Don't Weep Make it Happen
George was a talented guitarist.
Talented enough to impress a friend in the year above him at school.
And when you’re fifteen, its very hard to impress a sixteen-year-old.
Its even harder to get his eighteen-year-old pal to say you can join his band, The Quarrymen.
And George was fundamental to their sound.
He wasn’t a particularly fast, noisy or flashy showman.
But George truly understood his instrument.
Stretching not only the band, but also, eventually, musical boundaries.
He was a virtuoso player of numerous stringed instruments.
George didn’t draw attention to himself by belting out self-indulgent solos.
He simply made the right decisions, never playing a note out of place.
Not safe and predictable, but understated and sophisticated.
Drawing his influences from a huge array of sources: from jazz to rockabilly.
His structured chord vocabulary,versatile and tasteful.
Playing with clarity, feeling and an unmistakable tone.
He paved the way for the likes of The Smiths Johnny Marr, his signature style perfectly showcased Morrissey’s baritone, without the need for showboating solos.
So opposed to guitar heroics was George, that when he penned a song that was crying out for him to exhibit his own talents, he didn’t.
Because his problem was bigger than a guitar solo.
On the 25 July 1969, The Beatles (the band The Quarrymen became) began recording’While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.
But it wasn’t working.
John and Paul weren’t taking it seriously, because they were only interested in recording their own songs.
Being the third-best songwriter in the best band in the world was a difficult place to be.
But George knew the song was pretty good.
The next day, while driving into London with a friend, he asked him to play on it.
His friend was reluctant, because no one else ever played on a Beatles record.
George was persuasive.
So, on the evening of 6 September his friend joined them in the studio.
Using Harrison’s Gibson Les Paul, Eric Clapton performed his solo.
Harrison knew this would make them take his idea seriously.
Clapton’s presence put the band on their best behaviour.
They all tried that bit harder.
Georges problem wasn’t his songwriting or his guitar playing, it was finding a way to change the game.
Creatives need to understand that sometimes a great idea isn’t enough: you have to be able to make it happen.
Create the conditions for success.
Get the best people on the job.
And make collaboration a core part of your DNA, because brands built today need to be more multidimensional.
Like George, sometimes arm’s-length orchestration is more effective than being a flashy soloist.
Footnote: George Harrison’s first six studio albums released between 1968 and 1975 on the Beatles Apple label have been newly remastered as part of a box set. The Apple Years 1968-75 is available now. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/theapple-years-1968-75/id913049423