Ex Beatles Lennon and Harrison Stopped Friends Dissing McCartney
American drummer Jim Keltner recalled the differences between working with former Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.
The session icon, who also recorded with Ringo Starr, said Lennon and Harrison would make “brutal” comments about former bandmate Paul McCartney in the early ‘70s but wouldn’t let their friends join in.
“It was a really busy time,” Keltner told Uncut in a recent interview. “I was on sessions with [Harrison], with Leon Russell, Phil Spector was producing, and Gary Wright. It did feel at that time, post-Beatles, that George was gathering this community of new artists and like-minded, soulful musicians around him.”
He noted that Harrison “was the most unusual person. John was just very, very normal. He was a regular kind of guy: funny, incredibly smart and incredibly fast with everything. Nothing took a long time. When we got to hanging out, it was fantastic, but it was like living in a cloud. There’s so much John stuff that I just can’t remember because we were so loaded, and everything was so condensed, time-wise. George was just the opposite. With George, it was always kind of mystifying how he would come up with stuff to do, and how easily he made it happen.”
Turning to the recording of Harrison’s 1973 album Living in the Material World, Keltner said, “I still remember the feel, the way we were set up. Everything about it. We would have been [recording] at Apple and at Friar Park. He had all the best analogue gear that you could have, laid out really nicely. It was state of the art for the time. I told him to call it H.O.T.: Henley-on-Thames. He liked that: H.O.T. Studios! There’s a sound on Living In the Material World that George could have pursued and developed, and it didn’t quite happen.”
Keltner admitted that when he talks about Harrison, “Sometimes I feel like I’m making him sound too much like he was a saint. By no means was the man a saint! Over the years with him and John, they could both be really brutal with Paul. I learned very early on that I couldn’t join them. They both on different occasions said, ‘We can say that, but you shouldn’t.’ They were truly brothers who loved taking the piss out of each other, but they didn’t want anybody else doing it.”