Take 5: George Harrison
February 25 marked the 75th anniversary of George Harrison’s birth. Between the later years of The Beatles and his untimely death in 2001, Harrison helped out his musical friends may times. He is credited with more than 100 guest spots – variously playing guitar (acoustic, electric and/or slide) and/or percussion, singing and even lending a production hand. These activities were all beyond his work on solo albums, the Concert for Bangla Desh, his time in the Traveling Wilburys, his work as a film producer and philanthropist. Here are five notable guest spots featuring the guitar work of George Harrison.
“Badge” from Goodbye (Cream, 1969)
The complicated personal relationship between Harrison and longtime pal Eric Clapton is well documented. But their musical associations were uniformly excellent; at George’s behest, Clapton added electric guitar on The Beatles, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and George returned the favor by playing on Cream’s “Badge,” a song with a title inspired by Ringo Starr. This guest spot was the first in which George used a playful pseudonym: this time the guitarist was billed as L’Angelo Misterioso.
“I’m Your Spiritual Breadman” from The Worst of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke (1970)
While they’re chiefly remembered only for their sole hit single, 1971’s “Resurrection Shuffle,” this British trio had a long association with Harrison. Tony Ashton had been a member of The Remo Four, a beat combo who appeared on Harrison’s soundtrack for Wonderwall. George played on that track, as well as this one from a couple of years later. On lead guitar, he was billed here as George O’Hara Smith, a moniker he also used on his own All Things Must Pass triple LP: “The George O’Hara Smith Singers” are credited with that album’s massed backing vocal choruses.
“You’re Breakin’ My Heart” from Son of Schmillson (Harry Nilsson, 1972)
Raconteur Harry Nilsson was playfully named as The Beatles’ “favorite group.” He was a core member of the rabble-rousing Hollywood Vampires drinking club, and a close friend of many in the rock world. George guested on slide guitar (credited as “George Harrysong” on this classic – if NSFW song. Sing along, why don’t you?
“If You’ve Got Love” from It’s Like You Never Left (Dave Mason, 1973)
Former Traffic guitarist Dave Mason was part of the massive musical cast on Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and George reciprocated by adding his distinctive signature slide guitar to this cut from Mason’s fourth solo album. George uses the pseudonym Son of Harry.
“That’s Life” from It’s My Pleasure (Billy Preston, 1975)
Anyone who watched Peter Jackson’s epic Get Back film knows just how important the appearance and participation of Billy Preston was to the Beatles’ recording sessions in January 1969. The former child prodigy had met the Beatles was back in their pre-fame days in Hamburg; at the time Preston was organist for Ray Charles. They stayed in touch – especially Billy and George – and Preston was eventually signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records. This track dates from after the end of his time on Apple, but old pal George (in his Hari Georgeson guise) lends support on electric guitar.