The surprising guitarist George Harrison called “pretty hot”

The late George Harrison was not only one of the finest songwriters of all time but one of the best guitarists the world has ever known. Without his technical proficiency, The Beatles wouldn’t have boasted the dynamic, melodic edge that saw them take over the world.

The writer of classics such as ‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Something’ and ‘Taxman’, the evidence of Harrison’s guitar-playing prowess isn’t only found in The Beatles’ oeuvre, with his solo efforts also a clear indicator of his immense skill. During the post-Beatles era, Harrison could experiment and refine his craft, free from the looming dominance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Given that he tried his hand at a colourful mix of styles throughout his career, it makes sense that Harrison cited a host of different figures as heroes. When talking to Alan Freeman for Rock Around the World in 1974, a discussion later used in Martin Scorsese’s 2011 documentary Living in the Material World, Harrison noted how many people impacted him in establishing his style.

One man he was particularly effusive about was the late rock and roll star Buddy Holly. Harrison said: “I think one of the greatest people for me was Buddy Holly because, first of all, he sang, wrote his own tunes, was a guitar player, and he was very good – exceptionally good – but as a guitar player I started trying to learn the guitar. I got a manual, and it showed me all the wrong chords”.

In light of his genius, Harrison was often asked to discuss his guitar-playing idols. Later in his career, when interviewed on Sky, the Liverpudlian musician was met with the rather broad question: “Who do you think is the best guitarist?” After clarifying whether the interviewer wanted dead or alive figures, Harrison gave a comprehensive list spanning the guitar’s history.

However, the most fascinating moment was when he described metal virtuoso Eddie Van Halen – who popularised string-tapping with tracks such as ‘Eruption’ – as “pretty hot”. As Harrison was known for his calming demeanour to the extent he was dubbed ‘The Quiet One’ in The Beatles, it comes as something of a surprise that he should be a fan of Eddie Van Halen and his visceral style. Yet, this was George Harrison, and he appreciated almost all great art.

Harrison said: “Well, this is a lot of guitar players. I like a guy called Eddie Lang, and a guy called Django Reinhardt. And these days, out of the contemporary players, I think Eddie Van Halen’s pretty hot. I like, of course, Eric Clapton, I like a lot of the old blues players, you know, like, many of them, like Robert Johnson.”

Watch the clip below.

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