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What would the band have been without George?
14 December 2013
5.30am
parlance
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[Reposting due to the migration. I have all the posts from this topic saved and can repost them tomorrow over a few posts. If anyone's *not* okay with that, let me know. I just didn't want a great discussion to get lost.]

I was talking with a friend about how so much of the credit for the innovation and quality in The Beatles' music goes to John and Paul, you would think that George did nothing but play sitar, take orders, and write the occasional weird song. I'll say what I always say – the whole of The Beatles was greater than the sum of it's parts. And the band wouldn't be the band we love without George. I think most of you will agree, but I wanted to put that to a discussion. What specifically did George contribute – musically or otherwise – to make the band as great as it was? And what do you think they would have been without him? This is one area I wish the Scorcese doc had covered more in depth, btw.

I'll start with one thing – we may not have had Ringo. The others were interested, but George was the one to champion his becoming a member.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
5.54am
trcanberra
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Answering the actual question - a trio :)

14 December 2013
5.55am
Ron Nasty
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If you have lost posts that we were too stupid to keep, parlance, repost each and every one as quickly as you can!

We're a*holes! Sorry!

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
14 December 2013
5.56am
trcanberra
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parlance said
[Reposting due to the migration. I have all the posts from this topic saved and can repost them tomorrow over a few posts. If anyone's *not* okay with that, let me know. I just didn't want a great discussion to get lost.]

I was talking with a friend about how so much of the credit for the innovation and quality in The Beatles' music goes to John and Paul, you would think that George did nothing but play sitar, take orders, and write the occasional weird song. I'll say what I always say – the whole of The Beatles was greater than the sum of it's parts. And the band wouldn't be the band we love without George. I think most of you will agree, but I wanted to put that to a discussion. What specifically did George contribute – musically or otherwise – to make the band as great as it was? And what do you think they would have been without him? This is one area I wish the Scorcese doc had covered more in depth, btw.

I'll start with one thing – we may not have had Ringo. The others were interested, but George was the one to champion his becoming a member.

parlance

I recall noting the significant role George played in many songs; the example I gave being suggesting the 'all the lonely people' line in Eleanor Rigby, it's not as good a song without that bit.

As an aside, while there are a lot of good solo songs by all of the fabs, in my mind there are not as many great solo songs because none of them had their mates about to make that crucial extra suggestion.

 

14 December 2013
6.34am
parlance
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trcanberra said
Answering the actual question - a trio :)

Still cracks me up.

Okay, reposting over the next few...

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.37am
parlance
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Ben Ramon

12 December 2013 12.39pm

From a musical standpoint, it's crucial to consider that two of the Beatles' most enduring albums – Revolver and Abbey Road – owe a huge amount to George's playing. Think about how much Revolver owes to George's hard, shimmering tone and Eastern playing style. The only reason George doesn't seem to figure as heavily guitar-wise in the Beatles' later output is because the orchestral approach that defined Sgt Peppers' didn't call for any lead guitar – having struggled during their early years, he rose to prominence in '66 and then was pushed down again. By the time he truly came into his own in '68 and '69, band relations had broken down too much for him to truly be appreciated as a great lead player.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.38am
parlance
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Inner Light

12 December 2013 12.40pm

Great Topic! Harrison was very important to the group as a whole. His guitar playing has had mixed reactions from many on this site but as McCartney say's in the LITMW special, they needed a really good guitar player that could solo. He always wrote his solos to fit the song. Not being too flashy but just the right touch which added to their sound. I still feel that George was the most innovative of the four. He was a major factor in merging eastern and western music and bringing Ravi Shankar to the forefront. His unique style and the ability to try out new ways of expressing himself, including the sitar which was a major breakthrough in western music for me is unparalleled. I look at John, Paul and George as the trio. All could sing lead and all were great songwriters. As McCartney has put it, The Beatles were a rectangle and if any of the four corners collapsed, it would not have been the same including Ringo. As his songwriting blossomed, he became in my opinion as good of a songwriter as J&P. His talent as a songwriter was always there but he was not interested in the early days as much and was happy playing lead guitar. Could the group of replaced George with let's say Clapton, of course but the sound that we know and love would have been majorly altered. George had a very special talent of being able to add frosting and just the right touch to the cake to make a song better and that is what made him in my opinion a necessity and why he was important and had a major impact to the group as a whole.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.42am
parlance
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parlance

12 December 2013 12.54pm

 

Ben Ramon said

From a musical standpoint, it's crucial to consider that two of the Beatles' most enduring albums – Revolver and Abbey Road – owe a huge amount to George's playing. Think about how much Revolver owes to George's hard, shimmering tone and Eastern playing style.

