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Beatles Rarity of the Week – “Here Comes The Sun” (with lost guitar solo)

Posted by on June 10, 2013 at 6:00 am.

Welcome to The Beatles Rarity of the Week. The idea for this week’s BROW came awhile back when I was checking out Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living In The Material World film for the first time. I’m sure many of you reading have seen it and hopefully enjoyed it as much as I did. The 3-hour film consists of previously unseen footage and interviews with many of those George crossed paths with throughout his life including Olivia and Dhani Harrison, Pattie Boyd, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, George Martin, Eric Clapton, Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormannn, Eric Idle, Phil Spector, Tom Petty, Jim Keltner and Mukunda Goswami among others.

George Harrison, 1969

George Harrison, 1969

While going through the bonus material, I came across a feature that shows Beatles producer George Martin, along with his son Giles and George Harrison’s son Dhani, listening and discussing various parts of the multi-track recording of the Abbey Road classic “Here Comes The Sun.” In the middle of the listening session, they stumble upon an electric guitar track played by George Harrison and not used in the master. The guitar solo in the middle section of the song was apparently a piece that was replaced by the sun-sun-sun, here it comes vocal section in the finalized version. George Martin admits when he hears it that he did not remember the unused section at all. Since there is discussion over what we hear of the track and it is not complete, I made a note to myself to try to round up an intact version of the song that featured this unused piece. Coincidentally, before getting around to it, I was recently contacted by a site reader who asked me about that very thing – a version of “Here Comes The Sun” with this formerly lost solo.

So, after procrastinating on that one – it’s good to finally get it out here. Although, I’m guessing most will agree that the finalized version is best, I think you’ll also agree that – for historical reasons – it’s good to hear this alternative account of the song. I’m delivering the goods right here.

 

The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun

 

Extra info: The recording of “Here Comes The Sun” began on July 7th, 1969 (Ringo Starr’s 29th birthday) and did not include John Lennon who was recovering from a car crash at the time. The song took thirteen takes to complete. George plays acoustic and electric guitars, lead and backing vocals and Moog synthesizer. Paul McCartney adds more backing vocals and plays bass. Ringo Starr plays drums and they all contribute the handclaps. Some overdubs were added in August and the added guitar parts heard here were likely recorded on either August 6th or 11th. The version presented here is also missing a final Moog synthesizer overdub (heard in the last verse on the finalized mix). Final mixing under George Martin occurred on August 19th.

Thanks go out to Lucio for the reminder on this one! Gracias, amigo!


Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music and media related to this post:

1) George Harrison: Living In The Material World [Blu-ray] – 2-DVD/1-Blu Ray 2011/12 film documenting the life of George Harrison. Includes within the bonus material the discovery of the lost guitar solo on “Here Comes The Sun” by George and Giles Martin and Dhani Harrison.

2) Abbey Road (Remastered) – 2009 remastered CD of origiginal 1969 LP featuring finalized version of “Here Comes The Sun.”

3) Rockshow [Blu-ray] – original film extended to account for complete concert set list of Paul McCartney & Wings on their 1976 tour of America. Released on June 10th 2013 (Europe)/June 11th 2013 (N. America). Available in BluRay or DVD for the first time.

4) Any of your favorite Beatles-related music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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11 Comments

  • Elliott Marx says:

    I wonder who ultimately nixed the solo. The ideas in the solo are good, and a couple of more takes would have led to a better performance. What I find most odd, is that the solo is not replaced by another line, instead George just lets the backing tracks play – which I love. This allows the listener to focus on the very cool 11/8 meter during this section.

    Thinking about it, I realize that there are many guitar solos on Abbey Road – perhaps that helped keep this one from appearing. Solo saturation (could be the title to a Joe Satriani release!)

    Ever since I saw the documentary I have been wanting to hear this solo in place, thanks.

  • Lennonista says:

    Watching Dhani’s face as he listens to this “lost” guitar solo is pure Beatle joy!

  • j.g. says:

    Didn’t that solo sound kinda different here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1RxdeqxF-U

  • tref says:

    “The version presented here is also missing a final Moog synthesizer overdub (heard in the last verse on the finalized mix). Final mixing under George Martin occurred on August 19th.”

    Am I wrong or do I hear a bit of the moog synth at 0:14?

  • Derek says:

    Somehow I had never previously known that John wasn’t on this track, all the more amazing when considering George almost did it single-handedly, guitars, vocals, moog.

    One of the great ironies surrounding The Beatles: George had advanced enough in his musicianship and songwriting to be considered just as essential as John and Paul were, and then they were broken up before we could see him reach his full potential. Oh well…

  • Clare Kuehn says:

    This was my favourite song as a child. I cried horribly, because I had so little joy and it made me feel like there was some coming sometime.

  • Happy Nat says:

    This was not a released version, Clare. The only published version appears on Abbey Road and is described above.

  • Gabriel says:

    The sound is so clear… I love George’s voice on this one.

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