Martin Cooper looks at the influential style of the legendary Beatle guitarist and charttopping solo artist, George Harrison.
Martin Cooper focuses on George Harrison’s post-Beatles playing style, including slide.
George Harrison was a hugely important member of The Beatles and some of their best songs were written by him, not Lennon and McCartney. something, while My Guitar Gently weeps and Here Comes The sun were all penned by Harrison, and George also played unforgettable intro parts and solos to countless great Beatles songs.
Harrison may have been the ‘quiet’ Beatle, but his contribution to the band’s output was nonetheless vital. He also had a successful solo career and was a founding member of the ‘multimillionaire’ supergroup, The Travelling wilburys, with roy orbison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty in the late 80s.
Harrison’s early influences ranged from Django reinhardt to Chet atkins and Carl Perkins, and his sense of melody and creative spark was present in almost every guitar part or song that he composed throughout his illustrious career. in fact, towards the end of The Beatles’ life as a band, Paul McCartney confessed that Harrison’s songs had become at least as strong as those written by himself and Lennon.
Today we’re looking at the mid-to-late 80s part of Harrison’s solo career, with a sprinkling of the more psychedelic 70s thrown in for good measure. This was a time when albums like Cloud nine gave Harrison commercial success on both sides of the atlantic. The solo here also includes slide guitar, which permeated many of the songs during this time. of course, George was able to call on the very best players to join him on his records, including the likes of elton John and eric Clapton – not a bad session band to gather round you in the studio.
our example is in the key of B minor (B-C#-D-e-F#-G-a), and being a Harrison style song it also features non-diatonic chords (including augmented); plus a B Mixolydian (B-C#-D#-e-F#-G#-a) run in bar 20.
The parts aren’t difficult to play, but you’ll need to focus on what is happening at each stage and also on the slide passages and any unusual chords. The solo features slide for the first eight bars, and then some sparse minor Pentatonic phrases in the final eight. There is a definite Jeff Lynne (ELO leader and producer for Harrison, Petty and orbison) style sound this month, with different tones used for each part, and Lynne’s trademark lightly overdriven power chords similar to his work with eLo, Tom Petty and The wilburys from the late 80s and early 90s.
NEXT MONTH: John looks at the playing of Robby Krieger from The Doors
Harrison was able to call on the very best players to join him on his albums including elton John and eric clapton.
George with a mid 80s Fender Stratocaster
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