Thanks, Ben. You certainly don't get the sense from most critics/musical scholars that George was instrumental (pardon the pun) in the sound of Revolver.

The only reason George doesn't seem to figure as heavily guitar-wise in the Beatles' later output is because the orchestral approach that defined Sgt Peppers' didn't call for any lead guitar – having struggled during their early years, he rose to prominence in '66 and then was pushed down again. By the time he truly came into his own in '68 and '69, band relations had broken down too much for him to truly be appreciated as a great lead player.

Great points regarding timing.

 

Inner Light said

Great Topic! Harrison was very important to the group as a whole. His guitar playing has had mixed reactions from many on this site but as McCartney say's in the LITMW special, they needed a really good guitar player that could solo. He always wrote his solos to fit the song. Not being too flashy but just the right touch which added to their sound.

I think you hit on a reason why George is often underrated as a guitar player – because he wasn't flashy. The one guitar solo people often point out as the "greatest" – Taxman – was of course, Paul's. But there's much to be said for a soloist who was solid and creative but didn't overwhelm.

George had a very special talent of being able to add frosting and just the right touch to the cake to make a song better and that is what made him in my opinion a necessity and why he was important and had a major impact to the group as a whole.

Agreed, well said.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.43am
parlance
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trcanberra

12 December 2013 3.40pm

I totally agree with "George had a very special talent of being able to add frosting and just the right touch to the cake to make a song better and that is what made him in my opinion a necessity and why he was important and had a major impact to the group as a whole."

Just look at Eleanor Rigby for one – totally different song without him.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.46am
parlance
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Into the Sky with Diamonds

12 December 2013 3.51pm

I agree with everything and everyone.

But "Eleanor Rigby"?

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.48am
parlance
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meanmistermustard

12 December 2013 3.52pm

We really could change a few details here and there and it would be Ringo who was being discussed.

Instead of "George had a very special talent of being able to add frosting and just the right touch to the cake to make a song better and that is what made him in my opinion a necessity and why he was important and had a major impact to the group as a whole."

you get

"Ringo had a very special talent of being able to add frosting and just the right touch to the cake to make a song better and that is what made him in my opinion a necessity and why he was important and had a major impact to the group as a whole." and it still stands.

I agree with everything said above by the way.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.50am
parlance
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acmac

12 December 2013 3.58pm

I don't think the Beatles would have become the global phenomenon that they were, or scaled such artistic heights, if you removed any one of them from the equation.

Specifics:

Besides being a solid lead and soloist from the start (without which they couldn't have got off the ground in the first place), I think in later years George's playing lent tremendous beauty to the Beatles' sound. I enjoy Paul's mad, gritty solos as much as anyone, but they're not the bread and butter of the Beatles' sound. George's playing ranged from the subtle to the sublime, always in service to the song, and had a lovely fluidity to it. The triptych of Ringo's organic drumming, Paul's melodic bass, and George's lovely guitar is just killer.

IIRC George also sang most of those thankless and tricky middle harmony parts, and his voice could have a sort of neutral quality that blended really well into the Lennon/McCartney mix. And he grew enormously as a vocalist over the years; he became quite versatile and developed wonderful phrasing and expressiveness.

And of course his songwriting was integral. I tend to prefer John's and Paul's songs, personally, but there's no denying that George's contributions made everything a lot more interesting. Another facet to the diamond, so to speak, which added depth and variety and and texture to the Beatles' oeuvre. This is a massive generalization but I think both John and Paul tended to express themselves indirectly; Paul through storytelling and melody and metaphor, John through wordplay, navel-gazing, and sonic weirdness. When a George song comes on, his frankness and honesty is like a breath of fresh air, a palette cleanser that gets your brain moving in a welcome new direction.

And then there's his importance to their interpersonal dynamic, which is a whole other kettle of wax!

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.51am
parlance
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meanmistermustard

12 December 2013 4.11pm

Can i just add that along with Paul's bass, George's lead and Ringo's bass, John's rhythm guitar was brilliant and just as important. It seems to get overlooked so often but John really was a fabulous rhythm guitarist.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
6.53am
parlance
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trcanberra

12 December 2013 4.25pm

Into the Sky with Diamonds said

I agree with everything and everyone.

