First recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1968).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1968).
Also recorded by Kenny Rankin (1976), Jeff Healey (1990), Jake Shimabukuro (2004), Tom Petty & Jeff Lynne (2004).
From the wiki: “Inspiration for the song came to Geroge Harrison when reading the I Ching, which, as Harrison put it, ‘seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else… opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental.’ Taking this idea of relativism to his parents’ home in northern England, Harrison committed to write a song based on the first words he saw upon opening a random book. Those words were ‘gently weeps’, and he immediately began writing the song.
“The initial incarnation was not final, as Harrison said: ‘Some of the words to the song were changed before I finally recorded it.’ A demo recorded at George’s home in Esher includes an unused verse:
I look at the trouble and see that it’s raging,
While my guitar gently weeps.
As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but ageing,
Still, my guitar gently weeps.
“As well as an unused line in the very beginning:
The problems you sow, are the troubles you’re reaping,
Still, my guitar gently weeps.
“This line was eventually omitted in favor of the one appearing on The Beatles.
“The Beatles recorded the song several times from July-September 1968. Take 1 on 25 July involved Harrison on his J-200 guitar and an overdubbed harmonium. On 6 September 1968, during a ride from Surrey into London, Harrison asked his friend Eric Clapton to add a lead guitar solo to the song. Clapton was reluctant. He said, ‘Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records’, but Harrison convinced him and Clapton’s solo, using Harrison’s Gibson Les Paul guitar ‘Lucy’ (a recent gift from Clapton), was recorded that evening. Harrison later said that in addition to his solo, Clapton’s presence had another effect on the band: ‘It made them all try a bit harder; they were all on their best behavior.’
“In 1990 Canadian musician Jeff Healey recorded a cover version of ‘While My Guitar …’ that was released on his 1990 CD Hell To Pay. Healey’s version of this song featured George Harrison and Jeff Lynne on backing vocals and acoustic guitar. A cover was uploaded to YouTube by ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro in 2004. Also in 2004, Harrison was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was played in tribute by Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Steve Ferrone, Marc Mann, and Dhani Harrison, and concluding with a memorable guitar solo by fellow inductee Prince.”
The Beatles, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” album version (1968):
Kenny Rankin, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (1976):
The Jeff Healey Band, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (1990):
Jake Shimabukuro, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (2004):
Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison & Prince, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Induction performance (2004):