Skip to main content

George Harrison was critical of his fellow musicians and artists, including David Bowie. The former Beatle said the “Ziggy Stardust” singer should’ve figured out which gender he was before deciding what kind of music he wanted to make.

George Harrison posing in Cannes, France in 1976.
George Harrison | Michael Putland/Getty Images

George Harrison said David Bowie ‘ought to make up his mind what sex he is, then decide what kind of music to make’

In 1976, George spoke with India Today about current music. He did not hold any of his opinions back.

“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 replied, “Well, I don’t really know. 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?” George’s reply was painfully honest, especially when it came to Bowie.

“Well, Elton John’s music is something I’ve never thought much of,” he 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!

“Rod Stewart’s music has improved since Tom Dowd’s producing him, but the guy himself, he’s got a brain that’s as small as a marble. And David Bowie ought to make up his mind what sex he is, and then decide what kind of music he wants to play. Eric Clapton’s O.K. though.”

The ‘China Girl’ singer didn’t understand the former Beatle’s spirituality

George didn’t understand Bowie at all. However, the “Let’s Dance” singer didn’t quite understand the former Beatle either. During a 2003 interview with Vice, Bowie said he didn’t understand George’s spiritual beliefs.

“For him, there is a belief in some kind of system,” Bowie said. “But I really find that hard. Not on a day to day basis, because there are habits of life that have convinced me there is something solid to believe in.”

Bowie might not have been able to be as spiritual as George, but he connected with his fellow musician in his song, “Try Some, Buy Some.” On Reality, Bowie covered the song because it was important to him.


George Harrison Said The Beatles’ Performance at Shea Stadium Was ‘Impersonal’: ‘We Really Didn’t Care Anymore’

Eric Idle couldn’t get George to like Bowie

Bowie liked George’s song, but George didn’t want anything about Bowie. George and Bowie had a mutual friend in Monty Python comedian Eric Idle. He once tried to get George and Bowie to be friends too. However, George wanted nothing to do with the ‘Life On Mars?” singer.

In his memoir, Idle explained (per Rolling Stone) that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get George to be friends with Bowie. Idle was like a sponge around George. He listened to everything he said, including his spiritual wisdom. However, George didn’t care about Bowie.

“I would say to George [Harrison], ‘[Bowie is] wonderful and brilliant and funny,’ but then George would become very much a Beatle, ‘Oh, Bowie,’ he would say contemptuously to rhyme with ‘Bowwow,'” Idle wrote.

A collaboration between George and Bowie would have been interesting. However, they lived on different planets that sometimes crossed.