With George Harrison’s songwriting blossoming during the ‘Abbey Road’ sessions, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ emerged as a standout song from the album.
While George Harrison had been contributing songs to Beatles albums since 1963, he had long been in the shadow of Lennon and McCartney. By 1969, however, his compositions had reached such a standard that his two songs on Abbey Road (“Something’” and “Here Comes The Sun”) were among the standout songs on that album. As George said in 1969, “I wasn’t Lennon, or I wasn’t McCartney. I was me. And the only reason I started to write songs was because I thought, ‘Well, if they can write them, I can write them.’” But, given John and Paul’s prolific output, it wasn’t easy for George to find space for his songs on Beatles records.
A backlog of songs
As the finishing touches were being made to “The White Album” in October 1968, George was on his way to Los Angeles to continue work producing Jackie Lomax’s album Is This What You Want? These sessions would see George heading up a crew that featured the cream of America’s session musicians, and he appears to have relished the chance to take the lead in front of such a fine crop of talent. After the sessions were complete, George headed to Woodstock, in upstate New York, where he spent Thanksgiving with Bob Dylan and hung out with The Band, before returning to England in time to take up his duties as a Beatle once more.
By the time The Beatles regrouped at Twickenham film studios on January 2, 1969, George had a backlog of songs, including “All Things Must Pass” and “Isn’t It A Pity,” the latter dating back as far as the Revolver sessions in 1966. On that first morning at Twickenham, John and George played each other their latest songs. But while George enthusiastically pitched in to help on John’s “Don’t Let Me Down,” when George tried to engage John on his song “Let It Down,” John struggled with its chord structure, choosing instead to play some old Chuck Berry tunes. This was a theme that would recur throughout the “Get Back” sessions.
George’s inability to get the group engaged on his new compositions would prove a source of frustration for the youngest Beatle. At one stage, George told John that he was thinking of making a solo record, by way of using up the songs he had accumulated – a venture John actively encouraged.
By the following Friday, January 10, George had had enough and declared that he was leaving the band. After such a positive experience in the US, George found the Twickenham sessions a step too far. As he recalled in Anthology, “I had spent the last few months of 1968 producing an album by Jackie Lomax and hanging out with Bob Dylan and The Band in Woodstock, having a great time.
For me, to come back into the winter of discontent with The Beatles in Twickenham was very unhealthy and unhappy. But I can remember feeling quite optimistic about it. I thought, OK, it’s the New Year and we have a new approach to recording. I think the first couple of days were OK, but it was soon quite apparent that it was just the same as it had been when we were last in the studio, and it was going to be painful again.”
Though George returned to the fold when sessions moved to Apple Studios on January 21, he no longer pushed for any of his songs to be included in the eventual live show the group would perform on the roof of their building (the legendary “rooftop concert”).
The origin of ‘Here Comes The Sun’
In April, George absented himself from an Apple meeting, choosing instead to head 20 miles south to his friend Eric Clapton’s house in Ewhurst, Surrey. And it was while relaxing with Eric in the garden that the seeds of “Here Comes The Sun” were planted. As George recalled in his autobiography, I Me Mine: “‘Here Comes The Sun’ was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: ‘sign this’ and ‘sign that.’ Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it.
So, one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric’s acoustic guitars and wrote ‘Here Comes The Sun.’” George completed the song while holidaying in Sardinia, returning just two weeks before work began on the song at EMI’s studios on Abbey Road on July 7 – Ringo’s 29th birthday.
“Here Comes The Sun” was the last song that George would present to the group, though John was absent for its recording, having been hospitalized by a car crash in Scotland. The song bore a number of influences. George explained: “It was a bit like ‘If I Needed Someone,’ you know, the basic riff going through it, you know all those ‘Bells Of Rhymney’ Byrds type things. So, that’s how I see it, anyway. It’s quite vintage.”
John saw a much older influence, commenting in 1969: “It reminds me of Buddy Holly, in a way. This song is just the way he’s progressing, you know. He’s writing all kinds of songs and once the door opens, the floodgates open.” George’s love of Indian music was another influence – particularly with the complex timing of the instrumental passage at the end of each chorus. “He said, ‘Oh, I’ve got this song. It’s like seven-and-a-half time.’” Ringo recalled in Martin Scorsese’s Living In The Material World. “‘Yeah, so?’ You know, he might as well have talked to me in Arabic, you know what I mean? I had to find some way that I could physically do it and do it every time, so it came off on time. That’s one of those Indian tricks.”
