The Toughest Concert on George Harrison’s 1991 Japanese Tour With Eric Clapton: ‘It Was a Very Cold Concert’

In 1991, George Harrison agreed to a 12-show Japanese tour with his long-time friend, Eric Clapton. Initially, George had trepidation about doing a tour because he didn’t enjoy them too much. Clapton had just come out of a year-long break following the death of his 4-year-old son, Conor.

Eventually, Clapton convinced George to come along for the short tour, and it turned out to be something they both needed. However, there was one especially grueling show.

Eric Clapton and George Harrison performing in 1992.
Eric Clapton and George Harrison | Steve Granitz/Getty Images

How George Harrison and Eric Clapton’s 1991 Japanese tour came to be

In 1992, George told the Chicago Tribune how Clapton got him to sign on to his Japanese tour.

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 had another reason for joining Clapton on tour. It helped him quit smoking. The tour also benefited Clapton. His four-year-old son Conor had recently died after falling out of a window. He’d taken a year off but needed something new to take his mind off the tragedy.

So, George and Clapton set out on their Japanese tour.

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The worst concert of Clapton and George’s Japanese tour

George said the tour had a rough start. The first unofficial concert on the final day of rehearsals was for VIPs. It was the worst.

“It was a very cold concert,” George said. “They were clapping, but it was more difficult than we thought. That warmed us up, though. The first real show I had some nerves, but it was just the right balance of nerves and adrenaline, and it proved to be one of the best performances.”

Thankfully the rest of the tour ran smoothly.

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The tour was just long enough for the former Beatle to enjoy it

George said he had one regret about not touring more. He said it was fun playing with a band. George briefly got that back on his Japanese tour. Everything else about touring, George could’ve left out.

“After three or four nights of doing the concerts, my ego was satisfied,” George said. “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 Clapton and George. The former Beatle got out of his rut and found out his stamina was still in good shape. The 12-concert tour was just long enough for George to truly enjoy it. Clapton kept occupied. It was a win-win, especially for fans in Japan.

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