Despite his success and apparent confidence, George Harrison was very insecure about many things in his life and was “paranoid” about whether people liked him.
The spiritual Beatle was a walking contradiction. He said for a minute the Beatles had achieved a lot and had a positive impact on society. The next he claimed they weren’t that great.
George also said that being a Beatle was hard because Paul McCartney and John Lennon pushed him and his songs aside. However, he also said that he was okay with his position in the band because he didn’t like being outspoken.
Nonetheless, nothing helped George when he wanted to put songs on the Beatles’ records. He wasn’t competitive. Also, Paul and John’s constant underestimation hurt George’s self-esteem, which was a huge contradiction. Paul said George was cocky and confident when they were kids. That confidence didn’t fade into adulthood, no matter how bad his insecurities were.
In George Harrison: Behind the locked door of Graeme Thomson, George’s first wife, Pattie Boyd, said: “He was very secure in himself and that security comes only from a very close and loving family as a child.”
Still, George’s insecurities lurked deep inside him and seemed to surface when he was about to do something big. He doubted one of his most famous songs, “Something,” would sell.
In Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene wrote, Boyd was “accustomed to his insecurities. He had been an enigma to her ever since she had known him, sometimes confident, sometimes doubting he could do something right.
“When they met, he had instilled in her, as he had in thousands of young women and men, the excitement of being a superstar. At the time, it seemed unthinkable that beneath the fame lived someone who had such self-doubts. The psychology of man was so much more complex than his picture.”
In 1977, George Crawdaddy (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters) that he was pushed aside with the Beatles and made him paranoid that the tracks on his solo album All things must pass were not good.
“I was really a little bit paranoid, musically,” he said. “This whole thing with the Beatles made me really paranoid. I remember having these guys in the studio and I was like, ‘God these songs are so fruity! I don’t know what song to do.’
“Slowly, I realized, ‘We can do this,’ and I played it to them and they were like, ‘Wow, yeah! Great song!’ And I would say, ‘Really? Do you really like that?'”
In 1974, George’s self-esteem plummeted during his solo tour of the United States. Deeming playing his old Beatles tunes hypocritical, George’s audience turned against him. However, his spirituality helped him.
“He remembered a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: We should create and preserve the image of our choice. My chosen picture isn’t Beatle George, he thought. My life belongs to God. That’s how I feel.”
George wasn’t too good at maintaining the image he wanted. He made several mistakes and let his insecurities out. One of George’s most shocking gaffes happened in 1992 during his final performance at a benefit concert for the Natural Law Party, a political group formed by followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
“Thank you very much,” he told the audience (per Greene). “It really overwhelms me, you know. I’m always very paranoid about whether people like me, I don’t know.” Greene wrote, “Even in 1992, after a quarter-century of meditation and yoga, he was struck by insecurity.
“You always seem very self-deprecating about your songwriting,” said one reporter. George replied: “Self-deprecating. The story of my life.”
George’s insecurities surfaced again when he received Billboard’s first Century Award for Musical Achievement. During his speech, he said: “I don’t know why I got it, someone like me. Bob Dylan should get one too.”
Friend and drummer Andy Newmark told Greene that George also became paranoid during the shows. George was paranoid about everything that goes into a show. That’s one of the reasons he chose not to perform.
“He was a problem child,” Newmark said. “He reached out to musicians he invited to play with him and said, ‘Do you like that? Do you have fun?’ When something was wrong, he asked himself, ‘What did I do wrong?’ In everyday life he could get quite nervous.”
In fact, George was insecure about one of the most solid things in his life, his spirituality. On the one hand, George was willing to alienate his audience by singing to Krishna during his audience dark horse Tour in 1974. He kept his spiritual image. On the other hand, George didn’t want people to hate him for being spiritual.