The late George Harrison was the most measured member of The Beatles, a figure who typically never had a bad word to say about anyone, especially his contemporaries. However, this rare footage of Harrison in the studio sees him badmouthing Neil Young and he made it abundantly clear that he was not a fan of the iconic artist’s guitar playing, by any stretch of the imagination.
The footage, which is taken from a session spent in the studio in 1992, arrived at a time when he provided vocals on Dave Stewart’s cover of Harrison’s 1975 track ‘This Guitar’. The high-profile meeting of minds also included Bob Geldof and Chucho Merchan who joined the recording day.
There are many fascinating points in the video, including Harrison as he discusses the making of his timeless track ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, in which he discloses: “There is a natural tendency to go to speed up, when we started rehearsing that and then Eric said ‘much slower’, I thought it can’t be that slow.”
Harrison continued: “So we started rehearsing it really slow and then we played the record and it is slow which has more impact, when you speed up something gets lost, it gets too kind of twee.”
Geldof then probes him if he had heard Neil Young’s ‘Around The World’, which provoked an unexpected response from Harrison: “I’m not a Neil Young fan,” he replied. Geldof then went on to wax lyrical about Young’s immense guitar playing which saw the former Beatle interrupt him by bluntly stating: “I hate it, yeah I can’t stand it”.
Harrison then mimicked Young playing the guitar before adding: “It’s good for a laugh. We did this show with him, I saw it from the other side of the stage and looked around, I looked at Eric and said ‘what’s going on?’ He did the solo in the middle then he kind of looked at me like – ‘don’t look at me, it’s not me’.”
The Boomtown Rats man goes on to state how much he likes Russ Never Sleeps by Crazy Horse & Neil Young before Harrison added: “It’s mainly his voice, I liked some of his songs but I hated the sound of his voice, his singing is even worse than me.”
The dislike didn’t go both ways, however, with Neil Young detailing in an interview with Rolling Stone all the way back in 1975, a time when he first publically professed his admiration for the work of The Beatles, revealing: “I remember singing Beatles tunes… the first song I ever sang in front of people was It Won’t Be Long, and then Money (That’s What I Want). That was in Calvin High School [Winnipeg] cafeteria. My big moment.”
Young was also the person who would induct Paul McCartney into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during a ceremony in 1999 and the two have played together on a number of occasions over the years due to their great respect they have for one another.
Watch the footage of Harrison in the studio and cut to the 14-minute mark to hear his thoughts on Neil Young.