November 2, 1974: George Harrison First Solo Tour Beginsby Best Classic Bands Staff
It was the very first time an ex-Beatle would be touring America since the band last visited eight years earlier, and anticipation was running high. When the dates during the last two months of ’74 were announced, tickets sold rapidly. George Harrison‘s triumphant Concert for Bangladesh benefit three years earlier had proven he could hold a concert stage on his own, albeit with a little help from his friends.
On November 2, 1974, Harrison and his band performed at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver BC.
It was called the “Dark Horse” tour after his current single and album of the same name that came out midway through the trek on December 2. It was billed almost as if it were a co-headlining tour with Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar player (and father of Norah Jones) who Harrison had signed to his Dark Horse label, which the tour was intended to also promote.
Alas, things did not go as well as planned. Harrison suffered bouts of laryngitis that prompted some wags to refer to the tour as “Dark Hoarse.” It was also a somewhat dark time in his life as his first wife Pattie Boyd, aka “Layla” in rock music iconography, had left George for his best friend Eric Clapton.
Reviewers and fans had issues with the show. Some felt that Shankar’s mid-concert segment of six-seven songs was too long for a rock show. Harrison’s tour band included soft jazz players Tom Scott (saxophone), Robben Ford (guitar) and Emil Richards (percussion), and the sound was inappropriate for Harrison’s music. The spotlights given to keyboard player Billy Preston and Scott during the set irked some listeners.
No doubt expectations for the first Beatle on tour created disappointment that there weren’t more Harrison songs from his time with the group. The tour’s typical setlist included such Beatles song as “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “For You Blue.”
Harrison didn’t tour again until he visited Japan in 1991 with Clapton.
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