During a John Lennon tribute show in 2005, George Wesley claimed that he started growing his hair when Lennon was assassinated 25 years earlier and “hadn’t cut it since”. Here is but one example of this unique, original and inspirational performer who helped forge the vibrant musical scene in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Earlier this week, Wesley lost his life from liver cancer at the age of 62.
Through the years, those who saw Wesley perform solo or with one of his various groups knew that he would always put on a great show and there was always going to be a particularly peaceful and happy vibe. Drawing heavily from reggae with a nice mixture of folk and rock, Wesley’s concerts were a musical experience for those who like to enjoy themselves. He was also a very sincere and gracious performer, always taking time to thank the crowd and tell people to love each other.
George got his start at a very young age by playing alongside his father, composer Charles Wesley, in country band. In his teens, he branched out to compose and perform his original music and was soon touring throughout the Northeast. Wesley began his long recording career in the early 1980s with the Wesley-Roger Band. Later in that decade and into the 1990s, George Wesley and the Irietations was formed and gained some international recognition, recording alongside the likes of Eddy Grant. In all, Wesley went on to record about a dozen albums and played thousands of shows.
In recent years, Wesley has performed in The George Wesley Band, a four to seven member group depending on the situation, as well as the “solo” act George Wesley’s Small Axe Orchestra, where he used loops and sequencers to create a rich, symphonic sound. Wesley was also renowned for his mentoring of younger musicians in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, including his son, percussionist James Wesley.
George Wesley was a true original.