Watch George Harrison and Eric Clapton perform Beatles classic ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ with an all-star band in 1987
We’re digging through the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you an all-star performance from an incredible Prince’s Trust show in 1987. It saw George Harrison alongside Eric Clapton perform The Beatles classic ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ backed by an all-star band.
When we say all-star, we really do mean an all-star band. The group included not only fellow Beatle Ringo Starr but also guitar genius Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Elton John and so many more. The moment Harrison joined the group to sing the Beatles classic will go down as the perfect culmination of talent.
The Prince’s Trust, a wonderful British charity has a reputation for putting on some incredible shows. While much of it’s funding is now done offstage, during the eighties the charity provided some monumental events for fans who got the chance to see a host of legends all on one stage—but there was no better performance than the 1987 event.
On the bill that night, was Elton John, Jeff Lynne, Phil Collins, Ben E. King, Bryan Adams and Dave Edmunds a truly impressive collection of musicians led by Eric Clapton. It was perhaps the reason the latter was on stage that when the group introduced Starr and Harrison, the all-star band launched into ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.
The track was written by Harrison for The Beatles’ White Album and has always been treasured as a transcendent moment for the band and Harrison—but it wouldn’t have happened without his friend Eric Clapton.
In a 1987 interview with Guitar Player Magazine, Harrison was asked whether it had bruised his ego to ask Clapton to play on the song. “No, my ego would rather have Eric play on it. I’ll tell you, I worked on that song with John, Paul, and Ringo one day, and they were not interested in it at all,” he said. “And I knew inside of me that it was a nice song.”
Harrison added: “The next day I was with Eric, and I was going into the session, and I said, ‘We’re going to do this song. Come on and play on it’. He said, ‘Oh, no. I can’t do that. Nobody ever plays on the Beatles records’. I said, ‘Look, it’s my song, and I want you to play on it’. So Eric came in, and the other guys were as good as gold because he was there.
“It left me free to just play the rhythm and do the vocal. So Eric played that, and I thought it was really good. Then we listened to it back, and he said, ‘Ah, there’s a problem, though; it’s not Beatley enough’ — so we put it through the ADT [automatic double-tracker], to wobble it a bit.” It made the song a shoo-in to be played whenever the two shared a stage.
Back to 1987 and as Starr and Harrison make their way on stage, Ringo takes himself to the happy familiarity of the background while George nervously straps on his guitar. The songwriter hadn’t performed live on stage since his 1974 and in the clip, you can see the butterflies in his stomach are well and truly flying.
Looking back at such a list of incredible musicians may well have calmed the famous guitarist as he begins to find his groove and sing the 1968 classic with passion and wit. Clapton is of course on hand to add that signature wobble and complete this joyous occasion.
So sit back and enjoy George Harrison and Eric Clapton performing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ with an all-star band below: