George Harrison: Trailer for All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary
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The former Genesis star, Phil Collins, was – like many other musicians of the 1980s – a massive fan of The Beatles. So he was absolutely ecstatic in 1969 when he was contacted by George Harrison to lay down some drums for his third solo album.
Harrison released All Things Must Pass in 1970 as a triple album. The record spent weeks at number one in a few countries, including the UK, US, Australia, Canada and Japan.
Just a few months before the record’s release, Collins was asked by Harrison to lay down some conga drums on one of his songs.
Collins recalled being extremely nervous during the recording session. He told Classic Rock: “So I went down to Abbey Road, and Harrison was there and Ringo and Billy Preston and Klaus Voormann and Phil Spector, and we started routing the song.
“No one told me what to play, and every time they started the song, Phil Spector would say ‘Let’s hear guitar and drums,’ or ‘Let’s hear bass and drums.’ I’m not a conga player, so my hands are starting to bleed. And I’m cadging cigarettes off Ringo – I don’t even smoke, I just felt nervous.”
Collins went on: “Anyway, after about two hours of this, Phil Spector says: ‘Okay congas, you play this time.’ And I’d had my mic off, so everybody laughed, but my hands were shot. After that they all disappeared – someone said they were watching TV or something – and I was told I could go.
“A few months later, I buy the album from my local record shop, look at the sleeve notes, and I’m not there. And I’m thinking, ‘There must be some mistake!’ But it’s a different version of the song, and I’m not on it.”
This was just the tip of the iceberg for Collins’ experience with Harrison, however.
Years later the musician caught wind that the former member of the Fab Four was remixing All Things Must Pass. Word got around to Harrison about Collins originally recording some drums for the record and decided to pull out the biggest prank of his life.
The Beatles: Get Back trailer released by Disney
Collins recalled: “Two days later a tape is delivered from George Harrison with a note saying: ‘Could this be you?’ Suddenly the congas come in – too loud and just awful. At the end of the tape you hear George Harrison saying: ‘Hey, Phil, can we try another without the conga player?’”
The drummer realised Harrison didn’t go off to watch TV, but instead started looking for a new musician because he was playing so badly.
Shortly thereafter, Collins was called by Harrison. He asked: “Did you get the tape?”
He responded: “I said: ‘I now realise I was fired by a Beatle!’ He says: ‘Don’t worry, it was a p**s-take. I got Ray Cooper to play really badly, and we dubbed it on. Thought you’d like it!'”
Collins shouted: “You f*****g b*****d!” at the Beatle.
Despite this cruel prank, the In The Air Tonight had fond memories of working with the Beatle. He added: “It was lovely, wasn’t it?”
After this hilarious event, Collins and Harrison never worked together on another piece of music.
Despite this, it seems that the pair remained good friends for decades. But the same cannot be said for Collins and Paul McCartney.
Speaking about Macca in 2002, Collins said: “I met him when I was working at the Buckingham Palace party back in 2002. McCartney came up with Heather Mills and I had a first edition of The Beatles, by Hunter Davies, and I said: ‘Hey, Paul, do you mind signing this for me?’
“And he said: ‘Oh, Heather, our little Phil’s a bit of a Beatles fan.’ And I thought, ‘You f**k, you f**k.’ Never forgot it.
“He has this thing when he’s talking to you, where he makes you feel [like]: ‘I know this must be hard for you because I’m a Beatle. I’m Paul McCartney and it must be very hard for you to actually be holding a conversation with me.'”
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