George Harrison Said Rod Stewart Had a Brain That Was as ‘Small as a Marble’

George Harrison wasn’t afraid to reveal which of his contemporaries he disliked, but he was ruthless in his assessment of Rod Stewart. The former Beatle said Stewart had a brain that was as “small as a marble.”

He wasn’t the only Beatle with opinions about the “Maggie May” singer.

George Harrison in a jacket in 1975 and Rod Stewart in white in 1977.
George Harrison and Rod Stewart | ullstein bild Dtl./Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images

George Harrison said Rod Stewart had a brain that was as ‘small as a marble’

During a 1976 interview with India Today, George spoke about the contemporary artists he liked at the time. He said pop music fell flat.

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

George’s list of artists he disliked in 1976 was longer than his list of artists he liked. Elton John didn’t impress him and Stewart had no brains either.

“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!

“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.”

No pop music impressed George, so Stewart shouldn’t take it personally.

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George didn’t just dislike Stewart

While the former Beatle’s words might seem harsh, George didn’t just dislike Stewart. He had a hard time with all pop music artists. Some fans might not categorize Stewart as pop, but George certainly would’ve. George enjoyed old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll from Carl Perkins, his buddies Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and more.

The bottom line is that pop music made George feel “uptight.”

In 1975, George told David Herman of WNEW-FM (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters) that very few people impressed him musically. The only person who wowed him was the sitar legend Ravi Shankar, his musical and spiritual guru.

“In music, well, it breaks down into … I mean there’s people who have a sort of a more worldly consciousness, and that’s why I’ve always been with Ravi Shankar because he’s bringing, particularly in the west, something obscure and creating an audience,” George said.

However, popular music had the opposite effect on George.

“It’s a whole other train of thought that comes from the music,” George continued. “In simpler terms, there’s people, I like people who just convey in their music some sort of sincerity. I’m a big fan of Smokey Robinson just because musically he is so sweet, he makes you feel nice, he makes me feel good, whereas a lot of music I listen to, which is popular music, just makes me uptight.

“Even if I’m not really listening too close to it, it’s just the sound of it and the whole thing, and the repetition, the boring sort of repetition of how it’s played…”

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John Lennon didn’t like Stewart either

George wasn’t the only Beatle who had an opinion about Stewart. In his 1980 interview with Playboy’s David Sheff, John Lennon claimed Stewart copied his Beatle song “Don’t Let Me Down.”

“By the way,” John said, “Rod Stewart turned that into ‘[Georgie] don’t go-o-o.’ That’s one the publishers never noticed… Why didn’t he just sing ‘Don’t Let Me Down’? The same reason I don’t sing other people’s stuff: because you don’t get paid.”

There were many artists that George didn’t like, but the former Beatle was entitled to his opinion. It’s a wonder what Stewart thinks of George.

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