Before George became ill in 2001, he and Ringo were getting increasingly close - spent a lot of time together at George's house just outside London.
This is so heartwarming and I love all of the George references :) <3
Legendary Guitar: ‘Lucy’, George Harrison’s Well-Traveled Crimson Les Paul
During the height of mid-’60s Beatlemania, the guitars most frequently associated with George Harrison on tour and TV/film appearances were the Gretsch Country Gentleman, Rickenbacker 360/12 and the Epiphone Casino that both he and John Lennon wielded on their final 1966 world tour and sessions for the epochal Sgt. Pepper’s album. Harrison had also played a cherry-finish ’64 SG Standard during theRubber Soul/Revolver era, an instrument that shows up in promo films for “Paperback Writer,” “Rain” and “Lady Madonna.”
But in August of 1968, Eric Clapton gifted Harrison with a 1957 Les Paul Standard, now factory refinished to cherry red, that already had an impressive rock history — and would soon reach even greater heights. Harrison immediately dubbed his new crimson Les Paul ‘Lucy’ in honor of red-headed comedy icon Lucille Ball, then quickly put it to work recording the White Album outtake, “Not Guilty.” Within weeks George also appeared playing it in the Beatles promotional film for the single “Revolution,” which initially aired on David Frost’s U.K. TV show, and later on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour stateside.
In September, it would perform what remains one of the Beatles’, and rock’s, most iconic solos — but not in the hands of George Harrison. After the initial session for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Harrison admitted in a 1974 Crawdaddy interview, that because of ongoing tensions with main songwriters Lennon and McCartney he “went home really disappointed because I knew the song was good.”
“The next day I brought Eric Clapton with me [to the studio]. He was really nervous. I was saying, 'Just come and play on the session, then I can sing and play acoustic guitar.' Because what happened when Eric was there on that day … it helped, because the others would have to control themselves a bit more. Eric was nervous saying, 'No, what will they say?' And I was saying, 'F**k 'em, that's my song!'”
Harrison also admitted he lacked confidence in his own guitar work during the era, explaining that “I'd played sitar for three years. And I'd just listened to classical Indian music and practiced sitar — except for when we played dates, studio dates — and then I'd get the guitar out and just play, you know, learn a part for the record. But I'd really lost a lot of interest in the guitar.”
“[Eric and I] used to hang out such a lot at that period, and Eric gave me a fantastic Les Paul guitar, which is the one he plays on [“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”]. So it worked out well.”
Harrison used ‘Lucy’ frequently during the final studio dates for the White Album and the subsequent, haphazard Get Back/Let It Be recordings that followed in January, 1969, then played it extensively that summer on the Beatles swan song, Abbey Road. That’s ‘Lucy’ wailing on the middle of “The End”’s trio of brief guitar solos. George also took the crimson Les Paul on the road briefly with Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett later that year.
Harrison and ‘Lucy’ during Let It Be
As the legend goes, ‘Lucy’ was originally a late-’50s Les Paul Goldtop that had made its way to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, and then McCoys’ mainstay Rick Derringer, who’d sent it off to Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory for refinishing.
Decades later, Rick would recall “I loved playing it, but my dad — who’s always loved a guitar looking real good — used to comment on how it was kind of beat up. It was a very, very used guitar, even when I got it. But it played great. So I figured that since we didn’t live far from Gibson’s factory in Kalamazoo, the next time the group went there I’d give it to Gibson and have it refinished. I had it done at the factory in the SG-style clear red finish that was popular at the time.”
Yet Derringer noted that the instrument “just didn’t feel the same … it had changed into an altogether different guitar” after refinishing. So Rick traded it for a sunburst finish Les Paul at Dan Armstrong’s guitar shop in Manhattan, which is where Eric Clapton purchased it not long after.
But memories — especially those of veteran, hard-living rock stars — can be notoriously cloudy, while legends — particularly those surrounding the Beatles — tend to take on a life of their own, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Which is just what we encountered trying to track down photos documenting Harrison’s cherry-refinished Les Paul Standard in its original state. Which led us to wonder: Was ‘Lucy’ really a Goldtop in her first incarnation? Several pieces of circumstantial and visual evidence cast some doubts on the instrument’s generally accepted heritage.
The serial number on the rear of the instrument’s headstock — #7-8789 — does indeed correspond with a Goldtop that was shipped from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory in December 1957. But, as noted in Anthony Babiuk’s and Tony Bacon’s exhaustive reference book Beatles Gear, experts who’ve examined the instrument note that the style and typeface of ‘Lucy’’s serial number don’t match other instruments of its vintage.
While John Sebastian did indeed own a Goldtop, and is pictured playing it on the cover of his well-receivedReal Live John Sebastian concert album, that record was released in 1971, years after he had supposedly given the ax up to Derringer. Yet during the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ’60s prime, Sebastian frequently played what appears to be a similar vintage Les Paul Standard with a sunburst finish. It shows up on the cover of the band’s “Summer In the City” single, some concert shots, and a 1966 television clip of their biggest hit, “Daydream.”
The Lovin’s Spoonful with John Sebastian … and ‘Lucy’?
