The Time George Harrison Joined Paul Simon On ‘Saturday Night Live’
The Beatles legend appears throughout a 1976 episode of the long-running sketch comedy program.
In November 1976, Paul Simon hosted Saturday Night Live for the second time, having appeared the year before as host of the first season’s second episode. While the first episode with Simon hosting featured several other musical guests, only one notable musician joined Simon for his return to 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City.
On November 20, 1976, Simon hosted the eighth episode of the second season of SNL. Along with hosting duties, Simon was the musical guest and this time brought along The Beatles’ George Harrison.
Harrison’s performance with Simon was the first time a member of The Beatles appeared on Saturday Night Live. During the first season, SNL producer Lorne Michaels went on camera to entice The Beatles to perform on the new-at-the-time late-night sketch show. The recurring bit began with Michaels offering $3,000 if Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Harrison reunited on the show. Michaels followed up by jokingly upping the offer to $3,200.
Years later, McCartney revealed he was at Lennon’s home at the Dakota in New York City watching Saturday Night Live when Michaels made one of his pleas. The former bandmates thought about heading down to Rockefeller Center but instead decided against what would have been a legendary reunion.
Months after Michaels made his attempt to get The Beatles to appear on SNL, the show landed one of the members of The Beatles when Harrison performed with Simon. The episode’s cold open featured Harrison and Michaels continuing the bit by negotiating over the producer’s previous $3,000 offer. Harrison also delivered the signature opening line “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
During the episode’s monologue, Simon performed “Still Crazy After All These Years” dressed in an iconic turkey costume. After ditching the ridiculous costume, Simon and his band performed “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” Simon also played “Something So Right” and his Simon & Garfunkel classic “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Harrison and Simon performed two songs together on SNL. The pair, each on acoustic guitar, played one of Harrison’s outstanding contributions to The Beatles’ catalog, “Here Comes The Sun.” Harrison and Simon traded off singing the verses on the joyous performance of the Abbey Road standout. The two legendary singer-songwriters also collaborated on Simon’s now-classic tune “Homeward Bound,” once again trading verses on the song off Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
The SNL episode with Harrison and Simon also featured pre-recorded music videos for Harrison’s songs “This Song” and “Crackerbox Palace.” Both songs were recorded for Harrison’s solo album, Thirty Three & 1/3, which was released right before his SNL appearance.
Watch George Harrison show up throughout the November 20, 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Paul Simon below:
In 2014, Simon on the defunct late-night talk show Conan during the program’s George Harrison week and performed “Here Comes The Sun.” During an interview with host Conan O’Brien, Simon was asked about the experience performing with on SNL with Harrison, who died on this date in 2001 at age 58. Watch Simon discuss their friendship and more in the video below:
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