By Ed Mitchell
As this year marks the tenth anniversary of George Harrison’s untimely death, friends, family and fans are celebrating the life of the Liverpool lad who changed the world as a member of The Beatles. While the recent Martin Scorsese directed movie “Living In The Material World” documents George’s life and career, Gretsch has repaid its debt to its highest profile ambassador with the Signature and Tribute versions of his beloved ‘57 Duo Jet. Now it’s our turn with five fab George moments.
“Till There Was You” (live)
(Anthology 1, 1963)
The Beatles’ televised appearance at The Royal Variety Performance in London on November 4 1963, made them stars overnight and lit the fuse of Beatlemania. George’s Gretsch G6122 Country Gent-driven solo on “Till There Was You” reveals what an accomplished and confident guitarist he was in his early 20s. Playing eight hour sets in the tough clubs of Hamburg in the early Sixties paid off big time.
(Abbey Road, 1969)
Crafted over the course of five separate recording sessions in studio 2 Abbey Road and Olympic Sound Studios in London, “Something” represents the point when George reached the same glorious heights of songwriting ability as John and Paul. The solo, played on “Lucy,” the red ’57 Gibson Les Paul gifted to him by Eric Clapton, is as melodically perfect as the song. Even if George was never quite happy with it.
“My Sweet Lord”
(All Things Must Pass, 1970)
Yes, “My Sweet Lord” sounds like the Chiffons’ 1962 hit “He’s So Fine.” The judge said so and George paid up. That controversy aside, the tune is probably the best-known and loved of George’s solo years. Not everyone enjoys the religious sentiment of “My Sweet Lord” but we can all appreciate George’s beautiful slide guitar hook. No one played slide quite like him.
“This Is Love”
(Cloud Nine, 1987)
George’s latter career is peppered with melodic slide guitar performances on songs like “Cheer Down” and the Traveling Wilburys classic “Handle With Care.” “This Is Love,” the third single from his 1987 comeback album Cloud Nine contains some of the most beautiful slide parts he ever laid down. If that intro doesn't make you shiver, check your pulse...
Realizing the end was near, George worked as hard on the Brainwashed album as he could before leaving instructions for his son Dhani and friend and producer Jeff Lynne to finish it when he was gone. In that context, his poignantly beautiful slide instrumental “Marwa Blues” can bring a tear to the eye. Actually, in typical George style, his performance on the song is equally uplifting.