It took all the way to 1987 for George Harrison to return to the spotlight. He kept quiet during most of the ’80s, making occasional live and studio guest appearances but didn’t release an album for five years after 1982’s Gone Troppo. But when Harrison came back, he came back big.
1987’s Cloud Nine wasn’t just a respectable album from a past-his-prime legend: it was a bonafide pop success, reaching the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and reaching platinum sales status in the US. Harrison even made it all the way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with his cover of Rudy Clark song ‘I Got My Mind Set On You’, which was at the top spot the same week that The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Only a year later, Harrison continued his mainstream run with the success of his supergroup The Traveling Wilburys.
But this return to the pop star spotlight didn’t translate into a return to the road for Harrison. Apart from a series of shows in Tokyo in 1991 with Eric Clapton, Harrison had unofficially retired from touring after the difficult 1974 tour in support of Dark Horse. Long stretches of live performances were no longer in the cards for Harrison, but he occasionally made appearances when the situation was right.
One of those situations was the Prince’s Trust concert at Wembley Arena on June 5th, 1987. Harrison accepted an invitation from Clapton to appear with him on stage, and Clapton managed to convince Harrison to perform a few of his most beloved Beatles numbers, including ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ (which Clapton guested on for the song’s studio recording) and ‘Here Comes the Sun’.
To close out the concert, Harrison brought out a guest of his own: Ringo Starr, who appeared to end the show with one final Beatles song, ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’. The footage from the concert remains proof that Harrison could have easily staged massively successful tours in his later years, had he wanted to. He was healthy, still had a strong voice, and was a major draw. Sadly, Harrison never really had the desire to do so, but his few stage performances in the 1980s and ’90s remain powerful and highly entertaining.
Watch Harrison, Clapton, and Starr join Elton John, Phil Collins, and others to perform ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ down below.