George Harrison’s heartbreaking final performance

George Harrison was famously a very spiritual man, meaning when he passed away, he would have been, on some level, at peace with it. Fans of his weren’t quite as ready, though; his death was tough for many to cope with, as his music was such a massive part of so many lives. His final performance, in a sense, mirrors these emotions. While some might perceive it as sad, it meant so much to him that it would likely have been the perfect way to make peace.

It’s funny to think that someone with such legendary status and who has influenced so many also had his influences, but no one was closer to his idols than Harrison was. Carl Perkins, one of the early pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll, was a big part of Harrisons personal and professional life, to the point that he confessed things would have been very different were it not for Perkins.

“He said, ‘If it hadn’t have been for your daddy, I never would have picked up a guitar,’” said Stan Perkins, remembering what Harrison had said to him at his Dad’s funeral. It’s true. In fact, Perkins’s influence over the entire band is present in their discography, given they covered his songs more than anybody else’s, as they recorded and released ‘Honey Don’t’, ‘Matchbox’, and ‘Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby’.

It was at Perkins’s funeral that Harrison would perform for the final time. He was already suffering from throat cancer, something Perkins himself also had, and as such, he hadn’t even attempted singing for some time. Because of his distance from singing, his performance at the funeral was never scheduled; it was impromptu and something Harrison initially hesitated to do.

“When Wynonna [Judd] asked [Harrison] to get up, I could see a little terror,” said musician Wes Henley, “And I think that was more about, as he said later, he wasn’t sure anything was going to come out. He hadn’t been singing at all.” Finally, Harrison did get up but was still unsure about the situation. He looked out for Perkins’s sons in the sea of mourners as he began playing ‘Your True Love’.

“He wanted to see our reaction,” said Stan, “I smiled at him, and it seemed liked when I did that, and we might have all done it at the same time, it lifted his spirits, and he wanted to sing.”

The funeral had been a relatively solemn affair before Harrison’s performance, with everyone playing opting for a sad number. “It made it more of a celebration about Carl rather than a grieving thing,” said Henley.

Harrison didn’t perform again after Perkins’ funeral, but something seems incredibly fitting about that. Perkins was the man who made Harrison pick up a guitar, and his final performance was saying goodbye to the man he owed so much to. No doubt, when Harrison passed, he would have asked Perkins what he made of the impromptu performance. If his son’s reaction is anything to go by, he’ll have loved it.

“If my dad could have raised up out of that box right there, he would have smiled and said, ‘Go, Cat, Go!’ I guarantee you. That’s the way he’d have wanted to go out.”

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