Eric Clapton’s Isolated Guitar Track From the Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ (1968)

George Har­ri­son of the Bea­t­les was an accom­plished gui­tar play­er with a dis­tinc­tive solo­ing style. So you might think that with a song as per­son­al and gui­tar-cen­tric as “While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps,” he would do his own play­ing. In fact, the song fea­tures gui­tar play­ing by Eric Clap­ton.

It was record­ed on Sep­tem­ber 6, 1968, dur­ing the acri­mo­nious White Album ses­sions. Har­ri­son had been strug­gling off and on for over a month to get the song right. He first tried it with his own play­ing on a Gib­son J‑200 gui­tar along with an over­dubbed har­mo­ni­um. He lat­er exper­i­ment­ed by run­ning the gui­tar solo back­wards. Noth­ing seemed to work.

So final­ly Har­ri­son asked his friend Clap­ton for a lit­tle help. When Har­ri­son walked into Abbey Road Stu­dios with Clap­ton, the oth­er Bea­t­les start­ed tak­ing the song seri­ous­ly. In a 1987 inter­view with Gui­tar Play­er mag­a­zine, Har­ri­son was asked whether it had bruised his ego to ask Clap­ton to play on the song.

No, my ego would rather have Eric play on it. I’ll tell you, I worked on that song with John, Paul, and Ringo one day, and they were not inter­est­ed in it at all. And I knew inside of me that it was a nice song. The next day I was with Eric, and I was going into the ses­sion, and I said, “We’re going to do this song. Come on and play on it.” He said, “Oh, no. I can’t do that. Nobody ever plays on the Bea­t­les records.” I said, “Look, it’s my song, and I want you to play on it.” So Eric came in, and the oth­er guys were as good as gold–because he was there. Also, it left me free to just play the rhythm and do the vocal. So Eric played that, and I thought it was real­ly good. Then we lis­tened to it back, and he said, “Ah, there’s a prob­lem, though; it’s not Beat­ley enough”–so we put it through the ADT [auto­mat­ic dou­ble-track­er], to wob­ble it a bit.

For the impres­sion of a per­son weep­ing and wail­ing, Clap­ton used the fin­gers on his fret­ting hand to bend the strings deeply, in a high­ly expres­sive descend­ing vibra­to. He was play­ing a 1957 Gib­son Les Paul, a gui­tar he had once owned but had giv­en to Har­ri­son, who nick­named it “Lucy.” You can hear Clap­ton’s iso­lat­ed play­ing above. And for a reminder of how it all came togeth­er, you can lis­ten to the offi­cial ver­sion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Bea­t­les: Unplugged Col­lects Acoustic Demos of White Album Songs (1968)

A Young Eric Clap­ton Demon­strates the Ele­ments of His Gui­tar Sound

Hear the 1962 Bea­t­les Demo that Dec­ca Reject­ed: “Gui­tar Groups are on Their Way Out, Mr. Epstein”

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Comments (59)
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  • Steve Boyce says:

    Thank you Open Cul­ture, for all the great hid­den, for­got­ten, and his­toric media you find and share with us.

  • joy bhattacharjya says:

    Bril­liant. Such a plea­sure to find these hid­den gems.

  • jackie nimmerrichter says:

    Thanks so much for shar­ing this. It was amaz­ing!!

  • Geno says:

    This is absolute­ly stun­ning. I love stuff like this.

  • Cheebo says:

    So the iso­lat­ed track we’re lis­ten­ing to — has it been run through the ADT already or is it dry?

  • Shannon Morrow says:

    I nev­er knew that Clap­ton played on this cut, but it makes sense. George and Eric were close friends, so it’s nat­ur­al that he would be asked to help out. I have always known that George had been under-uti­lized and his music not regard­ed as “Bea­t­le” mate­r­i­al, and this sto­ry just shows that one of their most revered songs almost did­n’t get record­ed. Jealousy…yes, I think so.

  • rick says:

    You can hear the ADT at dif­fer­ent lev­els through­out- although I would have guessed it was Clap­ton using a Leslie rotat­ing speak­er ( lis­ten to the solo on Cream’s ‘Badge’).

  • melodieman says:

    try play­ing them togeth­er at the same time with just a half step dif­fer­ent for some trip­py delay. kin­da cool if you are as bored as i am.

