by Andre Gardner
All of The Beatles have made guest appearances on recordings by other artists, but none more than George Harrison, who was born today in 1943. Of course he’s done guitar work on solo songs by two of his Beatles brothers, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, (his work on John’s “Oh My Love” is simply gorgeous and his guitar on Ringo’s song “Back Off Boogaloo” is bitingly flawless), but George pitched in on other artist’s songs right up until his passing. In many cases, though, you won’t see his name on the album’s liner notes. Several of his acknowledgements have been under pseudonyms – a combination of avoiding legal issues and George’s Monty Python-ish sense of humor.
Here are a sample of George’s contributions on songs by others, and the nickname he used, where applicable:
Badge by Cream.
George co-wrote and played rhythm guitar, opposite Eric Clapton’s lead work on the classic track from Cream’s 1969 farewell album, “Goodbye.” Since his name couldn’t appear on the album, George was listed as “L’Angelo Mysterioso.” You can hear his rhythm “chunks” on the intro, in particular.
Banana Anna by Nicky Hopkins.
Hopkins, the most in-demand session keyboardist in the 60s and 70s, put out a solo album in 1973. It was largely recorded at The Beatles’ Apple Studios, and George (credited as “George O’Hara”) plays guitar on five of the tracks. “Banana Anna” was one. Hopkins would work with George on another song that year, which follows this clip.
Basketball Jones – Cheech And Chong.
When Cheech and Chong were at A&M Studios in L.A. working on their “Los Cochinos” album in 1973, they found out George was next door doing some work in another studio. Their producer, Lou Adler, stopped over to ask George if he’d like to play some guitar on the Cheech & Chong track and, since George and Chong were friends, and Nicky Hopkins was there playing keyboards, he happily obliged. George is playing lead guitar on this song and contributed one of the many backing vocals at the end.
You’re Breaking My Heart – Harry Nilsson.
First off, the lyrics are a definite NSFW or near kids!! It’s amazing that Harry wanted to actually release this as a single, but there was no way RCA would do that. He had to talk the label into putting the song on his album “Son Of Schmilsson” at all! George plays slide guitar on the tune, and once again Nicky Hopkins is on the keyboards. Peter Frampton is on the song, too, playing guitar.
Tell The Truth – Derek And The Dominos/Bobby Whitlock
Clapton’s Derek & The Dominos played on several tracks on George’s “All Things Must Pass” album, and George returned the favor by hooking the band up with the album’s producer Phil Spector to produce their first single at Apple Studios. George played guitar on both sides of the single, “Tell The Truth” and “Roll It Over.” Almost immediately after it was released as a single, the band withdrew the release, claiming they had recorded the song at too fast a tempo. They re-recorded the song for inclusion on their debut album, “Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs” without George. In 1971, Derek & The Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock recorded a version of “Tell The Truth,” more in the feel of the original 1970 recording, for his solo album, “Raw Velvet,” and George played guitar on that version as well!
Far East Man – Ronnie Wood.
Both George and Ronnie, who wrote the song together, released versions of the track on their respective solo albums in 1974. George guested on Ronnie’s version, playing guitar.
Leave A Light On – Belinda Carlisle.
When the former Go-Go’s lead singer was working on her third solo album, “Runaway Horses” in 1988, her producer suggested she find someone “cool” to play the lead guitar part. Carlisle had met George previously and suggested him and, after a few phone calls to the right people, he agreed to come and play slide guitar. George said in an interview that it was the best slide guitar part he’d ever played on a song. See if you agree!
Walk A Thin Line – Mick Fleetwood.
Written by Lindsey Buckingham, and originally appearing on Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” album, “Walk A Thin Line” was re-recorded by Mick Fleetwood for his African music-influenced debut solo album, “The Visitor.” After recording the basic track in Ghana, Fleetwood returned to London for overdubs, and it was there that he ran into George Harrison. George was all too happy to add some slide guitar to the song.
The Bluest Blues – Alvin Lee.
George and the Ten Years After guitarist were neighbors in Henley-On-Thames and would frequently get together and play. In 1994, Lee put out a solo album called “I Hear You Rockin’,” and George plays one of the bluesiest slide guitar solos ever on this tasty track.