George Harrison, the former guitarist of The Beatles was a lover of a wide array of music and had an open mind when it came to the newest sounds, and it was this forward-thinking attitude that allowed him to create countless masterpieces both within the confines of the Liverpool band and in his illustrious solo career.
Whilst he is quoted as being critical of a host of artists, broadly, Harrison was a sponge when it came to music, soaking it all up and being blown away by just how progressive music unfailingly is.
Although Harrison had his finger on the pulse with the current sounds, one of the most prominent bands of the 1970s managed to elude him for years until the late 1980s. When speaking to Warner Brothers Music in 1987 to promote his record Cloud Nine, Harrison revealed that he had only really heard the music of Deep Purple years after their iconic original frontman, Ian Gillan had left the group in 1973.
Harrison explained that Deep Purple came into his orbit after he met their keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice, who were both his neighbours.
The former Beatles man said: “They’re my neighbours, two of them, Jon and Ian. They live near me and I’ve known them now for probably 8, 9 years. Yet they were so famous in the 70s, I got to know them in the period after they broken up before they reformed. So I never knew their music. I mean, I heard this one thing about ‘Smoke On The Water’ or something like that. I’ve actually never seen them and I heard that they are in the Guinness Book Of Records for being the loudest group in the world.”
Harrison then turned his attention to the time that he first saw Deep Purple live, expressing that he “really enjoyed” the show and that it was also the source of much laughter, mainly due to Ian Gillan who he described as “really funny”.
He recalled: “So I thought, well, I was in Australia at the time and they happened to be doing a concert in Sydney. So I thought I’d go an check them out, get my earplugs and go and see them. I really enjoyed the show. I sat on the stage for part of the show behind the loudspeakers and then I walked down and sat right on the center of the hall and it was not too loud. It was really funny, I liked it.”
“I thought Ian, who is my neighbour, Ian Paice, he is such a good drummer and Jon Lord, rocking his organ (laughs). Ian Gillan, I thought he is just a scream, he is really funny. I enjoyed and they said ‘Hey! Here’s a guitar, come on!’ So I just went on and sang, I don’t know what it was, I was playing the wrong key but it didn’t seem to matter”, Harrison concluded.