When asking his longtime friend and collaborator George Harrison to join him on his 1991 Japanese tour, Eric Clapton had to be very persuasive. George was not a huge fan of traveling. As a Beatle, he was repeatedly dragged around the world during the height of Beatlemania. The tour ruined George’s nerves. He frequently experienced mental and physical insecurity, paranoia, and anxiety. Fortunately, the band ceased touring in 1966. In 1974, George nevertheless courageously embarked on his first and only solo American tour. That was inferior. Therefore, George did not have a strong performance history. Clapton’s argument needed to be persuasive.
Touring was not the former Beatles’ area of expertise. George enjoyed performing in the early days of The Beatles, especially during the band’s Hamburg residency. A couple of years later, Beatlemania commenced. Olivia, George’s wife, told Rolling Stone, “If 2 million people were screaming at you, I believe it would take a long time to stop hearing that in your head.” George was unfit for the position. They hid from throngs of screaming girls in cars and hotel rooms, and armored police vehicles escorted them to the stage. It had become impersonal to perform. Joshua M. Greene wrote in Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison, “During a September 1964 concert in Kansas City, hundreds of screaming fans broke through police barriers and attacked the band’s mobile dressing room.
“The van shook back and forth until it finally tipped over with a grunt. To restore order, police attacked the mob with rubber billy clubs in retaliation… The Beatles were able to survive the circumstances of their career due to an inexhaustible supply of friendship and the ability to laugh at anything, even tragedy, but their lives lacked humor. At least, touring with The Beatles was straightforward. They had minimal equipment to set up and played brief sets. George’s American tour in 1974 was not comparable. It was a catastrophe in every way. There were a paucity of performances. After George released Cloud Nine in 1987, Creem Magazine inquired whether he would tour. Oh, I certainly hope not (laughter)”, George responded. “No, I wouldn’t mind doing a few shows here and there, but people keep asking, and the only way I can see it happening is that even to do one concert is so much work: to get a band, rehearse them, and not just the band, but also the lighting and the sound… Today, you cannot simply go out with a microphone and a small amplifier as the Beatles did.
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“It’s hardly worth it to assemble such a large group of people and exert so much effort for only two performances. Then it means you’ll be on the road for six months, and I don’t know if I can survive that.” George stated that he would prefer to perform at an isolated Holiday Inn. How Eric Clapton persuaded George Harrison to tour with him in 1991. George did have some regrets about not touring, despite his dislike. “The only regret I have about not touring more is that I enjoy playing with a band,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1992. When he asked George to join him on his 1991 tour of Japan, Clapton felt regret.
George explained how he came to be on Clapton’s tour: “He’d been everywhere-Latin America, Australia, the Far East-for the past two years, and he’d tell me that people would always ask him, ‘Where’s George?’ What’s happening? Why is he not taking any action?’ “Then in London, during the recording of Clapton’s ’24 Nights’ album at the Royal Albert Hall, I saw him frequently and he said, ‘Look, we’re not doing anything after this, and if you’d like, you could use my band and I’d come with you, and it would be easy for you.'” George accepted his friend’s offer with reluctance. Clapton and George performed 12 shows, which benefited them both. George joined Clapton on tour for another reason. It enabled him to stop smoking. However, Clapton also benefited from their Japanese tour. Conor, his 4-year-old son, recently died after falling from a window. He had taken a year off, but he needed something fresh to distract him from the tragedy.
During the tour, George explained to a journalist, “I really needed an excuse to stop smoking.” “I had to get myself out of a rut, and I had been smoking for my entire life… Eric suggested it because he wasn’t working this year, and I think he liked the idea because he had committed to a year off, and he really wanted to work, especially after the accident that occurred earlier in the year. Engage his mind in work. “I needed something to help me break out of a rut. I reasoned, “Well, this is a good opportunity to experience what it’s like; by going to Japan, I can determine if I want to do more touring or not; it’s a way for me to dip my toe in the water and gauge how it is for myself, my own endurance.” “That is what I was concerned about… I’m in good shape and able to sing and breathe onstage.” George described the entire experience as “quite nice, just long enough to get a feel for it without being too long to dislike. I had a good time.” He told the Chicago Tribune that his ego was satisfied after the first couple of performances. However, George was not immediately prepared to return to the road. The greatest benefit of the 1991 tour was that Clapton persuaded George to attend, which was advantageous for both of them.