George Harrison Never Thought Much of Elton John’s Music: ‘His Music Is Made to a Formula’

George Harrison and Elton John were good friends and collaborators. However, the former Beatle once revealed that he didn’t think much of the “Rocket Man” singer’s work. George thought most of Elton John’s songs followed the same formula and lacked creativity. However, they later worked together.

George Harrison and Elton John performing together at the Prince's Trust Concert in 1987.
George Harrison and Elton John | FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

George Harrison didn’t think highly of Elton John’s music

In a 1976 interview with India Today, George touched on the day’s music. For him, no other form of music could hold a candle to Indian music.

“Personally, I think Indian music is where it’s at,” George said, “If I had to choose one record in the whole world, I’d select Bismillah Khan, and that’s it.”

India Today asked, “Where does that leave pop?” George’s reply had no hope for current pop music. “Well, I don’t really know,” he said. “There isn’t too much going on that I seem to like. When the Beatles started off, our influences were Tamla-Motown and Chuck Berry, and that’s the music I still like.

“My favourites are Smokey Robinson (I’ve written two songs about him) and Stevie Wonder. Otherwise, George Benson and, of course, anything Dylan does is worth a listen.”

India Today asked, “Is that it? Is that the only music you like?” The “Something” singer didn’t speak highly of his fellow musician, Elton John, or many others.

“Well, Elton John’s music is something I’ve never thought much of,” George said. “It all sounds the same, though I think he’s written a good song once (many years ago, of course). His music is made to a formula: throw in lyrics, throw in four chords, shake well, and there it is, the new Elton John super-hit!”

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George and Elton John later worked together on the former Beatle’s ‘Cloud Nine’

George must have overlooked Elton John and his musical talents because he collaborated with him several times in the 1980s.

They performed together at the Prince’s Trust Concert in 1987, and George asked Elton John to appear on his 1987 album, Cloud Nine. The “Your Song” singer contributed electric piano on “Cloud 9”, piano on “Devil’s Radio,” and “Wreck of the Hesperus.”

In a special edition of Rolling Stone called “Remembering George,” Elton John wrote that he had fond memories of playing on Cloud Nine. “George was always very, very kind to me,” Elton John wrote.

“I still remember staying up until eight o’clock in the morning recording and then asking him to play “Here Comes The Sun.” And he did, and it was magical… I feel very privileged to have known him, to have played on his records.”

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The ‘Bennie And The Jets’ singer knew George’s opinions about current music

George’s opinions about Elton John might have changed over the years. However, the singer understood the former Beatle’s musical interests.

In “Remembering George,” Elton John said, “there was a little bit of curmudgeonly commentary about bands-saying he hated Oasis and U2, bands today aren’t as good. And they probably aren’t.

“But, again, he was very forthright. There was no holding back. You know, at a time when Oasis were kissing the Beatles’ feet, George Harrison said, ‘Well, they’re rubbish.'”

Elton John is right about George’s distaste for newer music. He had particular tastes and surrounded himself with people he thought were good. Eventually, that included Elton John.

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