Remember When: George Harrison Delivered a Stunning Comeback with 'Cloud Nine'

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

George Harrison thrived whenever folks underestimated him the most. When The Beatles broke up, the “Quiet Beatle” outperformed his more-renowned bandmates with his first solo album All Things Must Pass. And when people wrote off his solo career in the ’80s, he delivered the smash Cloud Nine, which put him back on top of the pop charts against all odds.

Cloud Nine proved a confident, exciting artistic statement, one that combined classic rock and roll songcraft with sharp production. But it might not have occurred in quite the same manner if Harrison hadn’t hooked up with a simpatico producer who happened to know a thing or two about writing pop hits.

When news sprang in 1987 that Harrison was making a new solo album, the rock and roll world wasn’t exactly shaken to the core. Yes, he was an ex-Beatle, so that would always carry weight. But he had shown little interest in going all-in with his solo career since the early ’70s. Harrison hadn’t toured in a decade, and he did less than the minimum in promoting Gone Troppo, his listless 1982 album that came and went without making much impact.

Now here he was five years later, trying to compete in a vastly changed music scene. But he had a secret weapon. After appearing at a benefit with him, Harrison sent word to Jeff Lynne to ask if Lynne might consider producing the ex-Beatle. Lynne was considering walking away from music after shuttering Electric Light Orchestra, the hitmaking group he had fronted to massive success. But the chance to work with one of his idols was too tempting to pass up.

Lynne worked pretty much side-by-side with the artist at Harrison’s home studio in his Friar’s Park estate in England. Harrison brought songs he had written for the project, but the two also wrote a few together, most notably “When We Was Fab.” The two built up most of the songs together, with drummer Jim Keltner often providing the foundation.

Source: Jim Beviglia/


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