George Harrison was often labelled The Quiet Beatle, with his reserved demeanour hiding a probing mind.
The songwriting legend also had a tremendously dry sense of humour, however, as evidenced by his financial support for the Monty Python gang, for example.
A story from an unlikely source is going viral, and we're going to repeat it as it's a grim winter's day, and we've always been fond of George Harrison's work, as a Beatle, Wilbury, or otherwise.
As it turns out, Phil Collins was due to appear on George Harrison's 1970 solo album 'All Things Must Pass', invited as a young and relatively unknown session musician to record a conga part on 'Art Of Dying'.
Speaking to Classic Rock in a 2017 feature - which went online a few days ago - he recalls...
"Our manager got a call from Ringo Starr’s chauffeur, who said they needed a percussionist, and he suggested me. 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 routining 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. And 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."
"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. And just after that they all disappeared – someone said they were watching TV or something – and I was told I could go."
Paid his fee, he was then surprised when the record came out to learn that producer Phil Spector had removed the additional percussion. "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."
Many years later, a now world-famous Phil Collins bought Jackie Stewart's house, an acquaintance of the Beatles icon. "Jackie told me George was remixing 'All Things Must Pass'. And he said: You were on it, weren’t you? And I said: Well I was there. Two days later a tape’s delivered from George Harrison with a note saying: Could this be you?"
"I rush off and listen to it, and straight away I recognise it. Suddenly the congas come in – too loud and just awful. And at the end of the tape you hear George Harrison saying: Hey, Phil, can we try another without the conga player?"
Phil was - unsurprisingly - crestfallen. "So now I know, they didn’t go off to watch TV, they went somewhere and said: Get rid of him - cos I was playing so badly."
"Then Jackie rings and says: I’ve got someone here to speak to you... and puts George on and he says: Did you get the tape? And I said: I now realise I was fired by a Beatle. And he says: Don’t worry, it was a piss-take. I got Ray Cooper to play really badly and we dubbed it on. Thought you’d like it!"
"I said: “You fucking bastard!"
Eventually, though, Phil Collins saw the funny side: "It was lovely, wasn’t it?"
Remarkably, it's not the first time Phil Collins was edited out of the Beatles story - he was a paid extra as a schoolboy in A Hard Day's Night but his scene wasn't used.
Find that Classic Rock interview in full HERE - the story also appears in a different form in Phil Collins' autobiography.
(h/t to @CalvBetton)
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