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[whitespace] George Harrison Simple ideas with brilliant arrangements marked the music of George Harrison.


There Went the Sun

Local guitarists reflect on George Harrison's death

By Sarah Quelland

THE DEATH OF THE YOUNGEST BEATLE, guitarist GEORGE HARRISON, has left much of the baby boomer world in mourning. Known as the Quiet Beatle, Harrison willingly let the other members of the Beatles steal the spotlight and let his significant contributions, including introducing the sitar to the Beatles' music and setting the Eastern-flavored tone to many Beatles songs, go largely unattributed. But neither Harrison's influence nor his death have gone unnoticed in local circles, and it's not only those who came of age in the '60s who are grappling with the loss.

JIMMY ARCENEAUX, guitarist and vocalist for LOS BASTARDOS DE AMOR and a veteran of the South Bay scene, couldn't stop gushing about Harrison's song "Crackerbox Palace." "The song is so amazing. It's so pop," he explained. "It sounds like what Jellyfish was trying to do." Arceneaux also expressed deep respect for the "weepy, sad-sounding guitar lines" that defined Harrison's trademark multilayered guitar sound. "He writes the simplest things, but the arrangements are just brilliant," he exclaimed. "It's a shame: George Harrison's dead, Bret Michaels lives."

Though a little more solemn, DREDG guitarist MARK ENGLES echoes Arceneaux's sentiment, describing Harrison as a "brilliant guitarist." Calling from Boston, where dredg is finishing up its new album, he said simply, "I think the loss and influence of such a quiet, passive man is immeasurable. He's at peace now."

Speaking with a hint of devastation in his voice, DOWNSIDE guitarist RYAN HERNANDEZ told me Harrison was a major influence in his life and he's still coming to terms with his death. "He's one of the reasons I picked up the guitar," he explained, adding that it was the Beatles' Abbey Road that first made him want to become a musician. Hernandez said Harrison's experimentation with world music has had the most impact on his own playing, and Harrison's fearless explorations gave him the confidence to try new ideas of his own. It's hard to lose a hero and Hernandez admits that at first he didn't believe the news reports. "Even though I didn't know him, I felt connected with him through the music," he said sadly. "At least he went peacefully. It's not as bad."

REMOTER guitarist and frontman ANDREW FLEIG was awake at 4am playing his own guitar when he heard the news of Harrison's death. Still struggling with the news, he told me, "My guitar weeped with me that morning, and not gently." Expressing a depth of sadness similar to Hernandez', Fleig said, "Although I never had the chance to know George, I felt a very personal sense of loss at his passing. George's contributions to world culture as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and film producer are eclipsed only by his unsurpassable humanity. He was a singular genius which changed the world for the better. Would that we all aspired to such a legacy."

STUNT MONKEY guitarist ARAM SARKISSIAN summed it up best, declaring "All bands owe a debt of gratitude to the Beatles." Citing the lifestyle, the lore and the fandom they created, he said, "The Beatles iconified the notion of a rock & roll band and all that goes with that." Though he didn't follow Harrison's solo career closely, Sarkissian stated, "He was a Beatle. With him dying, you have to reflect on what he was part of. He was one of the Fab Four. He was a rock & roll icon. He was part of that pioneering spirit."

George Harrison was all of those things. His legacy will live on not just through his songs, but through a simple yet brilliant style of songwriting that can't help but continue to influence guitarists--some whether they realize it or not.

ALL THE NEWS: The MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP will play a second date at the Icon Nightclub tonight (Dec. 6). TOMMY MERRY'S SATRIANI TRIBUTE opens.

PLAN AHEAD: SIMON STINGER, PILOT 57, VIGIL and MDSO, Dec. 6 at the CACTUS CLUB; TIANA NOYES AND THE BOYS, Dec. 6 at SCRUFFY MURPHY'S in Sunnyvale; CONVERGE, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, THE HOPE CONSPIRACY and PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS, Dec. 7 at the b in San Francisco; the MR. T EXPERIENCE, the ODD NUMBERS, the TIMEOUTS and BABY GRAND, Dec. 8 at the Cactus; CLUTCH, Dec. 8-9 at the Pound; DEATHRAY, Dec. 9 at CAFE DU NORD in San Francisco; ALL, the ATARIS and DIESEL BOY, Dec. 9 at the Pound; DISHWALLA, HOPECHILD and ELI, Dec. 11 at the USUAL; the APEX THEORY, JADA MORNING, FACELIFT and HANDSOME DEVIL, Dec. 11 at the Pound.

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From the December 6-12, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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