George Harrison Was Thankful to Eric Clapton for Giving Him the Push He Needed to Get Back on the Road

In 1991, George Harrison, his long-time friend, Eric Clapton, and Clapton’s band embarked on a 12-show tour of Japan. Although, it took some convincing on Clapton’s part to get George to do it. George never liked touring, especially when he was a Beatle and even more after his disastrous 1974 solo tour of America.

The “Taxman” singer reluctantly agreed to the Japanese tour only because he needed to get out of a rut. Plus, touring with Clapton’s band was easier than finding and forming a band. When it finished, George was thankful to Clapton for giving him the push he needed to get back on the road.

George Harrison performing at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992.
George Harrison | Mathieu Polak/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Why George Harrison agreed to a 12-show Japanese tour with Eric Clapton

George liked playing with a band. However, every time he thought of going back on the road, he realized how exhausting it was to form a band, rehearse, and constantly travel. That’s why going on tour with Clapton and his band was so inviting.

However, Clapton still had some convincing to do. In 1992, George told the Chicago Tribune that his long-time friend admitted that many people had been asking about him. This embarrassed George. He’d been in a rut.

George said, “He’d been everywhere-Latin America, Australia, the Far East-a year or two ago, and he’d say to me that people would always ask him: ‘Where’s George? What’s going on? Why isn’t he doing anything?’

“Then in London during the making of Clapton’s ’24 Nights’ album at the Royal Albert Hall, I saw him quite a bit and he said, ‘Look, we’re not doing anything after this, and if you’d like, you could use my band and I’d come with you, and it’d be simple for you.'”

George reluctantly accepted his friend’s offer, and it all paid off.

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George was thankful to Clapton for giving him the push he needed

During a 1992 interview with Scott Muni at WNEW-FM (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), George explained that he agreed to the tour because if he didn’t, Clapton would’ve become busy, and the opportunity would’ve disappeared.

He and Clapton’s Japanese tour was better than either of them expected. “Well it was much easier, I can tell you,” George said.

George told Rockline that playing for the Japanese was easier than playing for anyone else, including the “hostile” Americans. The tour was perfect for George in every aspect. He was thankful to Clapton for pushing him to do it. He’d constantly wrestled with the idea over the years.

“Well I think, you see, had Eric’s band been available after this new year, the beginning of the new year, I probably would have just continued straight on with that situation, but it was always put to me as a situation that was just for, like, November-December, when Eric was free,” he said.

“After that he said—[audio skips around briefly]—been on the tour this year, then it would have been perfect for me just to continue. But having had this break, I’m now lapsing back into the old kind of, you know, forgetting what it’s like to be on the road.

“I don’t particularly … you know, I’m not brilliant at taking care of my career. I’m not very career-minded, you know? And touring is something which I can take it or leave it, and I think I need that push. If I was in a band it would be easier, but I need the push, and that’s why I thanked Eric for actually getting me this far.”

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The former Beatle enjoyed the tour

George loved his tour with Clapton and his band. His older songs felt new and he finally got to play some of his newer tunes too.

“After three or four nights of doing the concerts, my ego was satisfied,” George told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m the kind of person who would love to play whenever I felt like, with a band, and it might as well be the Holiday Inn in Nebraska. Somewhere where no one knows you and you’re in a band situation just playing music.”

The tour proved to be beneficial to both George and Clapton. The former Beatle got out of his rut and discovered his stamina was still in good shape. Clapton kept occupied following the death of his son, Conor. It might have been George’s last tour, but at least it was a virtually perfect final one.

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