Even though he went to the same high school as D. Boon and Mike Watt he did not meet them until around 1978. That same year, Hurley formed The Reactionaries with Boon, Watt, and Martin Tamburovich. After The Reactionaries split, George joined a Hollywood new wave band called Hey Taxi!. In 1980, Hey Taxi! disbanded at the same time the Minutemen's then drummer Frank Tonche left the band. Hurley reunited with his two former Reactionaries bandmates in Minutemen.
Hurley is also known for his distinctive hairstyle that he sported in his later Minutemen and Firehose days, a protruding clump of hair that he nicknamed "The Unit". Hurley explained in the 2005 Minutemen documentary We Jam Econo that since his limbs were all busy when he played drums, he grew "The Unit" so that his head movements were more noticeable on stage.