British music mag Uncut features George Harrison on the cover of its latest issue and includes an 11-page feature package on the former Beatle.
You can find Uncut in U.S. bookstores or order here.
In all-new interviews with his closest collaborators, digs deep into Harrison’s working practices to cast new light on “the Quiet One” – from pioneering solo debut, , to the posthumous release, .
In this extract, collaborators recall the making of 1968’s – Harrison’s soundtrack to film about a mad professor and a Biba girl called Penny Lane, released three weeks before the . With cameos from and , it’s the first Fab solo record, the first album on Apple and a world music crossover before its time.
was primarily an extension of his love of Indian music. George became a pupil of and he impressed me as being a very respectful and disciplined student. He seemed at ease with the sitar. There were already obvious influences on Beatles songs like “Within You Without You” and “Blue Jay Way”.
George was an early adopter! He had done those wonderful Indian tracks on and , and was learning with . He gave me the sitar he’d first learned on. I used it on “Paper Sun”, first single.
offered him complete freedom in creating a music score for the film, and he took advantage. But it was obvious that George was still intensely involved in his creative work with The Beatles. When we were doing were using the same studio; they had it block-booked. There were times when George’s sessions finished and the other three Beatles would come in for an evening session. When this happened, George would become re-energised and go into a world apart with the other three that nobody else seemingly could enter. At one session I found a flugelhorn lying around the studio. It turned out to be .
We recorded backing tracks at Abbey Road to accompany certain points in the film. George had timed it all with a stopwatch: “We need one minute and 35 seconds with a country & western feel.” Or, “We need a rock thing for exactly two minutes.” Nothing was really written. We’d talk over ideas he wanted, play something, and he’d say, “That’s good, keep that. I like the piano there.” It was very experimental. There were different tracks with different atmospheres, and a few different sessions. The Indian musicians were recorded in Bombay. At another session he used , who did a great riff on “Skiing”. I heard he borrowed a five-string banjo from for to use!
who was recording with at Abbey Road, happened to drop in and played bass on “On The Bed”. [It was] a free atmosphere, the sessions were very creative and very enjoyable. I was very impressed how well George had mastered [Indian classical] techniques. He had dropped in on one of recording sessions for the BBC/Jonathan Miller production of at the Shepherd’s Bush BBC Centre, which I worked on. At the session we were recording a scene where Ravi soloed and I played an Indian jhala texture on piano. George was fascinated by the combination of sitar and piano, and subsequently at his house in Esher he asked me to play one of my own compositions based on jhala texture. He looked and listened very closely. Later at one of the sessions he very abruptly sat down at the piano and with great intensity started playing his own jhala over a chord sequence. We had many discussions about Indian philosophy and spirituality. I’m convinced that George was one of the very few people I’ve ever met who was on a spiritual journey.