With George on acoustic guitar – a capo on the seventh fret – Paul on bass, and Ringo on drums, the 13th take (or take 12 and a half, as it was superstitiously declared) on that July 7 session was the keeper, onto which a number of overdubs would be added over the next six weeks or so: extra drum fills from Ringo and more guitar parts from George, plus an intricate handclaps rhythm were added over the next few days, along with George’s lead vocal and backing vocals from George and Paul. A harmonium was added, before being recorded over by a nine-piece string section, while the work of eight woodwind players was largely erased by an unwieldy new instrument that George had brought into the studio.
Robert Moog’s synthesizer had been increasing in popularity among those in the know in the pop world since its demonstration at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, and George had ordered one after coming across the instrument while recording Jackie Lomax in LA back in late 1968. “I had to have mine made specially because Mr. Moog had only just invented it. It was enormous, with hundreds of jack plugs and two keyboards,” he recalled. “But it was one thing having one, and another trying to make it work. There wasn’t an instruction manual, and even if there had been it would probably have been a couple of thousand pages long. I don’t think even Mr. Moog knew how to get music out of it; it was more of a technical thing. When you listen to the sounds on songs like ‘Here Comes The Sun,’ it does do some good things, but they’re all very kind of infant sounds.”
All that was left now was to mix the song, and the final touch was added at this stage, with the tape being played slightly fast to increase the pitch of the song by roughly a quarter of a tone – as anybody who has ever tried to play along with the record will have discovered.
CREDITS: Paul McGuinness / Udiscovermusic.com
Axl Rose unleashed his sensitive side on this massive hit that was years in the making. How to follow the biggest-selling debut album in US history? This was the question posed to Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses following the enormous success of their 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction.
Their response was a typically lavish gesture – the 1991 release of two double albums on the same day, September 17, 1991 – Use Your Illusion, Volumes I and II. Rose had every reason to be confident: the band had been through a purple patch creatively and he knew he had an ace up his sleeve in the nine-minute power ballad “November Rain,” a song he’d been holding back since the early 80s.
“November Rain” showed the world a different side of Rose. Here he left his raunchy rock persona to reveal a hitherto unexpected sensitivity. Musically, the song was an opulent take on the piano balladry of mid-70s Elton John, supercharged by a passionate vocal from Rose, a massive-sounding string arrangement, and a soaring Slash guitar solo.
Rose’s love of Elton John may have surprised many, but it’s been speculated that “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” the Elton epic that kicked off 1973’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was a major influence on “November Rain.” John’s impact on Rose was confirmed when the GN’R singer inducted the British singer-songwriter into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994, claiming, “For myself as well as others, no one has been there more for inspiration than Elton John… When I first heard ‘Bennie And The Jets,’ I knew I had to be a performer.”
Rose knew that “November Rain” was special and was determined to wait till the right moment to do it justice. He’d made it clear to Rolling Stone back in 1988 how much the song meant to him, suggesting, “If it’s not recorded right, I’ll quit the business.” Interviewed by Music Enthusiast, former Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Tracii Guns confirmed that Rose had been working on the song for many years, “When we were doing that EP for L.A. Guns, in like ’83?
He was playing ‘November Rain’ – and it was called ‘November Rain’ – you know, on piano.
Way back then, it was the only thing he knew how to play, but it was his. He’d go, ‘Someday this song is gonna be really cool.’ And I’d go, ‘It’s cool now.’ ‘But it’s not done’, you know, he used to say. And, like, anytime we’d be at a hotel or anywhere, there’d be a piano; he’d just kinda play that music. And I’d go, ‘When are you gonna finish that already?’ And he’d go, ‘I don’t know what to do with it.’”
There had been attempts to record the song during the demo sessions for Appetite for Destruction, including a 10-minute piano demo that shows how fully formed Rose’s vision for the song already was. Rose had also played the song for a potential producer, Manny Charlton, before telling him, “That one’s for the second album.” Legend has it that one version Rose worked on was 18 minutes long. Eventually, he pared the song down and added a painstakingly written arrangement, after which it was deemed ready for Use Your Illusion I.