  • Peter Reynders says:

    The whole sto­ry behind the sound engi­neer­ing of this song can be found at

  • nyobx says:

    nev­er got to hear the unplugged white album stuff and can no longer access the link
    any­one know of a way to access it???

  • Lori Seubert says:

    Fas­ci­nat­ing! Tru­ly a gem.

  • Mario says:

    Play­ing through a Ham­mond Leslie was a sig­na­ture sound of Har­rison’s. That was him play­ing on Badge…

  • John Starrett says:

    Slop­pi­er than I expect­ed.

  • Frank L Miller says:

    All these years I knew that Eric Clap­ton played on it, but thought it was just back­ground and the end. Until I heard this piece, Clap­ton alone, did I ful­ly appre­ci­ate that he was the lead all the way through. How telling, not only about George whose ego was sec­ond to the music and his friend­ship with Eric, but the rest of the boys who were will­ing to write off George’s song until Eric (who was called “God” in those days) showed them what the song was all about. Beau­ti­ful! Saw Eric Clap­ton March 29th in Flori­da and was amazed how he can still play that axe like it was 1968!

  • Jane says:

    I saw the link on a local gui­tar teacher’s page.

  • sandra mccallister says:

    thanks for such a treat. I’ve always loved his music to me he is the best there is. he seems to keep get­ting bet­ter when you lis­ten to his new tracks. thanks again col­in

  • Rama says:

    enjoyed that :)
    I fol­lowed a link from Gui­tarist Ire­land on face­book. Maybe that’s the link you’re look­ing for?

  • Joe says:

    Clap­ton had a severe hero­in habit dur­ing this peri­od in time as well. Some­thing to think about.

    • John Gordon says:

      I get what you are say­ing, but take it from one who knows — hero­in does­n’t inspire racism — whether in the throes of a high, or com­ing off of it in the worst way.

  • Baron von Tollbooth says:

    Clap­ton’s hero­in habit last­ed from late 1969 to late 1973, per his auto­bi­og­ra­phy.

  • Anne says:

    I saw the link on FB via a Con­necti­cut gui­tar teacher who is also an author. Did you need more specifics?

  • Stan says:

    My friend Charles Ven­turel­la had it post­ed on his Face­book page today, that’s how I found this. He’s a major Bea­t­le fan.

  • mary macgowan says:

    loved this, what a plea­sure!

  • Gordon says:

    In EC’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy he tells his ver­sion of this sto­ry, and he stat­ed that after he left the stu­dio he thinks the Bea­t­les record­ed the song anoth­er time with George play­ing the solo. If I recall this chap­ter of the book cor­rect­ly, EC wrote that even he was­n’t sure if it was his play­ing or George’s that made the final ver­sion on the album.

  • Normand Chiasson says:

    Thank you so much for all of this. I am a (very old) Bea­t­le Fan and I sure­ly appre­ci­ate hav­inf th eop­por­tu­ni­ty to lis­ten to such a gift­ed artist in an incred­i­ble ren­di­tion. What a treat. Thanks again!

  • Joshua Smith says:

    I remem­ber the first time I heard the song. I was­n’t a big fan of Har­ri­son, and I thought, “wow, George Har­ri­son is damn good after all!” It was about a year lat­er that I learned the truth. :Pnn­My opin­ion of Har­ri­son has inci­den­tal­ly improved a lit­tle since then, but I still con­sid­er him to be musi­cal­ly the least inter­est­ing Bea­t­le. (I like Ringo a lot — check out “I’ve Got a Feel­ing”, “Rain”, or “Come Togeth­er” if you don’t think he’s awe­some.)

    • Captain Awesome says:

      “My opin­ion of Har­ri­son has inci­den­tal­ly improved a lit­tle since then, but I still con­sid­er him to be musi­cal­ly the least inter­est­ing Bea­t­le. I like Ringo a lot — check out “I’ve Got a Feel­ing”, “Rain”, or “Come Togeth­er” if you don’t think he’s awesome.“nnnnLOL! I love a good com­e­dy writer. You had me chuck­ling at “least inter­est­ing Bea­t­le” but the call­ing of Ringo “awe­some” had me rolling on the floor. You, you sir, are the next Mark Twain! That is some bril­liant­ly fun­ny satire!

      • DavidS says:

        They’re both awe­some. Those who don’t think Ringo is a great drum­mer, don’t know drum­ming.

