George Harrison

Highly Appreciated


George Harrison  (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.  One of Harrison’s compositions, “Something” became the Beatles’ second-most-covered song.  By 1965 he had begun to lead the Beatles into folk rock through his interest in the Byrds and Bob Dylan, and towards Indian classical music through his use of the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”.  After the band’s break-up in 1970, Harrison released the triple album All Things Must Pass, from which two hit singles originated.  He also organised the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh with Indian musician Ravi Shankar.  In 1988 co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.  He is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee – as a member of The Beatles in 1988, and (posthumously) for his solo career in 2004.  (More from Wikipedia)
There have been so many great guitarists that I have enjoyed hearing over the years, for many different reasons:  The old-fashioned blasts of Chuck Berry and Keith Richardsthe unexpected dexterity and ear of Bob Dylan and Glen Campbell, the pounding virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman, the nearly unsung anonymity of Tommy Tedesco and Jerry Cole, the steady precision of George Harrison and Tom Petty, the sheer power of Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi, the blues-based thunder of Jack White and Eddie Van Halen, lesser known greats like Nikki Sudden and Chris Spedding, and so many more.
(August 2011)
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The most famous lawsuit that I know of in the rock world involves “My Sweet Lord”, a hit single from George Harrison’s 1970 double-album All Things Must Pass that became the best-selling single in Great Britain in 1971.  Bright Tunes Music Corporation – which owns the rights to the Ronnie Mack song, “He’s So Fine”, a major hit for the Chiffons in 1963 – filed suit in February 1971, saying that My Sweet Lord plagiarized that song.  The lawsuit didn’t go to trial for another five years, and the judge ruled that George Harrison had “subconsciously” plagiarized the earlier Chiffons song.  
At that point, the case took a bizarre twist:  George Harrison’s one-time manager Allen B. Klein had purchased Bright Tunes, so he was now the plaintiff.  Klein arranged a settlement whereby Harrison himself would purchase the Bright Tunes company for the same price that Klein had paid – $587,000 – and that would be the end of it.  Although litigation would continue for more than 10 additional years, this decision was eventually upheld. 
George Harrison released the fairly bitter “This Song” about his experience during the lawsuit; it became a minor hit as the first single from his 1976 album Thirty-Three and a 1/3.   
(August 2012)
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Finally, I have a recommendation to go with my confession earlier.  If any of you are still signed up with Netflix, you should add the 1994 film Backbeat to your queue.  It is the early history of the Beatles mostly when they were in Hamburg, Germany and primarily follows Stu Sutcliffe (played by Stephen Dorff), an old friend of John Lennon who was in an early incarnation of the band.  Long before they were famous, Sutcliffe was drawn into photography and found a love; he died tragically young before his 22nd birthday.  Along the way, you meet Paul McCartney (the two actors who play John and Paul are dead ringers), George Harrison, and even Ringo Starr, who was hanging around the group even though he wasn’t in the band yet.  Actually the words “the Beatles” were only spoken once during the entire movie; John Lennon mostly just called them “the band”. 
The idea is that, in those days, the Beatles were the world’s greatest punk rock group, so the band that they lined up to play the music was drawn from the top American alternative rock bands of the day, like the Afghan Whigs, Soul AsylumR.E.M., and Sonic Youth.  The drummer was Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, who later became the front man for Foo Fighters (sadly, I believe that I read that they have gone on a hiatus).  However, he still hits the skins from time to time for bands like Queens of the Stone Age.  Highly recommended. 
(September 2012)
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The impact of this one Elvis recording can hardly be overstated.  Heartbreak Hotel was one of the biggest influences on John Lennon that inexorably led to the formation of the Beatles


John Lennon is not the only British rock legend who was similarly affected by Heartbreak Hotel.  George Harrison was only 13 and riding his bike past a friend’s house when he overheard the song being played in 1956; he said the song gave him a “rock and roll epiphany”.  The following year, Harrison auditioned to be the guitarist for John Lennon’s early band the Quarrymen


(June 2013/1)

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Phil Spector perfected his renowned “Wall of Sound” technique while making girl group records, where massive amounts of music were recorded together with a subtle echo effect.  “Sleigh Ride” by the Ronettes and “Da Doo Ron Ron” by the Crystals are cited as being prime examples of this technique.  Phil Spector himself says that he reached his peak with the recording of “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina TurnerGeorge Harrison has called that song “a perfect record from start to finish”. 


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Fanny” is an interesting slang term:  Here in North America, the reference is to the buttocks (hence the cover shot on their first albumFanny); but in the British Commonwealth, it means the female vulva.  Former Beatle George Harrison is the one who suggested the name Fanny to producer Richard Perry; the bandmembers themselves were not aware of its meaning on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean until much later. 


