15 Facts You Never Knew About Eric Clapton Almost Replacing George Harrison In The Beatles

By | April 17, 2023

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George Harrison and Eric Clapton performing at the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971. Source: Getty Images / Bettmann / Contributor

John, Paul, Eric, and Ringo -- meet The Beatles! No, that doesn't sound right, but it might have happened if Eric Clapton had replaced George Harrison as John Lennon proposed. By the time this idea was on the table, The Beatles had ceased to function as a group, but it's a tantalizing thought that in some alternate universe the British blues-guitar virtuoso joined the most successful band of the '60s and helped repair the frayed relationship between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. There is a similar alternate-history where keyboardist Billy Preston joins as a fifth member and the Fab Four -- now the Fab Five -- goes on to inevitable musical glory.

While Clapton and Preston contributed to some classic Beatles recordings, neither joined the group, which may have been past the point of saving anyway. Here's how Clapton's brush with Beatle-hood went down.

George Harrison And Eric Clapton Were Friends, Not Rivals

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George Harrison and Eric Clapton circa 1968. Source: Tumblr

Eric Clapton first met the famous Beatles in December 1964, at their holiday Christmas Show in London, England. Clapton and his band the Yardbirds played back-up act, supporting the iconic Beatles. The Fab Four promptly befriended Clapton; especially George Harrison, who eventually became his closest friend.

Although the Lennon-McCarney songwriting partnership produced the vast majority of Beatles classics, George Harrison contributed many beloved songs to the catalogue, including “Here Comes the Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The latter, recorded at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London, features Clapton on lead guitar.