Tom Guerra on The Passing of George Harrison for Vintage Guitar Magazine…

I first became aware of The Beatles and more specifically, George Harrison, when I was about 5 years old. One of my earliest memories was listening to "Sgt. Pepper's" while sitting with my Dad, both of us looking with wonder at the cover layout with its images of the band in their neon suits. In particular, George's sitar and deliberate vocal style of "Within You, Without You" were unlike anything I heard before, and formed a lasting impression on me in my love for strange yet welcoming sounds. Because of my early love of music, my parents bought me a plastic electric guitar that I painted in a psychedelic fashion to mimic George's "Magical Mystery Tour" Stratocaster. It was this early exposure to The Beatles that gave me a love of music that has shaped both my life and my playing.

Growing up in the Seventies, I grew to appreciate George's superb songwriting and arrangements of his many great songs. Sonically, George's taste for incorporating diminished and augmented chords in his songs made them instantly recognizable. Lyrically, his strong spirituality conveyed an uplifting sense of inner peace. Both of these factors gave George's music a depth way beyond the traditional boundaries of pop music. In the days following his death, almost everything I read credited George's introduction of the sitar as his most lasting musical contribution, but I disagree. In my mind, George's simple yet lyrical GUITAR tones (be it 12 string, early Leslie sounds, rockabilly riffs, or slide) were an essential ingredient of many of the best songs ever written. And speaking of slide guitar, George took the idiom in new directions, away from its roots in the blues and towards a melodic, layered, yet integral part of many of his best songs. Listen to "My Sweet Lord," "Crackerbox Palace," "Someplace Else" and his work with the Traveling Wilburys and you'll hear what I mean.

In reflection, it was not George's introduction of the sitar, but his songwriting, unique slide guitar style, quest for inner peace, and membership in The Beatles that will be remembered as his gift to the world.