Friday, October 28, 2011


George Harrison's beloved "Rocky" is perhaps one of the music world's most well known guitars.

"Rocky" began life as a 1961/2 solid body Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster, and was bought for George second hand, as his first Fender Stratocaster, by Beatles roadie Mal Evans in 1965. He first used it for a recording on "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" from "Help!" (1965). One was also bought for John Lennon, and the two guitars as brothers were used during the recording of "Rubber Soul"(1965), uniting for the eminent solo in "Nowhere Man". "Rocky" would also be used on following albums, such as "Revolver" (1966).

John Lennon and his Fender Stratocaster - what "Rocky" had originally looked like.

In April 1967, The Beatles had just finished recording their momentous album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". At this time psychedelia was blooming, influencing music, art, fashion, and even guitars. It was during this time that George decided to transform "Rocky".

“The paint started flaking off immediately... We were painting everything at that time: our houses, our clothes, our cars, our shop. Everything. In those days day-glo orange and lime paint were very rare, but I discovered where to buy them — very thick, rubbery stuff. I got a few different colors and painted the Strat, not very artistically because the paint was just too thick. I had also found out about cellulose paint, which came in a tube with a ball tip, so I filled in the scratch plate with that and drew on the head of the guitar with [wife] Pattie’s sparkly green nail varnish.”
George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology.

Also featured on the guitar were the words "Be Bop A Lula", "Go Cat Go", and the guitar's name on the headstock. Despite the strong use of colour, the back of the guitar however, would remain in its original blue.

"Rocky" featured in Guitar Player magazine, November 1987.

The new and improved "Rocky" would then be seen by the greater portion of the world on June 25th 1967, during The Beatles performance of "All You Need Is Love" in black and white on "Our World", the world's first global television link. However, it would be most remembered and more clearly seen in The Beatles' self-directed, psychedelic film "Magical Mystery Tour" (1967), being played by Harrison during the "I Am The Walrus" sequence.

"Rocky" would then remain a very special guitar to Harrison. In approximately 1969 he began playing slide on it, and would use it for many, many years to come. To name a few, it would appear on the Dark Horse Tour of 1974, feature on "Free As A Bird", and make one of its last known public appearances at the Concert for George in 2002, being played by Andy Fairweather-Low.

Andy Fairweather-Low playing "Rocky" at the Concert for George, 2002.

George Harrison discusses "Rocky".

I myself personally honored "Rocky" by naming my first electric guitar after it: "Rocky George II".

(Sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. )

1 comment:

  1. One of my electric guitars, a copy of a sunburst Epiphone, is named Dhani George <3