The loss of George Harrison is still felt so severely in the music world today. Despite it being almost 20 years on from when we lost the coolest member of The Beatles. It was a sentiment that felt raw and painful upon his death in 2001, many felt the need to heal and the best way to do it was to pick up a guitar and strum it out.
The ‘Concert for George’ was the perfect tribute to him, the most poignant moment came when his two close friends Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton came together for a special performance of his classic song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.
The concert took place at London’s famous Royal Albert Hall in London on 29 November 2002 — a year to the day since his death. The event was organised by Harrison’s widow, Olivia, along with their son, Dhani, they chose for the profits from the event to go to the Material World Charitable Foundation, an organisation which was founded by Harrison.
Harrison’s longtime friend and collaborator, Eric Clapton agreed to play a large role in curating the musical events of the evening, it would ensure that the evening was appropriately star-studded.
The evening opened with a glorious performance that George would have been guaranteed to love, courtesy of Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi Shankar, playing ‘Your Eyes’. This was then followed by Shankar being joined on stage by Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne to play ‘The Inner Light’ which was one of Harrison’s Beatles numbers. The man himself, Ravi Shankar, then arrived on stage to perform a specially written composition called ‘Arpan’.
Following some comedy featuring some members of Monty Python (an act Harrison will forever be linked with), the music returned emphatically as the audience was treated to a full concert from ‘George’s Band’.
The band featured Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, as well as appearances from iconic musicians such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, Jools Holland, Albert Lee, Sam Brown, Gary Brooker, Joe Brown, Ray Cooper, Andy Fairweather-Low, Marc Mann, Dave Bronze, Klaus Voormann, Harrison’s son Dhani, and more people who played alongside George over his career.
Perhaps the most special moment came when Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr joined forces for a perfect rendition of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, which would have almost definitely made Harrison proud as his music lives on through his nearest and dearest.
Although Clapton wasn’t credited on the album’s notes, he played a pivotal part on the track which originally featured on The Beatles’ seminal The White Album with him taking up the lead guitar on it.
Clapton was initially trepidatious about playing the lead guitar on this song because he was apprehensive about what the other members of The Beatles would think about his presence but after some convincing from Harrison, he finally agreed. Clapton’s presence actually had the adverse effect as to what he imagined with it actually easing the mood in the studio at a time when The Beatles were usually constantly at each other’s throats.
Watch the incredible footage from the Royal Albert Hall in 2002 below as McCartney, Clapton and Starr toast a friend they lost painfully prematurely.