But "Eleanor Rigby"?

From wiki and other sources:

"Harrison came up with the "Ah, look at all the lonely people" hook."

It makes the song. Just one example of George's crucial input – there are many more.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
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parlance
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Monkey Finger

12 December 2013 5.14pm

acmac said

I don't think the Beatles would have become the global phenomenon that they were, or scaled such artistic heights, if you removed any one of them from the equation.

I absolutely agree with this. a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

As for George's part of the equation, I think he had self-discipline as a musician that the others didn't have. Not to say the others didn't work hard, but George didn't have Paul's natural ability of being a (seemingly) effortless musician adept at several instruments, nor did he have John's "quirky artist" wordsmithing skills, although he was capable of writing some clever lyrics as time went on.

In other words, I think since it didn't come as naturally to him as the others, he worked harder at it and that dedication paid off. To his credit, he wasn't too intimidated by the Lennon-McCartney juggernaut to the point that he sank into the background and became just a session guitarist for their songs. Instead, he became an even better guitarist and songwriter because of it. "Something" stands up there as one of the best songs the band ever did, imo.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
7.04am
parlance
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Atlas

12 December 2013 5.26pm

My two favorite guitar breaks from George are on Taxman….. And 'Good Morning' from Sgt. Pepper.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
7.06am
parlance
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Ben Ramon

13 December 2013 3.41am

acmac said

IIRC George also sang most of those thankless and tricky middle harmony parts, and his voice could have a sort of neutral quality that blended really well into the Lennon/McCartney mix. And he grew enormously as a vocalist over the years; he became quite versatile and developed wonderful phrasing and expressiveness.

I meant to say this earlier actually. George usually sang the most difficult harmony lines (and wrote some difficult ones as well – witness John's difficulty with grasping the tonality of the Think For Yourself harmonies). While he wasn't as strong a lead singer as John or Paul in the early days, they were very lucky to have a lead guitarist with a good ear for fitting his voice into a chord.

I believe it was Elvis Costello that said "George's guitar breaks weren't technically mind-blowing or flashy, but you could sing every one of them." And it's true. Take, for one of many instances, the opening of Help! What would it be without those descending low lead guitar lines – not to mention that isolated country jangle just before the verse kicks in?

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
7.13am
parlance
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meanmistermustard

13 December 2013 4.24am

Ben Ramon said

acmac said

IIRC George also sang most of those thankless and tricky middle harmony parts, and his voice could have a sort of neutral quality that blended really well into the Lennon/McCartney mix. And he grew enormously as a vocalist over the years; he became quite versatile and developed wonderful phrasing and expressiveness.

I meant to say this earlier actually. George usually sang the most difficult harmony lines (and wrote some difficult ones as well – witness John's difficulty with grasping the tonality of the Think For Yourself harmonies). While he wasn't as strong a lead singer as John or Paul in the early days, they were very lucky to have a lead guitarist with a good ear for fitting his voice into a chord.

I believe it was Elvis Costello that said "George's guitar breaks weren't technically mind-blowing or flashy, but you could sing every one of them." And it's true. Take, for one of many instances, the opening of Help! What would it be without those descending low lead guitar lines – not to mention that isolated country jangle just before the verse kicks in?

 

Here you go. Help! Take 9 with George's lead guitar absent, it was overdubbed later.

 

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

14 December 2013
7.19am
parlance
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parlance

13 December 2013 8.16am

meanmistermustard said

We really could change a few details here and there and it would be Ringo who was being discussed.

 

I agree, but for some reason I've found it easier to make the case for Ringo than for George, so I wanted to see how other people would do it.

 

Here you go. Help! Take 9 with George's lead guitar absent, it was overdubbed later.

 

Aw, listen, it becomes a sweet folk song. Yeah, much better with George's contribution.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

17 December 2013
9.54am
bewareofchairs
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Great topic, parlance! Thanks for posting the replies.

I haven't read all of Tune In, but one thing which stands out to me is that it really shows how integral George was to the band's success. He was as keen as Paul to make sure they were the best band (getting Ringo in, for instance) and even was the one to keep them going at certain points. He was also the trend-setter (first to get the leather gear, first to get an electric guitar, first to grow a moustache, etc.).

I think several of John's best songs, in particular, would sound very different without George's contributions and the musical influences and instruments he brought in. We also wouldn't have the addition of Billy Preston without George.

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