Rick Derringer was most frequently pictured playing an ES series during the McCoys’ “Hang On Sloopy” heyday. But a grainy, amateur snapshot taken at a 1967 dance featuring the band shows Derringer playing what appears to be a Les Paul Standard that appears very similar to the one Sebastian was documented using with the Lovin’ Spoonful the previous year — or is it the sunburst model Rick says he acquired from Dan Armstrong’s shop?
The McCoys and Rick Derringer, 1967
Perhaps only ‘Lucy’ knows for sure — and she’s not talking.
The fabled red Les Paul was stolen from under the bed of George Harrison’s Beverly Hills home during a burglary in the early ’70s. Eventually it ended up at the Guitar Center in Hollywood, where a musician from Mexico purchased the instrument for $650. After a complex set of negotiations involving a third party and a trip to Mexico, ‘Lucy’ was eventually returned to Harrison in exchange for a ’58 sunburst Les Paul and a Precision bass.
“[‘Lucy’] got kidnapped and taken to Guadalajara,” George would later muse, “and I had to buy this Mexican guy a Les Paul to get it back.” His beloved ‘Lucy’ Les Paul would remain a prized part of George Harrison’s collection until his death in 2001.
George Harrison’s collection in the ’80s; ‘Lucy’ is on the wall off his left shoulder
Hunter Davies found the lyric during his research for a new edition of The Beatles official biography, which has just been re released more than 40 years after its original publication. In its introduction, Hunter recalls how he collected Beatles lyrics discarded as scrap paper from the floor of Abbey Road studio and kept them as souvenirs. It’s almost certain that they would have been thrown out by the cleaners if he hadn’t picked them up.
Written in George’s handwriting, which all true Beatles fans will recognize, it’s not a song that he ever recorded, or perhaps even put music to, as far as we can tell. The girl George was dreaming about remains a mystery although it could have been his then wife Pattie Boyd. The lyric [sic] is eight lines long and reads a bit like teenage angst:
Im happy to say that its only a dream
when I come across people like you,
its only a dream and you make it obscene
with the things that you think and you do.
your so unaware of the pain that I bear
and jealous for what you cant do.
There’s times when I feel that you haven’t a
hope but I also know that isn’t true.
On the reverse side of George’s lyric are instructions on how to reach The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein’s country house in Sussex, written in Brian’s hand. This means that George must have written the lyric before August 1967 when Brian was found dead at his London home following an accidental sleeping pill overdose. Significantly, John Lennon would later claim that this signalled the beginning of the end for the Beatles.
Hunter Davies, The Beatles official biographer, said: “I can’t believe I’d kept George’s lyric all these years but had forgotten about it until now! Although George is no longer around to tell us what the inspiration was for the song, I’m glad the lyric will be on display at the British Library for generations of Beatles fans to enjoy.”
Jamie Andrews, Head of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, said: “George’s words are all that is left of the song - we can only guess what it would have sounded like so it is an invaluable and hugely interesting piece of Beatles memorabilia. The nation loves The Beatles so it’s great to see George’s lyric reunited with those of his band mates in the British Library next to John Lennon’s ‘Help’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’.”
Although Beatles compositions were credited to ‘Lennon/McCartney’, in reality most of the songs were ninety percent Lennon or ninety percent McCartney, rather than being simple fifty/fifty splits. The handwriting of each lyric on display at the British Library illustrates this, for example, ‘Help’ is one of Lennon’s so it’s in his handwriting. ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Michelle’ are by McCartney so it’s in his handwriting. This makes George’s lyric all the more rare.
Most of the British Library’s Beatles collection is on loan by kind permission of Hunter Davies, who plans to donate it to the Library after his death. The collection features a wide range of memorabilia that ranges from a fan club membership card to the lyrics of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, written by John Lennon on the back of a birthday card to his son Julian.
Also on display are concert tickets, a printed Christmas fanzine letter, a 45rpm single for A Hard Day’s Night, an untitled verse written by John Lennon, the first issue of the Beatles magazine and an early photo of the band.
George’s lyric which has never been seen before, joins other Treasures of the British Library - such as Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s First Folio – in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, which is free and open to the public.
George Harrison is believed to have forged all the signatures of the Beatles to make a dying fan’s wish come true.
The report emerged after an autographed picture of the band was sold at Keys auctioneers in Aylsham, Norfolk on Friday.
It was donated by Harry Bartlett, of Rickinghall, Suffolk, whose daughter Ann received the photograph shortly before her death in the late 1960s at the age of 16.
Andrew Bullock of Keys said it was thought Harrison had copied the signatures of his fellow band members - Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon.
'We've sent it to a handwriting expert and it's just about 100 per cent certain that they were done by George,' he said.
'There are quite a few photographs in existence with autographs that were all signed by George. He got quite good at doing it.
'In this case, where you have got this poor girl who is terminally ill, he was probably aware of the situation and thought he should get it sent off as soon as possible.
'That adds a certain something and is actually quite nice.'
The lot, which also included a signed photograph of Harrison, sold for £1,300 to an anonymous telephone bidder.
Proceeds from the sale will go towards leukaemia research at the University of East Anglia.
Pictures included at the source.