A Surprise Star Among Stars

An “aha” moment came to me while watching the recently debuted HBO special on George Harrison. Ringo and others in the show were commenting on Harrison’s mournful slide playing, how it was so full of expression. So that WAS George Harrison playing all those great lines on “Give Me Love,” “My Sweet Lord,” “All You Need is Love” and other classics.

Who talks about George Harrison’s slide playing? No one. Who gives him credit for creating a unique voice in the world’s ultimate rock band using an instrument known almost exclusively for blues. No one. Well here goes: George Harrison was a true stylist on the slide guitar.

Historical accounts and even his bandmates (notably John Lennon) downplayed Harrison’s talent on the guitar and as a singer songwriter. But as a stylist, Harrison really made a mark. All those years hearing his slide playing on the car radio made an imprint in my mind. Oh, it was a sweet sound and it perfectly fit the mood and feel of the song, but….it must have been Clapton playing all that stuff. That’s what I (and many others I’m sure) always thought.

What a remarkable job HBO and Director Martin Scorsese did revealing the true Harrison as a talented stylist wedged between the genius of Lennon and McCartney. Harrison may not have been a genius, but he developed and showcased something all players dream of doing: a personal style that branded his sound forever.

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