Five Guitarists Inspired By The Beatles’ George Harrison


To call George Harrison an influential figure in popular music would be a bit underestimated. As the lead guitarist of the world’s most popular band, Harrison would take center stage during the solo break of each song, incorporating styles of country, blues and classic rock and roll.

As the band’s style focused less directly on the verse-chorus-middle structures of eight solos, Harrison established himself as a songwriter and continued to embellish songs with a wide range of six-string tones.

What made Harrison such a talented guitarist was his versatility. Initially picking up the string curves and country licks of musicians like Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore, Harrison’s ability to adapt to almost any style of music allowed him to add tasteful flamenco solos to ” And I Love Her ”, melodic emotional twists on“ Something ”, rough tracks on“ Helter Skelter ”, and wonderful sliding work on“ My Sweet Lord ”.

Harrison’s initial role as the accompanist to the Lennon / McCartney canon made him versatile out of necessity, but his own interest in Indian music, rockabilly, and lush orchestration meant he could be instantly recognizable.

Harrison’s influence is vast, both with and without The Beatles. Contributing to bands like Cream, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, while spearheading the Traveling Wilburys and maintaining a solo career, meant Harrison could keep his music in the public eye for a number of years.

During this time, Harrison’s play with the Beatles became more and more revered. Due to its immense dispersion within pop culture, it would be nearly impossible to find a guitarist or musician who was not influenced by Harrison.

Here are five of the most acclaimed guitarists and musicians of all time, talking about the influence that Harrison’s playing and arrangements have had on their respective styles.

Five guitarists influenced by George Harrison:

Johnny marr

As a key contributor to the indie and alternative rock scene of the 1980s, Johnny Marr made a name for himself with bright tones, technically challenging arpeggios, and intricate selection patterns. Marr wasn’t trying to be a flashy guitar hero, instead he was looking to serve the song rather than show off. According to Marr, he learned this style from Harrison.

“George Harrison has always been one of my favorite guitarists,” said the dynamic guitarist. “His approach to singing and creating little passages and moments on records is more of something I can relate to, and in the sense of how I see myself, of course. Out of respect for the big guys. guitarists who came out of the blues rock boom in the 60s, you have to put your hands up and show that respect.

Adding: “But unfortunately for them, the legacy they started shifted somewhat in the 1970s when I was growing up into other things that didn’t really relate to my age group. But George Harrison’s more musical and composed approach, rather than being particularly bluesy, was really my thing.

Dave Grohl

Although he has been acclaimed as a drummer and songwriter, Dave Grohl will be the first to admit that his technical prowess as a guitarist doesn’t have to be anything special. But in terms of using the guitar as a way to build songs and convey feelings, Grohl cited Harrison as a major influence. He even referred to Harrison and paid homage to his style on the Foo Fighters debut LP.

“Beyond being an amazing player, his ability to convey such emotion with just his guitar played a huge role in Beatles music for me,” Grohl said, recalling the icon.

“He was the secret weapon,” he continued. “One of the first guitar solos I learned was from the song ‘Something’, when I was about 11 years old. I paid tribute to him on our first record with the song ‘Oh, George’, a reference to the slide lead. He’s always been my favorite… and always will be.

John Frusciante

Joining the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the late 80s, John Frusciante brought an entirely different sensibility to funk-punk rockers. While former guitarist Hillel Slovak favored rhythm and groove, Frusciante added a new melodic sensibility that allowed the band to create songs with greater pop sensibility.

When looking for characters who excelled at playing exactly what was needed from a song’s basic structure, Frusciente pointed out that Harrison never placed his own playing above the song’s natural roots.

“One of the few guitarists whose solos I still listened to was George Harrison,” confirmed Frusciante. “His solos were always wonderful melodies and very intelligent. He always kept chord changes in mind and played them in a very smart and tasteful way. Before this album (Besides) I got a really good look at George Harrison because I wanted to understand why he plays the way he does and what he does and how he plays around those chords.

Joey santiago

Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago played a role relatively similar to Harrison’s in his band: creating riffs, melodic ideas, and solos that would elevate the scratch patterns and stripped-down songs of Black Francis. On tracks like “Here Comes Your Man” and “The Holiday Song,” Santiago uses much of the same rockabilly picking styles that Harrison himself used early in The Beatles’ career.

According to Santiago, it was all about intention with Harrison, and it wasn’t just limited to the early Beatles songs. Lessons could also be found on lesser-known tracks, with the guitarist citing “Savoy Truffle” as a guitar part that specifically pertained to the themes and imagery of a song’s lyrics.

“At [Savoy Truffle]everything was descriptive and had a purpose, ”Santiago said. “They were talking about a drill to pull your teeth out… I forgot the lyrics, but the idea is that too much candy means you have to pull your teeth out.” So I always associated that guitar sound with a drill and wanted that same piercing sound, which is probably why I like to play like that.

Tom Small

Tom Petty had the rare honor to befriend George Harrison and watch his guitar play up close and personal. As a member of the Traveling Wilburys, Petty relied on Harrison by choosing bass from that group instead while his fellow band members stuck mostly to rhythm and acoustic guitar.

According to Petty, Harrison always focused on the pitch, no matter what type of song he tried. This became crystal clear when Harrison increased his use of the slide guitar in Beatles albums at the end of the period.

“When he switched to slide guitar later in the Beatles career, it was such a beautiful thing to hear him play that,” said the late Petty. “He once said to me, ‘I think modern guitarists forget the pitch,’ and that was something he really cared about. He was very tight when he played, the slide was very precise, and just a nice vibrato on it. It really sounded like a voice, like a very distinct and characteristic voice coming out of him. Just listen to these records. They are so impeccable, so inventive. He was a guy who could add so much.


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