Following a self-titled EP and the fan-favorite mini-album G N’ R Lies, both released in 1988 – the band really got down to work on a follow-up to Appetite for Destruction in the summer of 1989. Writing sessions in Chicago proved particularly productive, “Izzy has brought in eight songs – at least,” Rose said in 1990. “Slash has brought in a whole album. I’ve brought in an album. Duff [McKagan] knows everybody’s material backward. So, we’ve got, like, 35 songs we like, and we want to put them all out, and we’re determined to do that.”
Speaking to Kerrang! in 1990, Rose underlined his perfectionism, “I was writing these ballads that I feel have really rich tapestries and stuff, and making sure each note, in effect, is right. Cos whether I’m using a lot of instrumentation and stuff or not, I’ll still write with minimalism. But it has to be right; it has to be the right note and it has to be held the right way, and it has to have the right effect, do you know what I mean?”
The Use Your Illusion albums were immediate hits, selling more than 14 million copies combined and claiming the top two spots on the Billboard 200 album chart. It represented a genuine creative progression for the band, the 30 tracks across the two albums represented a newfound maturity and a much broader range of music. “November Rain” not only provided the Guns N’ Roses’ albums with a centerpiece, but it also became a massive hit when released as a single, reaching No 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No 4 in the UK.
The success of the single was fueled by its unforgettable video, one of the most expensive ever made and MTV’s most requested video of all time. In 2018, it reached another landmark: More than one billion streams on YouTube. The care that Axl Rose had taken over “November Rain” had paid off. He had created a rock ballad for the ages.
Credits: Jamie Atkins – Udiscovermusic.com
During an appearance on today’s (Wednesday, July 6) episode of SiriusXM’s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”, AEROSMITH guitarist Joe Perry was once again asked about the possibility of a follow-up to the band’s “Music From Another Dimension!” album, which came out a decade ago. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “For a long while after that record came out, I thought…Because we put everything on that every riff that we had lying around. Then I was thinking, ‘Why bother?’ We’ve got all this other material that we need to release that the fans, I think, would love to hear different versions of ‘Dream On’, studio quality.
But you never know. I mean, Steven [Tyler, vocals], our villas are, like side by side, in Vegas [during AEROSMITH’s Vegas residency]. So, you never know. If you’ve got some inspiration, it doesn’t take long to write a song. Whether it’s great or not, you don’t know. But all I can say is you never know. I would hate to think that was the last one. But we’ve got so much stuff out there, it’s hard to think about trying to do something new. But what the hell? You never know.
“Music From Another Dimension!” was released when AEROSMITH’s label, Columbia Records, was reportedly going through a leadership change, and it ended up becoming a commercial disappointment. The lackluster response to the disc later caused two bandmembers Perry and drummer Joey Kramer to publicly question whether there’s any point in AEROSMITH making future albums. A little over a month ago, AEROSMITH announced that Tyler had entered a treatment program following a recent relapse, prompting the band to put their Las Vegas residency on a temporary hold.
Sources close to Steven told TMZ last week that he checked out of a facility at the end of June, and actually stayed longer than the 30 days he was originally supposed to. The tabloid site reported that the singer is “totally clean and sober and looks good physically too — he’s at a healthy weight and his skin looks great.” When AEROSMITH announced Tyler’s return to rehab in late May, the band said in a statement that the 74-year-old underwent foot surgery in preparation for the group’s return to the stage, and in managing his pain, suffered a relapse.
AEROSMITH said at the time it was canceling the June and July dates of the “Deuces Are Wild” residency, which was slated to begin at Dolby Live at Park MGM on June 17. Kramer’s wife Linda Gail Kramer died on June 22 at the age of 55. No cause of death has been revealed.
This past March, Joey announced that he would sit out AEROSMITH’s concerts in 2022 so he can “focus his full attention on his family during these uncertain times,” according to a statement from the legendary rockers. While Kramer “takes a temporary leave of absence” from AEROSMITH, he will once again be replaced by his drum tech, John Douglas. “[Kramer] and the band look forward to his future performances with AEROSMITH,” the statement added. – Credits: Blabbermouth.net
When discussing psychedelic rock bands, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd are the three most eminent names that crop up. Whilst Floyd started out as a psychedelic band in the Syd Barrett era before heading down a more progressive route, Cream and Jimi Hendrix’s position as pioneers of the form cannot be doubted.
It might come as a surprise to fans of all three outfits to hear that they are actually very closely connected, in that Cream and Hendrix had a defining impact on the Pink Floyd members, inspiring them to form the band, and by proxy, change the musical landscape in the process.
