes pervaded George's life, in his attempt to overcome the prisons of egoism. Although there is a sense of real tragedy over the manner and timing of George's death, this book also leaves the reader with the belief that he also found love and peace in life through his religion, close relationships and making music, and that by the end, George Harrison truly was heading for the light.
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