George Harrison and Paul Simon shared a true friendship that lasted decades right up until the Beatle’s tragic death. Together, they famously shared the stage on Saturday Night Live in 1976, but their relationship wasn’t confined to that iconic night at Studio 8H in 30 Rockerfella Plaza.
However, that famous performance does epitomise the sheer talents of the two men and how they complemented each other in spine-tingling fashion. The singer quickly turned on his moniker of the ‘Quiet Beatle’ and took on two tracks accompanied by Simon, as they duetted tracks including ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and his new partner in crime’s number ‘Homeward Bound’.
The pair ran through four songs across the show, and their performances are held loftily as some of the best in the show’s long and illustrious history. The reality, of course, is that you rarely get to see such a songwriting talent share the stage with another — but those tuning in got treated to a performance that they’d never forget.
When Paul Simon appeared on Conan, the first thing that the host was dying to ask was about that performance and his relationship with the Beatles’ secret weapon. “He was an extraordinary guy; everybody knows that,” he told Conan in 2014. “Amazing person, not just a musician but really brave, open, kind. Just a certain percentage of him Beatles but the rest, he was just regular. Just interested in life, interested in the world, interested in the mind. A pleasure to hang out with him.
“He had lots of ukuleles. He loved to play the ukulele, so you’d just give him a ukulele and say, let’s play. He had a great jukebox,” Simon says with a glint in his eye as he recollects his fond memories at Friar Park. “His jukebox was full of all the music he listened to as a kid, which is pretty much what I listened to too, but with a slight English variation on it.”
Simon then divulged more about what it was like spending precious time in Harrison’s company. One anecdote especially sheds light on George’s lighthearted personality and how he always one eye on pulling pranks, with Ringo Starr being the victim of most scenarios.
Simon gleefully recalled: “I loved this what he said, when you drive in there’s these enormous boulders and I said, ‘Is that a sculpture or is that natural on the property?’, and he said, ‘No, they were on the property. We brought them here and put them on this field over here’.
“Right around that time, Paul McCartney had put out an album called Standing Stone, but George said when Ringo came here to visit and asked about the stones, I told him, ‘Oh yeah, Paul sent those to us as a promo’,” Simon chuckled.
The stories from Simon don’t exactly tell us anything we didn’t know already about George Harrison being a great guy and somebody you’d love to spend a moment with. However, they do re-affirm everything that we all already believe about him and how he’d always try his hardest to make Ringo the butt of a joke whenever possible.