Thursday, 25 February 2021


George Harrison’s five biggest influences:
Carl Perkins
George Harrison remained a lifelong fan of the music of American rockabilly musician Carl Perkins, who, especially, had a significant influence on Harrison’s playing in the early days of The Beatles, in particular on ‘All My Loving’ and ‘Eight Days a Week’. 
The Beatles also covered two of Perkins’ songs: ‘Honey Don’t’ and ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’ – the latter, which Harrison sang on.

Later on in the ’90s, after The Beatles broke up, George had the opportunity to contribute to two Perkins albums.
George contributed vocals on ‘Distance Makes No Difference With Love’ on Go Cat Go and also contributed some guitar work on Blue Suede Shoes – A Rockabilly Session, reissued in 2006.

George Formby

Formby was at the forefront of British entertainment throughout the 1930s and ’40s as an overall variety performer. This kind of influence proves Harrison’s kind of sophistication that implies more than just one kind of performance. Formby was a comic, a singer, and a banjo and ukulele player.

Harrison said of the performer: “Growing up, all those songs were always in the back of my life….they were either being played in the background, or my mother was singing them when I was three or four. I always wrote songs with those kind of chords anyway. The Beatles songs were a lot like that, just made into the sixties.”

Ravi Shankar
One of George’s most significant influences was his introduction to Indian classical music through Ravi Shankar. It wasn’t just music that Shankar’s influence found itself permeating through,but rather into George’s spiritual beliefs and later practices as a fully-fledged yogi. Harrison was largely responsible for getting the other members of The Beatles hooked on Eastern philosophy and spirituality and also for introducing the sitar to an early Beatles song.

George first used the sitar on Lennon’s ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, found on Rubber Soul. Other songs in which George used a sitar and other eastern instruments include ‘Within You Without You’ from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; various other Indian percussions, wind and stringed instruments were present on their seminal 1968 album, which changed the face of psychedelic pop music.
Django Reinhardt

This name speaks yet again to George’s diverse influences and tastes. Reinhardt was an early jazz giant, so to associate a figure such as that to a rocker seems slightly bizarre. While considered the first prominent jazz musician to emerge to prominence from Europe, his style of guitar playing may not be what one would expect when they hear the word ‘jazz’.

A more apt name for the style of Reinhardt’s playing would be ‘gipsy jazz’, which was a style of guitar playing that featured very rhythmic and percussive upstrokes on the guitar—accompanied by another guitar player who would typically play scales that were mostly dissident. It is no wonder that Harrison was greatly influenced, not only in the style of improvisation that occurs in gipsy jazz but also in the creative chord structures of its songwriting.

Elvis Presley 

One of the more obvious influences would have to be the king himself, who so happened to have influenced every subsequent musician after him. “Seeing Elvis was like seeing the messiah arrive.” 
What The Beatles did for music in the ’60s is what Elvis did prior in the ’50s. 
When Elvis hit the stage, the world was never the same again. He essentially invented the idea of the ‘rock star’, the hip-shaking performer who crooned either heartbreaking songs or rock ‘n’ roll number.
Inevitably, George was one of many of his peers to be greatly influenced.

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