      • CityHoller says:

        They were all good musi­cians. Check out Paul’s bass play­ing on lat­er records. Ringo was very good, he was invit­ed to join the Bea­t­les because he was the best drum­mer they knew of, and total­ly sol­id. And I was just lis­ten­ing to the gui­tar solo on Hard Days Night, and it is absolute­ly fine. Lat­er musi­cians took their musi­cian­ship fur­ther, but they did it stand­ing on the Bea­t­les’ shoul­ders.

  • herschel Stratego says:


  • Karl Hungus says:

    I read an inter­est­ing arti­cle yes­ter­day about George Har­rison’s sis­ter, who lives Mis­souri and who appar­ent­ly was left noth­ing in her broth­er’s will.

  • Jim Salman says:

    Eric Clap­ton had beau­ti­ful, expres­sive, per­fect vibra­to. Very few elec­tric blues/rock gui­tarists in the world in 1968 had his lev­el of artristry.

  • Christian Down says:

    Eric Clap­ton is a racist piece of human garbage.

    • Joe from Buffalo says:

      You are a brain­less a–hole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Christian Down says:

        Oh real­ly? Choke on this: nn 2007, Clap­ton gave an inter­view in which he insist­ed that Pow­ell was “out­ra­geous­ly brave” and “mis­un­der­stood,” and that his own views on the mat­ter haven’t changed.nnnBefore you go name call­ing, do a lit­tle home­work.

        • nosocialism says:

          Yeah, and it’s clear­ly indi­cat­ed as a drunk­en rant — yet you chose this as your best evi­dence that he is a racist? Since I don’t know you, I can’t say whether or not you are actu­al­ly an a‑hole, but you are def­i­nite­ly brain­less.

          • Christian Down says:

            So when you get drunk, you go on racist tirades? Ridicu­lous. Rock Against Racism was found­ed DIRECTLY as a result of this inci­dent. He has nev­er apol­o­gized. Just because you don’t want some­thing to be true does­n’t mean it isn’t true. nn‑3/pedagogy-of-pop-latest-post/rock-against-racism/

    • Jesu00fas says:

      maybe, but he is an amaz­ing and great gui­tar play­er, lucky for us he is not politi­cian.

    • martiniolives2 says:

      You may want to look at the page below. As not­ed, Eric hand-picks the artists he wants to play at this char­i­ta­ble Cross­roads con­certs. Take a look at the racial diver­si­ty of the artists. For a “racist piece of human garbage” who has raised and con­tributed mil­lions of dol­lars to peo­ple strug­gling with drug addi­tion, he’s doing a very poor job of show­ing it. Troll on.nn

      • Christian Down says:

        So that excus­es him? He has nev­er apol­o­gized. As not­ed below, Rock Against Racism was found­ed DIRECTLY in response to his out­burst and sub­se­quent reit­er­a­tions. nnSo he threw a con­cert to help some junkies; what does that have to do with any­thing? nnNo­body has yet to pro­duce a sin­gle piece of cred­i­ble evi­dence in which Clap­ton apol­o­gizes. Fact.

  • Christian Down says:

    I pre­vi­ous­ly post­ed a com­ment about Eric Clap­ton being a racist. I post­ed four or five links to back up my state­ment. I point­ed out that Rock Against Racism was found­ed as a direct response to his pol­i­tics. nnnI was met with a cho­rus of name call­ing, but nobody could actu­al­ly refute what I was say­ing with any facts. One per­son even excused his racist tirade by point­ing out that Clap­ton was intox­i­cat­ed, as though this is normal.nnnI’m so dis­ap­point­ed that in this, a day and age that you can learn almost any­thing in a few clicks, peo­ple would rather bury their heads in the sand than take the time to do a lit­tle home­work before they start hurl­ing insults.nnnIt sad­dens me that peo­ple would defend a man who believes as he does. Shame. nnnI removed my pre­vi­ous com­ments; I leave this forum dis­gust­ed.

