George Harrison shocked Peter Frampton the first time they met. That’s not uncharacteristic of the “quiet Beatle.” George had a profound effect on many people. Often, he’d utter a witty response while meeting someone new or suggest they do something together that the other person hardly expected.
For instance, the first time he met Eric Idle, he invited him to smoke pot in a projection room at a Monty Python and the Holy Grail screening. Similarly, George smoked pot with Martin Short while watching The Hunt for Red October at a dinner party the first time they met.
Either way, celebrity or not, people never knew what they would get when meeting George. However, Frampton has the most fortunate introduction to George.
George Harrison had a code name according to Peter Frampton
Frampton said, “The first time that I met him, his best friend and assistant Terry Doran, he-we were in Wardour Street in London, and that’s the studio it’s just around the corner, Trident, and we were in the pub, and he said, ‘Do you want to come meet George?’ I said, ‘George who?’
“He had some code name for him as well so they could talk about him in public. It was Harry, I think, Harrison, I think it was Harry, something like that. But, ‘Do you want to come meet Harry?'”
Frampton had no idea what was about to happen as he stepped foot into the studio where George was working.
George shocked Frampton during their first meeting
When Frampton entered the studio, he found himself surrounded by several famous musicians. George was as nonchalant as ever, though.
“So I walk in the studio, and there’s George standing behind the console, and he looked at me, and he goes, [imitates a Liverpudlian accent] ‘Hello Pete.’ I kinda looked behind myself. Is there another Pete here?” Frampton continued.
Frampton said George had known him from his days in Humble Pie, but it was still a shock that a Beatle knew him. Stern asked if George had requested Frampton to come to the studio because he was putting together musicians for his album (All Things Must Pass).
“Well, we didn’t know we were going to meet that day,” Frampton replied. “He just said, ‘Look, I’m producing my first album for the Apple label.’ The Beatles album label. So, I walk down, and it’s the who’s who of players. Ringo and Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins, all these top top guys. Chris Spedding, probably.
“I was nervous as hell, and then George just hands me his Les Paul. The famous one. Not that he’s not famous [Laughs]. But there’s a storied past to it. So, then I start playing rhythm because he is The Beatles’ lead guitar player. He says, ‘No, no, I’m playing rhythm. I want you to play lead.’
“So I swallowed hard, and I ended up playing the main guitar riffs on this first single.”
The ex-Beatle never credited Frampton on ‘All Things Must Pass’
Stern asked if Frampton was shocked that George wanted him to play lead. “Was he looking for something different, a different sound?”
Frampton replied, “I know that he was a fan of my playing, and he just, you know, that day…” Stern interjected, “Wanted to see what you’d do with it.” Frampton replied, “Absolutely, and I sort of became-he said, ‘Well, if Eric can’t make it, I’ll call Pete.’ Which was very nice, but I know where I stand [Laughs].
Frampton wasn’t insulted, being second to Eric Clapton. However, George never credited Frampton on All Things Must Pass. Although George forgot Ringo Starr played on most of the album too.
Frampton told Guitar World, “My contribution was acoustic guitar. I was involved in five of the basic tracks with Badfinger, all playing acoustic guitars, including George and myself. So there were about three of them. Well, there were at least five of us. You’re talking about Phil Spector, so ‘More is more’ [Laughs].
“There were at least five of us on acoustic guitars, and then Pete Drake, the steel player, came over half-way through during those five tracks, and we did some of the more country ones, like ‘If Not for You,’ which Bob Dylan had written.
“After I’d done those, which I believe were the last tracks George did on the album, he called me up after a few weeks and said, ‘Phil wants more acoustic guitars on the tracks.’ I remember laughing at the time. This time it was just me and George at Abbey Road, the same studio where the Beatles had done Sgt. Pepper.
“It’s pretty heady stuff, even to this day. I was looking through the glass, and there was Phil Spector. We were literally sitting in front of the glass, the two of us on stools, and I don’t know how many tracks I played on because they just kept adding acoustic guitars to anything with acoustics on it.
“The most enjoyable part of that whole thing was in between, when they would change reels, because it was analog, obviously, George and I would start jamming. We were playing whatever; you name it, we were jamming on it. That was the highlight for me, to jam with George and just have fun.”
That was the epitome of All Things Must Pass. It was all just one big jam session. George invited a plethora of musicians he admired, and this was the first time he was able to record with them. So, Frampton does have the best “I met George Harrison story.”