George Harrison was NOT a Fan of Neil Young
George Harrison was known as “the quiet Beatle”. There are many stories of George being the least confrontational and most easygoing of the four lads. Neil Young is a rock legend known for his musical versatility. Folk, rock…Neil did it all. His crunchy guitar sound and lack of rock star accoutrements has even earned him the moniker of “The Godfather of Grunge”
Considering that these two rock legends were known as “nice guys” it comes as a surprise that George Harrison didn’t have much good to say about Neil. But it’s all on video.
This is from a studio session in 1992. George, Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics, Sir Bob Geldof of Boomtown rats and Columbian guitarist Chucho Merchan were recording a cover of one of George’s songs. At the 14:00 mark in the video Geldof asks George if he’d heard a certain track by Neil Young. Geldof goes on to praise Neil Young’s guitar work on that song, specifically his use of feedback. Then Harrison drops the bomb: “I’m not a Neil Young fan”. This is at the 14:30 mark…meaning George Harrison, one of the most laid back rock stars of all time, could only contain himself for THIRTY SECONDS until he had to let Bob Geldof know what he thought of Neil Young. Geldof then begins to say the he specifically admires Neil’s lead guitar work. This, George cannot abide.
At 14:35: “I hate it.”
George then does a vocal imitation of what he hates so much about Neil Young’s guitar playing. He makes a “bwooooing” sound that indicates playing one note and then make it vibrato for an entire solo. It immediately reminded me of Neil’s second lead break on “Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World”.
CAPTION: “Yeah! BWOOOOOING! Neil Young is a guitar god!” ---every Seattle band of the 1990’s.
George then goes on to talk about how that kind of playing is “good for a laugh”. After a few awkward moments of Neil-bashing, Bob tries to move past it by saying he really likes some of Neil’s work, such as “Rust Never Sleeps”. George concedes that he’s heard Neil is a nice guy…and then immediately goes into self-deprecating-but-actually-Neil-Young-deprecating mode: “He’s the one person whose singing is worse than mine”.