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The 5 guitarists George Harrison listed as favorites

George Harrison


The 5 guitarists George Harrison listed as favorites

One of the most influential guitarists of all time, George Harrison was a fundamental part of The Beatles sound and proved that he was an incredible songwriter and singer too even more during his solo career. He influenced countless generations of musicians and helped to change the course of music forever as part of what the Fab Four created in only 10 years they were together.


Harrison was a really sincere person and had no problem in mentioning players or bands he didn’t like. So when he praised an artist, he really was telling the truth. Throughout the decades he praised many artists but in an interview back in the 80s he was asked who was his favorite guitarist. However, he mentioned five players who were some of his favorite ones and Rock and Roll Garage selected what the musician said over the years about them.

The 5 guitarists George Harrison listed as favorites

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen is probably the most unexpected name mentioned by George Harrison as one of his favorites. Especially because Harrison said many times that he wasn’t particularly a huge fan of Hard Rock or Heavy Metal music. But he said: “Well, there are a lot of guitar players I like. These days I think, out of the contemporary players, I think Eddie Van Halen is pretty hot.”

At the time Van Halen already was one of the biggest bands in the world and had sold millions of records. A fast and talented player, Eddie caused a huge impact in the way the guitar was played. It was especially due to his tapping technique, which really started a whole new movement in the 80s.

They played together

George and Eddie had the opportunity not only to meet each other but to play together. That happened at the special Jeff Porcaro tribute show, held in Los Angeles in 1992. Many incredible musicians were there to pay tribute to the drummer. He had passed away months before at the age of 37.

Eddie Van Halen performed with the band a Jimi Hendrix cover of “Fire”, his own song “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and Toto’s “Hold The Line”. The guitarist was also on stage for the final song, which was The Beatles‘ “With a Little Help From My Friends”. That was when George Harrison appeared and performed the track with all of them.

The Dutch-American guitarist never talked a lot about The Beatles. But he revealed in an interview with Guitar World magazine in 1981 that it was one of the bands he listened to when he was young.

“Who wants to sit at the piano! I want to go crazy. Everybody turned me on. I grew up on a lot of early Beatles, DC5, Cream, Clapton, Page, Beck and Hendrix,” Eddie Van Halen said.

Eric Clapton

Another guitarist that George Harrison mentioned was Eric Clapton, who was not only one of his favorites but also one of his best friends. Their friendship started in the 60s and only grew bigger over the decades. He was even invited to play the guitar solo on The Beatles classic song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, written by George and released in 1968. That made Clapton be the only guitarist who was not a member of the band to play in a Beatles song.

Talking with Guitar Player magazine in 1987, Harrison praised his friend. He said that there were things that Clapton could easily play and in his case it would take all night to learn. “Yeah, I love Eric. I love the touch he has on his guitar. (…) There’s things that Eric can do where it would take me all night to get it right. He can knock it off in one take because he plays all the time.”

He continued:

“But then again, when we’re listening to some of my slide bits, he’ll look at me, and I know he likes it. And that, for me, if Eric gives me the thumbs up on a slide solo, it means more than half the population,” George Harrison said.

Curiously, they also were in a kind of love triangle. Because Patty Boyd was first married to George and Clapton kind of “stole” her from the Beatle. In an interview back in the 80s (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Harrison even joked about that. “We shared the same wife (laughs). I’ve been friends with Eric for years and I think I always will be. He’s a lovely fella and I love him very dearly.”

Even after that they remained good friends and Clapton played on many of Harrison’s records. Both even toured together in the early 90s.

Robert Johnson

It’s possible to hear many Blues licks in George’s guitar playing and he really loved that music genre. In the interview he listed his favorite guitarists he mentioned the legendary Robert Johnson “I like a lot of the old Blues players. Many of them, like Robert Johnson,” Harrison said.

Johnson is also one of Clapton’s favorites and he kind of was the first musician from the infamous “27 club”. There is a lot of mystery involving his career and history. The famous legend says that he even sold his soul to devil to be a famous guitar player. But besides all that, he is one of the most influential Blues guitarists in history and music wouldn’t have been the same without him.

The Beatle loved to hear Johnson as he revealed in an interview with Countdown in 1988. “My own (music) is not my favorite. Not really. I like it when I’m doing it. But I like all kinds of music. Ravi Shankar, Hawaiian music, Django Reinhardt, Robert Johnson. All kinds of music,” George Harrison said.

Django Reinhardt

Another old guitar player and composer who Harrison mentioned was the Romani-Belgian Django Reinhardt. He was one of the first major jazz musicians who were born in Europe and caused a huge impact in music. At that time those kinds of players were more located in the United States.

In an interview with Spencer Leigh on the BBC Radio Merseyside programme, On The Beat, the session guitarist and former Wings member, Laurence Juber revealed what George said about Django. “When I worked with George Harrison, he told me that when he was 13, he had some jazz guitar lessons from someone on the boats who was familiar with Django Reinhardt. Those diminished chords that George uses came from Django. So he was a very sophisticated guitar player,” Laurence Juber said.

Eddie Lang

The second American guitarist mentioned by George Harrison as one of his favorites was Eddie Lang. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1936, becoming at the early 50s the second guitarist in Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones.

From then on he started to make his own records and became one of the most influential R&B and soul artists in history. He passed away too soon at the age of 49 at his home in Slidell, Louisiana in 1985.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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