In the history of impromptu jams, this is one of the weird ones: George Harrison performing the Little Richard song “Lucille” onstage with Deep Purple in Sydney, Australia, on December 13, 1984—31 years ago today.
We have to admit, we weren’t aware of this one. Our thanks to Ultimate Classic Rock for pointing it out on their site earlier today.
As they note, Harrison was friends and later neighbors with Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and late keyboardist Jon Lord.
“We were very close, I adored him,” Lord once said of Harrison to Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. “He was one of the most delightful of men.”
Lord and Harrison met in London back in the Sixties, at the Beatles’ short-lived Apple fashion boutique. Both Lord and Paice worked with Harrison on various post-Beatles projects. Lord also appeared on Harrison’s 1982 Gone Troppo album, and on his posthumous 2002 album, Brainwashed.
As it happened, Deep Purple were in the midst of a rebirth at the time of this show. The previous April, eight years after Deep Purple broke up, the classic early Seventies line-up of Lord, Paice, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover reformed. In October that year, the group released Perfect Strangers, the album for which they were touring at the time of this show.
It’s not clear why Harrison was in Australia at the time. He purchased a home on Hamilton Island in Queensland in the early Eighties, so it’s likely that he was living there at the time of Deep Purple’s show and decided to catch up with his old friends.
As the video opens, Harrison is being introduced to the audience, announcing that he is “Arnold, from Liverpool.” From there, the group launches into a very loose jam of “Lucille.” The song would have been quite familiar to Harrison: He and the Beatles performed it regularly in their early stage shows, as well as on the BBC during the early years of Beatlemania.