On July 24, 1997, George Harrison visited VH1 with his old friend Ravi Shankar to discuss Shankar's new studio album, Chants of India, which Harrison had produced and played on. According to host John Fugelsang, Harrison had planned only to stop by and “give us a little 10-minute sound byte.” Instead, the "quiet Beatle" talked at length about the Fab Four, the Concert for Bangladesh, his own music and his spirituality.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that he grabbed a Martin acoustic and treated the VH1 crew to several songs, including “All Things Must Pass,” the title track from his 1970 album; "If You Belonged to Me," a song from the Traveling Wilburys' 1990 album, Vol. 3; and a new song, "Any Road," which would kick off Harrison's posthumously released Brainwashed album in 2002.
The interview and performance, most of which you can watch below, turned out to be Harrison's last; he was diagnosed with throat cancer later that year and died in November 2001. He also just barely survived an incredibly violent attack at his home, Friar Park, in December 1999.
In fact, when you consider everything that happened to Harrison after this interview, you realize you're catching one last glimpse at a healthy, happy and hirsute Harrison; he was even sporting his 1975/Extra Texture-length hair, looking considerably younger than his 54 years.
Obviously, the interview was a high point for Fugelsang, who did everything he could to keep Harrison talking, connecting with him wherever and however possible. Harrison being Harrison, he often brought things back to the connection between music and spirituality.
"That’s really why for me [Chants of India] is important, because it’s another little key to open up the within," he said. "For each individual to be able to sit and turn off, um… 'turn off your mind, relax and float downstream' and listen to something that has its root in a transcendental, because really even all the words of these songs, they carry with it a very subtle spiritual vibration. And it goes beyond intellect, really. So if you let yourself be free to let that have an effect on you, it can have an effect, a positive effect."
Below, you can watch "All Things Must Pass" (top), "Any Road" (middle) and the complete interview and performance (bottom). Enjoy!