Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My favorite rock music instrument is the guitar, and, though I play a little, I am in awe by some of the masters.

One in that category is the late George Harrison, and it is he who inspires my question.

What did he do to create that unmistakable opening chord on “A Hard Day's Night”?

I have tried but cannot even come close.
—Rick Jensen, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR RICK: Close is as close as you can get on your own. Duplicating that chord requires a supporting cast.

Easily among the most instantly recognizable opening chords ever, those two seconds involve much more than just George on his 12-string Rickenbacker.

Though not individually distinct, Paul on bass, Ringo on drums, George Martin on piano, and a touch of random reverberation are all crucial to the forceful kickoff on the finished product.

As for getting close, the best advice for going it solo comes from Randy Bachman, lead guitarist for Guess Who and singer-guitarist of Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

In a segment of Randy Bachman's Guitarology 101 (CBC and satellite radio), he explains:

“The opening chord of “A Hard Day's Night” is the most famous chord ever played on a 12-string guitar!

“George plays an F chord, with a G on top, and a G on the bottom with a C next to that G.”

Randy then strums it live, coming amazingly close to what the Beatles and their producer created at the Abbey Road Studios, in April 1964. You should be able to do so with a similar result.

DEAR JERRY: Check any telephone directory and you will see how very, very few people have a last name that begins with X. But since I am one of that rare breed (actually pronounced Zenos), I'd like to know if any popular recording artists are alpha-filed under X.

Also, how many popular songs from singles actually have “Xmas” in the title?
—Joseph Xenos, Houston

DEAR JOSEPH: By not limiting the search to specific genres or time periods, there are, perhaps, more than you might think, though X is the letter with the fewest names of people as well as songs.

By far, the most successful X act is the Atlanta all-girl foursome, Xscape.

They sold millions of singles and albums between 1993 and 2000, with their best-known tune being “Just Kickin' It,” their platinum-selling debut single.

Others in the X-file are X; Xavier; Xavion; X-Clan; X-Con; X-Ecutioners; Xmas Balls; X-Rays (1949); XTC; X-25 Band; Xymox; XYZ; Xzibit

All but X-Con and Xzibit (solo males) are groups, and only X-Rays is earlier than the 1980s.

Just because none of your X brethren hit the charts before the '80s doesn't mean they weren't trying. Here are some Xamples of earlier efforts, and the decade in which they recorded:

1910s: Xylophone Solo Orchestra
1950s: X-Citers Vocal Group; and X-Rays (not the '40s group)
1960s: X. Lincoln; Ndikho Xaba and the Natives; X-Cellents; X-Ceptions; X-Citers Unlimited; XL's; XL-5; X-Man; X-Men; and Xtreems
1970s: X-Cessors; X-Cetra; Xenogenesis; Dax Xenos; XIT; XS; Baggage; and XYZ (not the 1980s group)
Might Dax Xenos be a relative?

There are more than 100 “Xmas” songs, most being album cuts and non-hit singles, but I can only think of two bona fide hits: “Nuttin' for Xmas” (1955, Joe Ward) and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (1971, John Lennon & Yoko Ono).

IZ ZAT SO? Before the 1980 hit soundtrack single, “Xanadu,” by Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra, there was only one popular song title beginning with X.

In May 1948, “X-Temperanous Boogie,” an original instrumental by Camille Howard “Playing the Piano with Rhythm Accompaniment,” made Billboard's Top 10 “Most-Played Juke Box Race Records.”

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page