F1_Beatle

Music and Formula 1 are an exciting mixture that have come together most memorably with Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain,’ which has had a successful marriage with the BBC title sequence for quite some time now. However, ‘The Chain’ was never specifically written to go with moving pictures of fast racing cars, and around the same time that Fleetwood Mac wrote their classic (which was the late 1970′s) an idea struck another music legend.

George Harrison was a very successful musician. Heaven knows how many records were sold during his time in the 1960′s supergroup The Beatles, and in his solo career that followed. But during 1977, George decided to put down his guitar and attend a few F1 races. Up to that point, he’d collected a few fancy motor vehicles with his earnings and had met Emerson Fittipaldi back in 1973, so had gradually developed an interest in the sport. George was a friendly guy, and soon met and got to know various people around the F1 paddock. He saw the motor racing world as a welcome break from the music business. And apparently after having a good old chin wag with Niki Lauda at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, George was inspired enough to write a little ditty called ‘Faster!’ ‘This is a song that Niki, Jody, Emerson and the gang could enjoy’ George stated when he’d finished composing.

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Here are the lyrics to the chorus, so you can sing along!

‘Faster than a bullet from a gun,
He is faster than everyone,
Quicker than the blinking of an eye,
Like a flash you could miss him going by,
No one knows quite how he does it but it’s true they say,
He’s the master of going faster.’

‘Faster’ can be found on George Harrison’s 1979 album entitled ‘George Harrison’ funnily enough. The song did get a single release and was hoped to assist the fundraising for the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Fund, but unfortunately the song failed to chart. Shame! Maybe it’s time for a revival? It’s catchy enough don’t you think?! And after a few listens it is a grower! The engine sound effects you can hear were strapped on for extra high octane excitement in the studio later, and were recorded at the 1978 British GP (a race that the author of this piece was lucky enough to attend I might add!).

Our photo here, depicts George Harrison (second from left), with Nelson Piquet (far left), watching fellow Beatle Ringo Starr (sunglasses) trying to poke what looks like a screwdriver up Jackie Stewart’s nostril! I can’t vouch for the the reason why Ringo is attempting such unorthodox pit-work, but it looks like it’s in the middle of a TV broadcast! I also can’t vouch for the location I’m afraid, but it is around 1984/85.

In later years George could often be seen at F1 and other motor sport events, watching the on track action and also auditioning for new band members! He jammed with the likes of Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Eddie Jordan and even taught Gerhard Berger the ukelele! Who would have guessed that?!

Photo credit: Daniele Amaduzzi, from F1 Images published by Haynes.

  1. Another George Harrison/motorsport-related bit of trivia: Near the end of the Traveling Wilburys song “Dirty World” there is a section where the band members repeat the line, “She loves your…” adding a seemingly random item at the end, for example “She loves your power steering,” or “She loves your fuel injection.” Apparently George and the other Wilburys wrote that section by cutting up phrases from Autosport magazine and choosing them at random!

    Also, the Traveling Wilburys all chose stage names (George was Nelson Wilbury for the first album and Spike Wilbury for the second). When George’s son Dhani contributed extra guitar parts for the remastered version of the Traveling Wilburys albums when they were re-released a couple of years ago, he chose the name “Ayrton Wilbury,” after Senna.

  2. Riccardo Monza says:

    Thanks Red Andy for the additional trivia! It’s all welcome. I just had a listen to ‘Dirty World’ and the rather random car references can be heard quite clearly!

    By the way, the video to ‘Faster’ is an absolute corker with Jackie Stewart playing the role of George Harrison’s chauffeur, and there’s also lots of great F1 footage from the 1970′s! Have a look on You Tube!

  3. “If you need your oil changed I’ll do it for you, for free….” not quite sure what Bob is getting at there….

    Great song though.

  4. Yes, that video is great. Happened to pick up a George Harrison DVD recently, and it had the ” FASTER ” clip in it. Some great memories of 1978 ~ 1979 era of F1. Those cars looked so good, compared to the sanitised F1 we get nowadays.

    The DVD title is George Harrison “The Dark Horse Years 1976 ~ 1992 “

  5. Riccardo Monza says:

    Cheers for your comments Oudinot and Peter G, and also for the DVD info. I too love the cars from the 1970′s as they were more varied in shape, with nice big fat slick tyres. Designers had a field day back then, whereas they are more restricted now.

    By the way, you can still see that era of cars racing in the FIA Historic Formula One championship.

  6. Gary Littlecott says:

    I’m pretty sure the photo was taken at the 1985 European Grand Prix held at Brands Hatch. It’s hard to imagine it now but my friend and I sneaked into the pits during Saturday practice. What’s ironic is that I’m a huge Beatles fan but I only realised that George had attended the race afterwards, after spotting him in some of the photos I took that day. There was no sign of Ringo though.
    By the way, George was a life-long fan of motor racing, attending grands prix as a child at Aintree. I wish he was still around, enjoying the ‘soap opera’ that is F1.
    Cheers
    Gary (Hirakata, Japan)

  7. Riccardo Monza says:

    Many thanks Gary for the information. After a quick investigation, I reckon you’re spot on! The ‘Shell Oils’ sign with the number above is very Brands Hatch during that period, and the book that the photo is from covered the 1984/85 season, and there were only 2 European GP’s at Brands Hatch during the 1980′s -1983 and 1985… So it must be 1985!

    I did try and zoom in on George’s pit pass for further clues, but the resolution wasn’t quite good enough.

    There’s a great clip on the web of George singing a song to Emerson Fittipaldi to the tune of ‘Here Comes The Sun.’ Definitely worth a look if you’re a fan!

    By the way, I hope Hirakata is treating you well! I’ve ventured as far as Kyoto -just down the road of course.

  8. George attended the Australian Adelaide Grand Prix almost every year it was held. He would sit and talk to anyone, just one rule – mention the Beatles and the conversation is over. Very cool.

    • Riccardo Monza says:

      George sounds like down to earth gentleman. He stated in interviews that attending F1 was his escape from the music scene. Thanks for your interest SweetF1.

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