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Take a Dip in "Sour Milk Sea," a 1968 Track Featuring Three Beatles and Eric Clapton

Jackie Lomax at London's Speakeasy club March 4, 1969.

Jackie Lomax at London's Speakeasy club March 4, 1969. (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

The most famous thing Jackie Lomax, a former member of a Liverpool band called the Undertakers, was ever involved in is the recording of "Sour Milk Sea." The song, which was released in 1968, is legendary because it is very nearly a Beatles recording. Like a lot of Beatles songs, "Sour Milk Sea" was recorded—in the Sixties—at Abbey Road Studios (EMI) in London. Also like a lot of Beatles songs, it was written by George Harrison and features Harrison on lead guitar, Paul McCartney on bass and Ringo Starr on drums.

John Lennon didn't take part in the session. However, we get to hear the brilliance of Cream guitarist Eric Clapton (who played on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps") and ace session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins (who played on the Beatles' "Revolution") on piano. See what I mean by "very nearly a Beatles recording"?

That's Lomax on vocals, by the way.

"I wrote 'Sour Milk Sea' in Rishikesh, India," Harrison said. "I never actually recorded the song. It was done by Jackie Lomax ... It's based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art. 'What is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere.' It's a picture, and the picture is called Sour Milk Sea—Kalladadi Samudra in Sanskrit. I used 'Sour Milk Sea' as the idea of—if you're in the shit, don't go around moaning about it: Do something about it."

"Sour Milk Sea" was released as a Lomax single in August 1968 on Apple Records. It also appears on his 1969 album, Is This What You Want?.

"With Eric Clapton playing on it, it was on fire," Lomax said. "When the backing tape was played back, I thought it worked as an instrumental. 'You want me to sing on top of that?!' There I am in the studio and there are three Beatles in the control room watching me...I guess I was nervous at first, but after a couple of takes I was into it."

Clapton's guitar solo starts at 1:50; Harrison's solo starts at 2:08. Lomax died in September 2013 at age 69.

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Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.