What would you expect from a guitarist from the most famous group in the world? A virtuoso? A master of technique and styles? Perhaps...
George Harrison was something else though. His guitar was never the leading man of The Beatles as it was with Keith Richards for The Rolling Stones, or Pete Townsend for The Who, or a decade later, Brian May for Queen. Maybe because Harrison was never the big deal like Lennon or McCartney. He wasn’t a virtuoso on 6-string, but his guitar was the only one that could fit into a quartet as complicated as it was awesome.
He authored pieces like Something, Here Comes the Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, songs that reflect his sensitivity to melody and harmonic composition. But he was also capable of coming up with his most e acid sound -very 60ish-, on others such as Sgt. Pepper’s… or the solo on Taxman (another of his signature songs).
He has played all makes and models of guitars ( and all mainly plugged into his Vox amps): Gibson, Fender, Epiphone...but his image, especially in the Beatle years was tied to the 12-string Rickenbacker, and the mythic Gretsches - a company founded in the U.S. in 1883 by a German immigrant Friedrich Gretsch whose guitars were made popular in the 50s by Chet Atkins -. Harrison also helped in other fortunate years of the brand, the early 60’s, when he appeared with a Gretsch Country Gentleman hanging from his shoulder on the famous Fab Four appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, before an estimated audience of 73 million spectators.
George Harrison was the essential guitar: not a note too many nor too few on his compositions. His fluid style, measured out to the last fret, reflects an enormous versatility and solid preparation: country, jazz, blues, rock n roll and of course, rockabilly ( it’s no secret that Carl Perkins was one of his greatest influences). Throughout his career, with The Beatles, alone, with the Travelling Wilburys or for the 1000+1 jams that put him on stages worldwide and always in good company. George Harrison has shown us all his tricks. We have only to learn from this master, the quiet Beatle, who gave the world of music much more than he’s given credit for.