On September 6, 1968, guitarist Eric Clapton entered Abbey Road Studio Two in London to overdub lead guitar onto a newly recorded Beatles song called “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
During the recording of The Beatles (aka the White Album), Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Ringo Starr were getting on each other’s nerves. To lighten the mood a bit, Harrison asked his friend Clapton to play on his new song, which he felt was being unfairly overshadowed by John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s new songs anyway.
Clapton originally wasn’t all that into the idea, saying, “Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records.” “So what?” Harrison said. “It’s my song.” So Clapton showed up—and, as it turned out, the battling Beatles were on their best behavior that day. Anyway, the clip below, which has been available on YouTube for a few years—on and off, features a beautiful isolated recording of Clapton’s guitar track from the song—solo and all.
Of course, if you’ve played The Beatles Rock Band, you might already know about this (and other isolated tracks from Beatles songs). Gear-wise, Clapton played Harrison’s red 1957 Gibson Les Paul through a Fender Deluxe amp; other Beatles know-it-alls say it was a Gibson SG with a Maestro Vibrola. You decide! (Hint: It was the Les Paul.)
As a bonus, we’ve thrown in McCartney’s isolated bass track from the song. Enjoy!
Coincidentally, Clapton has never stopped recording with members of the Beatles, appearing on several solo recordings by Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr since 1967. He even appears on two songs on McCartney’s 2012 album, Kisses on the Bottom ‡
for Guitar World.