The information came by way of former bassist and frontman of Cream, the eminent Jack Bruce. The forerunner of the likes of Geddy Lee, Flea, and Geezer Butler, Bruce was one of rock’s first bass heroes. After Cream imploded in 1968, he enjoyed a prolific career, exploring the avant-garde as well as hard rock, playing with a host of heroes including Rory Gallagher and Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.
The amount of icons that have cited him as an inspiration is dizzying. Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler considers him as his “biggest influence and favorite bass player”.
Rush’s resident bass virtuoso, Geddy Lee, praised Bruce on the band’s website in 2015, saying: “(He was) one of the greatest rock bassists to ever live and a true and profound inspiration to countless musicians. He was one of my first bass heroes and was a major influence on my playing and my music.”
Demonstrating the great impact he had on Pink Floyd, after Bruce passed away in 2014, the former conceptual mastermind and bassist of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, lamented that he was “probably the most musically gifted bass player who’s ever been”.
Sitting down with Classic Rock in 2008, Bruce remembered his first encounters with a host of ’60s legends such as Cream bandmates Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton as well as the likes of George Harrison and Graham Bond. Undoubtedly though, the most fascinating was his anecdote of about first meeting Jimi Hendrix, and how it led to the formation of Pink Floyd.
Baker recalled: “I first met Hendrix when we [Cream] did a gig at the Regents Polytechnic. Coincidentally, the guys that became Pink Floyd were in the audience, and apparently seeing that event made them become Pink Floyd. When I saw them recently, they told me that. I knew they were there, but I didn’t know that we were responsible for them getting together.”
Digressing slightly, he pondered the consequences of Pink Floyd forming: “Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing I leave that for you to decide. I always thought that Pink Floyd were a band for people who don’t like music or rock’n’roll. So anyway, back to Hendrix.”
Nevertheless, he continued: “We were playing Regents Polytechnic. I was just having a pre-gig pint in a pub across the road and in comes this guy who turns out to be Jimi Hendrix. Now, we had already heard about Jimi on the grapevine. Jimi came up to me and said: ‘Hi. I would like to sit in with the band.’ I said it was fine with me, but he’d obviously have to check it out with Eric and Ginger.”
Concluding this remarkable story, Bruce said: “So we went across to the gig, and Eric immediately said yes, and Ginger said: ‘Oh, dunno about that’ [laughs]. So, he came on and plugged into my bass amp, and as far as I can remember he just blew us all away. Hendrix had a positive effect on everybody, especially guitar players. He came to the sessions when we [Cream] did White Room in New York and was very encouraging about the song. He came up to me and said: ‘Wow, I wish I could write something like that.’ I said: ‘Jimi, what you’ve got to realize is that I probably nicked it off you.’”
Credits: Mick McStarkey/faroutmagazine.com
Watch Steve Vai and Nile Rodgers help create the iconic ‘Halo 2’ theme
After being told to “just vibe”, Steve Vai improvised a solo that would feature on the main theme for ‘Halo 2’. A studio recording of guitarists Steve Vai and Nile Rodgers creating the now-iconic theme for Halo 2 has been shared by the series’ original composer, Marty O’Donnell.
Today (April 19), O’Donnell announced that a dispute regarding royalties for his work creating the Halo soundtrack has been “amicably resolved”. Along with the announcement, O’Donnell shared footage of Vai and Rodgers working together on their contribution to the main theme for Halo 2, which includes instrumentals from the pair.
Within the video’s 27-minute run-time, there are plenty of moments that detail how the pair came up with Halo 2‘s guitar-led theme – including Rodgers explaining that he wants to create something “really true” to the game’s original soundtrack. At 0:53, fans can spot Rodgers listening to the string-led portion of Halo 2‘s theme, before picking up his guitar and improvising a chord progression to play with the piece.
After Rodgers’ rhythm section drew praise from Vai, Rodgers joked that “I was doing something like this with [Eric Clapton], he sat there and went “okay, now what am I gonna play?” he said, “you’re covering all the harmony and all the rhythm, what am I supposed to do?” Around the 8:30 mark, a conversation between Vai and Rodgers shares a glimpse into the pair’s approach to collaborating on the Bungie project.
Rodgers tells Vai he wants it “to sound like you’re there with the orchestra” but doesn’t want to change the theme too much as “the original thing is so well-known”. When Vai tells Rodgers to “produce me, baby”, Rodgers instructs him to “just vibe, just groove on it for a minute” to see what he can come up with.