(October 2013)


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By contrast, the people at Gear Fab Records – one of the better reissue record companies – are quite enthusiastic about HomerGalen Niles was brought in to write the liner notes for the 2012 CD, Homer.  (The record company name comes from two Beatles-era expressions for “cool”; both are featured in the background singing on “All Those Years Ago”, the 1981 George Harrison song honoring recently assassinated John Lennon and also featuring the other two living Beatles in the band).  


(April 2014)


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Cream officially broke up in July 1968, though the band performed in England as late as NovemberCream’s final album, Goodbye was drawn primarily from concert recordings at The Forum in Los Angeles on October 19, 1968, but it also included a studio version of one of Cream’s finest performances, “Badge” (co-written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison).  


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Shortly after Blind Faith broke up, Eric Clapton began playing as a sideman with a completely different group, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, a rock/soul collaboration of Delaney Bramlett and his wife Bonnie Bramlett with a whole parade of musicians:  Besides ClaptonWikipedia lists Duane AllmanGregg AllmanGeorge HarrisonLeon RussellBobby WhitlockDave MasonRita Coolidge, and King Curtis 


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Eric Clapton continued to keep a relatively low profile in order to counter the star worship that he was attracting.  In 1970Eric Clapton assembled another band consisting of the rhythm section from Delaney & Bonnie and Friends – Bobby Whitlock (keyboardist and vocals), Carl Radle (bass) and Jim Gordon (drums) – plus Dave Mason on guitar.  This quintet backed George Harrison on his monumental solo album, All Things Must Pass 


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After appearing only at the Concert for Bangladesh that George Harrison organized in 1972Pete Townshend of the Who brought together an allstar line-up for a 1973 concert intended to bring Eric Clapton out of hiding and to help him kick his habit.  Known as the Rainbow Concert, musicians on hand include Rick Grech and Stevie Winwood from Blind FaithJim Capaldi (who had co-founded Traffic with Winwood), Anthony “Reebop” Kwaku Baah (a percussionist from Ghana who played with Traffic and also the German band Can), Ron Wood (then in Faces), and drummer Jimmy Karstein (who was on hand for the final album by Buffalo Springfield). 


(May 2014)


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The above photo of the Rolling Stones from Mad magazine is one that I remember well from my younger days, not because the gag was all that great – the balloon quote from Mick Jagger is:  “I’d like people to consider me as something more than ‘just another pretty face’!” – but because the band was apparently at some sort of news conference, and there were name tags in front of each of them.  Almost as soon as we heard about the Beatles, we knew their names, “John, Paul, Georgeand Ringo”, and even casual fans typically knew the surnames as well.  But it wasn’t like that with the Rolling Stones
(May 2015)
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George Harrison had something to say about Yesterday as well:  “Blimey, he’s always talking about that song.  You’d think he was Beethoven or somebody!”.  Producer George Martin also talked about the song at a later date:  

“‘[Yesterday]’ wasn’t really a Beatles record and I discussed this with Brian Epstein:  ‘You know this is Paul’s song . . . shall we call it Paul McCartney?’  He said ‘No, whatever we do we are not splitting up the Beatles.’”


(June 2015)


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One thing about Kum Back that I didn’t particularly like was the seemingly endless performance of “Teddy Boy”; unlike most of the songs on the album that became part of the Beatles’ Let it Be album, Teddy Boy was instead released as a song on Paul McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney – this album actually came out in April 1970, the month before Let it Be.  (McCartney is not the first solo album by a Beatle though; Wonderwall Music, a soundtrack album of Indian classical music for a film called Wonderwall, was released in November 1968 by George Harrison).
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As to the Beatles’ attitudes toward the Let it Be . . . Naked reissue, Wikipedia notes:  “[Paul] McCartney in particular was always dissatisfied with the ‘Wall of Sound’ production style of the Phil Spector mixes of three tracks, especially for his song ‘The Long and Winding Road’, which he believed was ruined by the process.  George Harrison gave his approval for the Naked project before he died.  McCartney’s attitude contrasted with [John] Lennon’s from over two decades earlier.  In his December 1970 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Lennon had defended Spector’s work, saying, ‘He was given the s--ttiest load of badly recorded s--t – and with a lousy feeling to it – ever. And he made something out of it. . . .  When I heard it, I didn’t puke.’  Harrison and Ringo Starr also remained complimentary about Spector’s contribution, with Starr saying:  ‘I like what Phil did. . . .  There’s no point bringing him in if you’re not going to like the way he does it – because that’s [Wall of Sound] what he does.’” 
(September 2017)
Last edited: April 3, 2021