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George Harrison's 10 Greatest Guitar Moments After the Beatles

George Harrison's 10 Greatest Guitar Moments After the Beatles

Musicologists and verbose rock fans have dedicated thousands of words to the merits and behind-the-music details of "important" albums such as the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St.

But how many books have you read about Mick Jagger's solo debut, She's the Boss? How about Bill Wyman's 1974 solo outing, Monkey Grip? Should we even bother asking about the Charlie Watts Quintet's Long Ago and Far Away?

Let's face it, regardless of how great (or, in these three cases, decent-ish) they might be, solo albums by members of legendary rock bands—from the Stones to the Beatles to Led Zeppelin—rarely (if ever) attain the same legendary status as the music released by the bands themselves.

For instance, let's take this George Harrison fellow.

Guitar-centric magazines and websites (like this one) have slathered decades worth o' praise on Harrison's 1962-to-1970 guitar work with the Beatles. We've broken down his solos from "Something," "I'm Only Sleeping," "Let It Be" and "Old Brown Shoe." We've applauded his introduction of sitars and 12-string electric guitars into pop music. We've even dedicated Guitar World lessons to his late-Beatles-era acoustic work.

But what about his guitar playing after the Beatles?

Harrison started playing slide in 1969 while on tour with Delaney & Bonnie, suddenly inventing an entirely new "guitar persona" for himself. What he came up with was a distinctive, often-copied, non-blues-based slide style that incorporated hints of Indian music and a few offbeat things he picked up while learning sitar—all of which he meshed with other Beatles-esque odds and ends.

He debuted his new slide sound on his first solo album, 1970's All Things Must Pass (check out "My Sweet Lord"), and refined it over the years on his own albums and as a highly sought-after session player, if you can call a former Beatle a session player.

Below, we revisit 10 of the finest examples of Harrison's post-Beatles guitar work. Enjoy!


GIMME SOME TRUTH
John Lennon | Imagine | 1971

In mid-1971, more than a year after the Beatles officially split, John Lennon started recording what would become his second proper solo album, Imagine. The album, which was released later that year, was a critical and commercial success. 

It also marks one of the only times Lennon recorded with Harrison, his former Beatles bandmate, after the dissolution of the Fab Four (As every little schoolboy knows, they both took part in the sessions for Ringo Starr's "I'm the Greatest" in March 1973). Harrison's fretwork can be heard on several Imagine tracks, including "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier" and "Oh My Love." He even plays a mean dobro on "Crippled Inside."

However, from a six-string perspective, there's just something special, and a bit chilling, about Harrison's slide work on "How Do You Sleep?" and "Gimme Some Truth," the latter of which we've included below. Harrison wasn't a speed demon; his talent lay in his note choices, phrasing and emotional delivery (a trait he shared with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and, to a lesser extent, B.B. King); in this song, he uses the slide to achieve a chilling, sustained, singing tone. Harrison's solo starts at :49.

 


GIVE ME LOVE (GIVE ME PEACE ON EARTH)
George Harrison | Living in the Material World | 1973

Everything came together for Harrison on this track, the lead-off single from his highly anticipated 1973 followup to All Things Must Pass.

First there’s the quality of the song’s message and melody, both of which stay in your skull long after the final notes have faded. But more importantly (as far as we’re concerned), there’s Harrison’s slide playing, which shows plenty of maturation since All Things Must Pass.

Harrison’s mid-song solo (1:51), which features twin slide parts, is simply one of the most intricate and melodic things the former Beatle ever played on slide. The brief solo at the end of the song starts at 3:14.

“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” spent several weeks at the top of the U.S. charts in 1973. In fact, 1973 was massive for all four solo Beatles.

 

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