    • Clapton Fan says:

      You clear­ly have an issue with Clap­ton. The so called racist com­ments and your “facts” relate to a sin­gle “alleged” inci­dent in the 70’s and a biased arti­cle writ­ten by RAR. The orga­ni­za­tion was found­ed as a direct result of this? Real­ly? Are you the founder? I doubt very much that many of the Blues artists, most of which expe­ri­enced true racism back in the day, would play or sup­port Clap­ton if he was a racist. This was a sto­ry about Har­ri­son and Clap­ton — and a beau­ti­ful song. Glad you left this forum because you dis­gust me and just about every­one else who read this piece. Good rid­dance…

      • Christian Down says:

        Sigh. Again, just a sim­ple google search:nn and igno­rance walk hand in hand. I’m sim­ply ask­ing you to do a lit­tle research, instead of excus­ing his actions. He is unre­pen­tant. He STILL feels that Enoch Pow­ell is “mis­un­der­stood” and has nev­er apol­o­gized for his state­ments. nnIt was­n’t a slip of the tongue. Here is his whole dis­gust­ing rant in it’s entire­ty, so no one has to do any homework.nn“Do we have any for­eign­ers in the audi­ence tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, Iu2019m look­ing at you. Where are you? Iu2019m sor­ry but some fuck­ing wogu2026Arab grabbed my wifeu2019s bum, you know? Sure­ly got to be said, yeah this is what all the fuck­ing for­eign­ers and wogs over here are like, just dis­gust­ing, thatu2019s just the truth, yeah. So where are you? Well wher­ev­er you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our coun­try. You fuck­ing (inde­ci­pher­able). I donu2019t want you here, in the room or in my coun­try. Lis­ten to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Pow­ell. Enochu2019s our man. I think Enochu2019s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becom­ing a black colony. Get the for­eign­ers out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now Iu2019m into racism. Itu2019s much heav­ier, man. Fuck­ing wogs, man. Fuck­ing Saud­is tak­ing over Lon­don. Bas­tard wogs. Britain is becom­ing over­crowd­ed and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fuck­ing Jamaicans and fuck­ing (inde­ci­pher­able) donu2019t belong here, we donu2019t want them here. This is Eng­land, this is a white coun­try, we donu2019t want any black wogs and coons liv­ing here. We need to make clear to them they are not wel­come. Eng­land is for white peo­ple, man. We are a white coun­try. I donu2019t want fuck­ing wogs liv­ing next to me with their stan­dards. This is Great Britain, a white coun­try, what is hap­pen­ing to us, for fucku2019s sake? We need to vote for Enoch Pow­ell, heu2019s a great man, speak­ing truth. Vote for Enoch, heu2019s our man, heu2019s on our side, heu2019ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, sup­port him, heu2019s on our side. Enoch for Prime Min­is­ter! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!“nn-Eric Clap­ton

  • Tony Valenti says:

    I was lucky enough to see Jim­my Hen­drix per­form a few months before he died, at the Asto­ria The­atre, North Lon­don. A roar went up, when Eric Clap­ton jumped up on stage, and start­ed an impromp­tu jam with the “Expe­ri­ence”, mid­way thru the show. Hugs and kiss­es all round, love and peace. If Eric Clap­ton was/is a rabid racist, then he has cer­tain­ly fooled me all these years.

  • Klaus Knuth says:

    I believe what Eric used as a gui­tar effect was a flanger. It sounds dif­fer­ent than a Leslie speak­er like the one he used on “Badge”.

  • graham says:

    preach that hate broth­er , let that hate flow broth­er , Remem­ber only a white man is racist not a black who open­ly hates whites and calls them crack­er or honky,. umm any rap artist who ever lived any­body?, and remem­ber peo­ple cant hate jews , but jews can hate gen­tiles and get away with it like a joke on sein­feld, we are all racist what­ev­er ur stu­pid skin colour is accept it or don’t its real­ly up to the hard head­ed indi­vid­ual who thinks hes per­fect

  • mikey the schwartz says:

    his­to­ry in record­ing-PRICE­LESS

  • Brad Nailer says:

    It took me a long time to final­ly admit to myself that it’s Clap­ton play­ing that solo and not Harrison–and still, it’s only because George and Eric are telling me that. The style is George’s and not Eric’s. If the boys had not them­selves said who was doing what to whom, I still would­n’t believe it.

  • wpw says:

    RAR/ANL was an SWP front organ­i­sa­tion, designed to indoc­tri­nate young peo­ple in the won­der­ful ways of the Trot­skyite left. Pro­found cyn­i­cism is what was pro­mot­ed. Organ­i­sa­tions describ­ing them­selves as ‘anti-fas­cist’ or ‘anti-Nazi’ are mir­ror images of intend­ed tar­gets — they there­fore invoke and pro­mote fas­cism in order to oppose it. Use­ful idiots are used to dis­guise this hypocrisy. Clap­ton’s remarks were racist. Does­n’t make him a racist, though, and to use the noun with this kind of promis­cu­ity (instead of the adjec­tive) is to demon­strate a polit­i­cal rather than a moral objec­tion — in oth­er words a lust for con­trol rather than a lust for good. Vicky Park gig was great though: TRB, The Clash, Steel Pulse, etc.. Saw EC sup­port­ing Dylan at Black­bushe, the same year (with Joan Arma­trad­ing and Gra­ham Park­er).

