On June 16, George Harrison's first greatest-hits collection in more than 30 years was
released. The set, 'Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison,' is the only compilation that spans his entire solo career. Its
release is one of a series of current activities celebrating Harrison's legacy, starting in April when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In
September come both the Beatles' highly anticipated version of Rock Band and their re-released, remastered catalog.
talked with Harrison's widow, Olivia, about 'Let It Roll,' plans for other Harrison reissues and her late husband's obsession with taping everything.
How involved were you in picking the music for 'Let it Roll'?
More than I cared to be, to be honest, because it was nearly impossible. Everyone was fighting
and pushing and pulling. [Harrison's son] Dhani had
a list, of course, and he was, "No, you can't have this; you gotta have this." Then the record company has ideas ... I had
a two-CD set; we really honed it down [to one] ... We tried to pick something from every era.
the most gratifying part for you that there's seemingly no end in the interest in George's music, whether it's solo, with
the Traveling Wilburys or with the Beatles?
I guess just hearing his voice. I love that voice ... But you
know, [people] would say, "What would you like to be remembered for?" and [George] would say, "I don't really care if I'm
remembered" ... He wasn't trying to make himself into something that had to be remembered. If somebody takes something away,
which I think they have and obviously his music has endured, [that's fine], but if not, that's fine, too.
you listen to your husband's music a lot?
I listen to a lot of really rough recordings, cassettes and demos. George
seemed to have a tape recording going ...The other night I listened to New Year's Eve, it must have been '87. There was Joe
Brown, a great musician; and Dave Edmunds; Alvin Lee, who was a neighbor; Jon Lord from Deep Purple. We're all just hanging
out. And then we're sitting around the piano, someone has a guitar. You can hear all the wives talking, the guys are playing
and we're all singing along ...I'm like, 'Wow, who had this tape going,' you know? And George would always end up putting
it in his pocket, throwing it in a drawer, so I listen to things like that.
thought of releasing them?
No, not really, but you just sit and listen and it's sort of like you're there again.
is there no previously unreleased material on the set?
George had a "best of" that ended in 1976 -- that was
the only "best of" collection out there. That album always bothered me ... I just thought that is really not fair and I think
we have to put something in that place, and that's really what this is.
do you want someone to learn about George from this collection?
I think the basic thread that runs through it
is his guitar playing and his sentiment, which veers towards a person questioning their existence and also somebody with a
sense of humor ... And also, there's a longing, especially, like in the song 'Isn't It a Pity.' He really meant that. He used
to feel so bad when bad things would happen. I think the ultimate was a couple of months before he died was 9/11. He was so
disappointed and so heartbroken, like everyone else.
there be a Volume Two of the greatest hits? There are omissions here like 'Dark Horse' or 'Crackerbox Palace.'
'Dark Horse,' I will remaster that, but there's a lot of peripheral material to that and I don't want to just do the album
and put it out without everything ... There's photographs, there's artwork, there are a lot of things that could go into that
to make it a really nice package. But to actually put the music out because they fans want it ... if they wait, I can make
April, George received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What would he
think about that?
think by this point he would have been OK. But there was a point, sort of in the '90s, he was enjoying himself so much not
doing anything in the public eye, he might not have done it. But you know, we want to give him a star and so that's too bad,
George, you're going to have it [Iaughs]. He would always say, no matter what it was, "Oh that's nice." Sometimes
people would make up an award and send it because they like him and he'd go, "Oh, that's nice." And he'd kind of put it on
the table and it would just be there. Probably people don't realize that he did appreciate it whether it was the biggest award
in the world or the smallest little award or a flower left in the gate ... He might have some hokey little thing beside an
Oscar on the shelf and it was all the same to him.
Beatles: Rock Band game comes out in September. How involved were you?
Oh, we [Olivia, Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney
and Ringo Starr] were all very involved. The technical things you leave to Harmonix and EA because that's what they do, but
little things like, you know, the shape of the face and certain things, the nose: "His chin wasn't like that" ... There was
a point where I had to say, "Hang on a minute, it's a game. They're not trying to re-create him here." But you wanted it to
be nice and you wanted it to reflect a look. They're very cute.
gave an interview where he said there may be some unreleased Beatles songs in the game. True?
I don't think that
was an accurate quote, actually.
the answer is no, then?
I think what is it is there's a lot of [unreleased] dialog that was given from the [recording]
sessions and that has been used ... They had hours and hours of studio talk, so they were able to incorporate that.