On this day in pop culture history: Eric Clapton and The Beatles recorded ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’
On September 6, 1968, Eric Clapton joined The Beatles for a day.
It was for the recording of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The George Harrison-penned song now famously features lead guitar by Clapton, though he wasn’t officially credited on The White Album where the song appeared.
The Beatles had made a couple attempts to record “Guitar Gently Weeps” earlier that year, in July and also an electric version on September 5. None of those arrangements were quite coming together.
“They weren’t taking it seriously,” Harrison later said of his bandmates. There was already a great deal of of conflict among the group by this point.
The next day, Harrison was giving Clapton a ride from Surrey to London, and he asked Clapton to play on the track. Clapton at first balked at the idea, saying “Nobody [else] ever plays on the Beatles’ records.” But he eventually agreed to join the Fab Four at what is now called Abbey Road Studios.
With the famous Cream guitarist in the studio, finally all four Beatles were taking the recording seriously. “It’s interesting to see how nicely people behave when you bring a guest in, because they don’t really want everybody to know that they’re so bitchy,” Harrison recalled.
Several artist have covered “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” since, including Peter Frampton and Santana (with Yo-Yo Ma on cello). The song recently got a new shamisen-infused cover for Kubo and the Two Strings, sung by Regina Spektor.
Other notable September 6 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1925: The silent horror film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera premiered at Astor Theatre in New York City.
• 1948: Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale-based film The Red Shoes premiered in the U.K.
• 1955: Elvis Presley performed at a high school gym in Bono, Arkansas. So many eager fans gathered to see him that the gym’s floor collapsed. No one was injured.
• 1986: Saturday morning cartoon spin-off The Flintstone Kids premiered on ABC.
• 1988: New Kids on the Block’s second album, Hangin’ Tough, hit record store shelves. It remains the group’s best-selling album.
• 1997: At the public funeral of Princess Diana, Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind.” His writing partner Bernie Taupin penned new lyrics for the 1973 song devoted Diana.
• 2001: Britney Spears sang “Slave 4 U” in a VMAs performance that quickly became controversial (she danced with a live albino burmese python, and of course PETA was none too pleased about that) and has become iconic. That night, Fatboy Slim took home the most Moonmen, and the Video of the Year award went to Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink’s “Lady Marmalade” cover for Moulin Rouge!
• 2013: Riddick, the third film in the Riddick series, opened in U.S. theaters.