In the early 1990s, George Harrison seemed like he was gearing up for a return to the spotlight. His 1987 LP Cloud Nine was a huge surprise hit, and his subsequent work with the Traveling Wilburys pushed the shy Beatle even further into the public eye. The obvious next step was a tour, but Harrison’s disastrous 1974 tour was still a fresh memory, and he seemed to have no interest. But in May of 1990, Harrison joined Eric Clapton onstage in Los Angeles for a couple of Cream songs, and the next year the longtime friends announced a joint tour of Japan.
Twelve concerts were staged across Japan in December of 1991, and it seemed like the jumping off point for a long comeback tour. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t a repeat of his 1974 debacle, but Harrison just didn’t feel any desire to stay on the road. He proved he could still deliver, and nothing beyond that seemed necessary. He did agree to a single show at the Royal Albert Hall in April of 1992 to raise money for the Natural Law Party, but it was an isolated event.
The last time American audiences got a decent glimpse of Harrison was in October of 1992 at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration at Madison Square Garden. He came out near the end to perform “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and “If Not for You,” and then he joined the ensemble for “My Back Pages” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” He did perform two months later during the finale of a Jeff Porcaro tribute show in Los Angeles, but if you blinked, you would have missed him. He merely played some guitar during the finale of “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Over the final decade of Harrison’s life, he was rarely seen in public. He did play an impromptu rendition of “All Things Must Pass” alongside Ravi Shankar on VH1 in 1997, and the following year he was coaxed into performing “Your True Love” at the memorial service for Carl Perkins. But the last time he played a real set in front of a paying audience was the Bob Dylan tribute show at Madison Square Garden. Coincidentally, that was the last place John Lennon ever performed as well.