  • Dan Sharrow says:

    George Har­ri­son and Clap­ton popped into the stu­dio to record the solo for this song that George had been work­ing on. Clap­ton lis­tened and ran through it once. The track you here is just his sec­ond time play­ing it. And that’s why they call him God!

  • Nope says:

    gra­ham, calm down. There’s noth­ing more insuf­fer­able than a whiny fas­cist troll. Get real. Are peo­ple real­ly sup­posed to just ignore that EC has nev­er so much as explained his tirade, let alone an apol­o­gy? Also, if you seri­ous­ly get hurt feel­ings over being called “honky,” you might just deserve it.

  • Ted Mason says:

    There some fun­ny state­ments here, racist troll I love that. Eric Clap­ton has played with quite a few eth­nic and black musi­cians. But the fact is he was nev­er as pro­gres­sive as George Har­ri­son and he was nev­er as good a play­er. I would not be sur­prised at the racist remarks Clap­ton has made, lets remem­ber Elvis Costel­lo called Ray Charles and James Brown some pret­ty bad racist names in 1979.

    So as I have expe­ri­enced, and I am only half white, I have heard the best and the bright­est white musi­cians go to town with racism. Espe­cial­ly New Wave and Punk. Well…After all that Rock was invent­ed by African Amer­i­cans and would you even think that now today. All rock is white. But you have to admit, Cream was great. Every­thing else Clap­ton did…hmm well Cream was great.

  • Tommye says:

    Let­ting Eric play, shows George was the orig­i­nal ‘Trav­el­ling Wilbury’. Always will­ing to share his music as he has done with Paul McCart­ney. I still believe he said, he could­n’t play it the way he want­ed to hear it. Does mean to me, that he did write the piece. Love all his music and great slide play­ing. Great solo’s OLD Brown Shoe Some­thing etc.

  • Kevin Edward Dolan says:

    I am old enough to have been a Bea­t­les fan from the ear­ly 1960s onward. I also well remem­ber ‘Rock Against Racism’ (in my mid-20s at the time and a sup­port­er). (I am now 65…)

    Just to get this out of the way: we need the likes of Clap­ton to be great musi­cians; we do not need them to be great men. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the facts speak for them­selves. He was (and seems still) an igno­rant and self-cen­tred right-wing homuncu­lus. But it is for his prowess on the elec­tric gui­tar we cel­e­brate him. His ‘Cream’ record­ings with Jack Bruce and Gin­ger Bak­er are clas­sics. They remain mod­els of great musi­cian­ship for fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions of rock and blues gui­tarists.

    It is no sur­prise to me that Har­ri­son had prob­lems with this superb song. It need­ed a high lev­el of expres­sive play­ing that Har­ri­son was nei­ther not­ed for, nor was able to muster. He was always alto­geth­er cool­er and clean­er. Hen­drix or Rory Gal­lagher could have done the job, but nei­ther pre­sum­ably were avail­able. Eric Clap­ton was the next best thing – and the result is a text­book exam­ple of how to make an elec­tric gui­tar weep.

  • Greg Castagne says:

    The entire song is haunt­ing­ly beau­ti­ful- the imagery/metaphor in and the sheer pow­er of the lyrics high­light­ed by an arrange­ment of the music which is class and there’s so much that’s George here call­ing on both him­self and his audi­ence to reflect amid’ floors that need sweep­ing’ on a sad­ly bro­ken world.

  • Libby says:

    Har­ri­son on BADDGE? Whaaaat? GTFOH! Real­ly?

  • TheOtherJim says:

    Actu­al­ly, no, it was­n’t Har­ri­son; it was Clap­ton. Har­ri­son does play, but he does the hand-over-the-strings “chck, chck…” As I recall, he was a lit­tle shy about play­ing on a Cream song.

  • zdeno says:

    And for a reminder of how it all came togeth­er>

    The link at the end of the arti­cle is the ver­sion with vio­lins…

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