Remarkably, Vai’s improvisation – which begins at 9 minutes in the video – creates the solo that went on to be largely used in Halo 2‘s main theme, much to the approval of Rodgers. The footage was filmed while recording at Seattle’s Studio X, which has been used by artists ranging from Nirvana to Macklemore and Soundgarden.
– Credits: NME – Andy Brow
Eric Clapton and George Harrison were life-long friends. They shared the same love for music, and although they also shared the same love for a woman, nothing came between them. So, when George died of cancer in 2001, Clapton was beside himself. He had to do something to honor his friend, even if that meant doing something George would never have wanted.
Eric Clapton organized Concert for George in 2002.
After George died, Clapton wanted to do something to pay tribute to his life-long friend. So, he came up with Concert for George, a star-studded tribute concert. “It was [Clapton’s] idea,” George’s widow, Olivia, told Rolling Stone.
“He phoned me not long after George died and said, ‘I’d like to do something.’ Eric was a very deep friend of George’s, so I felt confident and relieved that it was Eric coming to me.”
“Olivia had given me this job of being musical director,” Clapton added, “to single out people for certain songs, and I found that really hard.
We were all quite protective of our relationships with George.” Fans and a vast group of George’s closest friends gathered on Nov. 29, 2002, exactly a year after George died, at London’s Royal Albert Hall for Concert for George. They filmed it and released it in theaters and on DVD a year later.
Among the performers were Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, and Paul McCartney. George’s only son, Dhani, played acoustic guitar through most of the performance.
Shankar told the crowd that he believed George’s spirit was with them. However, George would have been uncomfortable with the tribute concert.
Eric Clapton said George Harrison wouldn’t have liked Concert for George
Clapton thought of what his friend would have said about the tribute concert during rehearsals. He realized George wouldn’t have wanted Concert for George. However, Clapton said he didn’t care what George would have thought.
He needed to grieve. “I thought that if he were here, he’d probably say, ‘Thanks very much Eric, but I don’t really want this,’” Clapton told the LA Times.
“I thought, ‘What would I say if he said that?’ “And I then thought, ‘Well I’m doing this for me, actually.’ And that’s more the truth of it; I needed to do it for him, but it was for me most of all because I needed to be able to express my grief in that kind of way.”
The guitarist found it hard to communicate his feelings to the ex-Beatle
After everything George and Clapton went through together, Clapton was never entirely able to show his friend his feelings.
“A lot of times during our relationship, I found it very difficult to communicate my feelings toward George my love for him as a musician and a brother and a friend because we skated around stuff. I was probably dealing with that, too, making amends.”
It was a little late, but Concert for George allowed Clapton to tell George how he felt about him finally. Clapton needed to show George, he loved him by celebrating George’s life.
Hopefully, Concert for George allowed Clapton to mourn George properly and to say all the things he never got to say to him.
Credits: Hannah Wigandt – Showbiz CheatSheet
Tyson Fury, who will take on fellow Brit Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium on 23rd April live on BT Sport Box Office, famously performed American Pie after defeating Deontay Wilder in Fury v Wilder II in 2020. The song has since become synonymous with the boxer who is not afraid to showcase his musical talent.
The latest iteration of the song sees McLean singing the verses to “American Pie”, perfectly articulating Tyson’s comeback story, before he’s joined in the chorus by the Gypsy King himself. The Morecambe-based fighter is no stranger to jumping on the mic, having previously appeared on Robbie Williams’ song “Bad Sharon” in 2019.
Ahead of Fury v Whyte the song will be aired on BT Sport to promote the fight and will be played in the stadium on fight night as 94,000 fans pack into Wembley stadium to witness the first all-British heavyweight world title fight for a generation.
In addition to celebrating Fury’s homecoming, the duet coincides with the 50th anniversary of American Pie – both the album and single – as well as the release of a children’s book, documentary about the pop culture impact of the song, and a world tour which will come to the UK and Europe starting in September 2022.
Fans will be able to watch all the build-up, undercard and the main event of Fury v Whyte exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office.
Don McLean is a Grammy award honoree, a Songwriter Hall of Fame member, a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and his smash hit “American Pie” resides in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry and was named a top 5 song of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA).
Credits: Tim Peacock – Udiscovermusic.com