Looking back at the moment, arguably the founders of heavy metal, the wonderful and acclaimed Deep Purple, were joined on stage by their longtime friend, influence and Beatles guitarist George Harrison to deliver a stunning jam in Sydney, Australia.
It’s one of the most intriguing combinations of talent that we’ve heard in a long time. The vintage footage captures Harrison’s unique playing style mixed with some of the heaviest rockers in the business during the 1980s as they take the stage for a memorable performance of a rock and roll classic.
The connection between George Harrison and Deep Purple’s drummer Ian Paice, who were also one time neighbours, and the band’s late keyboardist Jon Lord clearly runs very deep. One moment you can see this strong bond is in this footage which sees Harrison join the band for a special performance. It’s not often you get to witness two such huge performers come together, so this is certainly worth savouring.
Harrison had been enjoying his time while on holiday in Australia when Paice and Lord contacted The Beatles man to invite him to perform in Sydney, seizing their opportunity and gaining a massive coup for the audience set to be in attendance. Ever helpful to his friends, Harrison naturally agreed to the proposal.
The word ‘natural’ is ideally placed for this performance. The group look not only comfortable with Harrison joining in but that Harrison has always been a part of the band. A man who has had a hand in some huge groups, The Beatles and The Travelling Wilburys, to name two, Harrison is in his element. One fun moment in the performance is how Harrison was introduced; the band reference the guitarist’s childhood address by welcoming “Arnold Grove from Liverpool”.
With Harrison under the spotlight and in front of the audience, there was only one more thing left to bring — rock and roll. So Deep Purple, accompanied by George Harrison, run through an extended jam session on Little Richard’s iconic bop, ‘Lucille’, a song the guitarist would have been thrilled to perform thanks to Richards’ overarching influence on The Beatles.
The footage not only shows the incredible talent of Harrison and Deep Purple but confirms the deep bond they shared with one another. It’s refreshing to see how rock and roll can bring people together.
“We were very close, I adored him. He was one of the most delightful of men,” Jon Lord told Rick Wakeman in adoration of Harrison, a man who had opened the door for so many artists. Like many of his contemporaries, like Keith Richards and David Gilmour have cited the Beatle as one of their primary influences.
It’s no surprise he was impressed by his musicianship: “I thought he was an astonishingly good musician. I thought he had a way of looking at harmony that was quite unusual. He’s often overshadowed – and people have said that before. It’s not an original thought. But he was often overshadowed by [John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney because they were so prolific.”
It’s an opinion shared by icons such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and, in 1984, Harrison was still clearly capable of delivering some killer licks on the guitar. Though his rock and roll heyday was comparatively behind him, the Quiet Beatle still knew how to make a racket.
You can watch the footage of George Harrison joining Deep Purple on stage for a special performance of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’, below.