George Harrison

1943 -2001
 When We Was Fab


George Harrison looks back at the
days when he played lead guitar in
The Beatles, the greatest rock and
roll band the world has ever
known.


Part 1
            "So, you're a real loony too," laughs George Harrison, with that 
            familiar droll, nasal Scouse (as they call it in Liverpool) accent. 
            "Remember lying in that room all day, needle in your arm, feeling 
            dazed, staring up at that ugly lime green ceiling?"
            Well, yes, actually I do. And no, we weren't shooting dope together 
            in some dive. The lead guitarist for the most important group in 
            rock history is reminding me of when we met a few years back in Dr. 
            Sharma's clinic in London. Sharma is an M.D. who is also an 
            internationally recognized expert in alternative medicine - in 
            particular, homeopathic and Indian Ayurvedic medicines - and it was 
            these treatments that appealed to Harrison's Eastern philosophical 
            bent.
            Her waiting room looked like backstage at Live Aid: Tina Turner and 
            members of the Police, Pink Floyd - and of course an occasional 
            Beatle - were drifting in and out. Through Sharma, I'd been promised 
            an interview with George, and now - 10 years later - we were finally 
            sitting down to talk. It was late 1992, and George was promoting 
            "Live in Japan" (Warner Bros.), the concert album of his 1991 tour 
            with Eric Clapton and the last album he has released to date.
            So why is this interview finally finding its way into print eight 
            years after the fact? Simple: it was lost. Parts had appeared in 
            "Guitar World" and other places, but the body of the tape 
            disappeared when the famous 1994 L.A. earthquake turned my apartment 
            into a cosmic Cuisinart.  
            Recently, while I was cleaning out a closet, the long-lost tape 
            literally fell into my lap. The timing couldn't have been better: 
            "All Things Must Pass," Harrison's superb 1970 solo album, has just 
            been issued in a remastered and expanded format. What's more, the 
            massive "Beatles Anthology" (Chronicle Books) has once again put the 
            Fabs back in the limelight; but while the book is crammed with 
            minutiae that will fascinate anyone with any interest in the 
            Beatles, it contains little information on how the group created its 
            music, the source of its internal conflicts or how those two 
            elements interacted over the years.
            I found that Harrison needed a bit of prodding before he would 
            discuss the band's inner turmoil. Once he opened up, though, he gave 
            a most revealing and candid interview in which he expressed his true 
            feelings for his fellow band mates. Although Harrison was the first 
            lead guitarist to become an equal in a major band (pre-Beatles 
            guitarists like Scotty Moore, from Elvis Presley's band, were 
            clearly hired guns), he was sandwiched between the two most towering 
            songwriters in rock history - and they often wanted to control his 
            playing - or even do it for him. And of course, getting a decent 
            hearing for his songs was no picnic either.
            Perhaps it is for these reasons that Harrison has a reputation as 
            the most dour of Beatles; yet he was witty and upbeat during our 
            talk. He forgave Paul McCartney's controlling tendencies and John 
            Lennon's indifference - but, it was clear, he hasn't forgotten. He 
            seemed emotionally evenhanded, even when angry, balancing the good 
            with the bad and always seeing the positive dimension to all his 
            struggles.
            "I'm a Pisces, you know," he joked. "One half always going back 
            where the other half has been."
            George was also surprisingly willing to talk about The Beatles from 
            the unique perspective of a guitarist as well as that of ►a composer. 
            He told how he developed a guitar style that combined the music of 
            the Mississippi Delta with that of India's Ganges Delta, thereby 
            creating his distinctive sound. He spoke of his relationships with 
            Lennon and McCartney: who was more stimulating - and difficult - to 
            work with, and why. He also described how he sneaked Eric Clapton 
            into the studio to rescue one of Harrison's greatest songs, "While 
            My Guitar Gently Weeps." And he answered the long-standing question 
            about whether he was bored during the making of "Sgt. Pepper's."
            This may well be the most comprehensive, free-ranging discussion 
            Harrison has ever granted on his years with the Beatles. So, now, 
            here's the man from the band you've known for all these years: Mr. 
            George Harrison.

4 Part 2