Among the many notable music names who contributed to Cheech & Chong’s comic 1973 hit “Basketball Jones” was the late George Harrison, who played lead guitar on the session. And we may be hearing more where that came from.
“We’ve got a ton of outtakes, where he’s trying different things,” Tommy Chong tells Billboard. “We’ve got all of that in the can that we’re going to spring on people eventually, one day. That’d be great.”
Chong did not voice any specific plans for releasing the Harrison material. This year marks the 45th anniversary of “Basketball Jones” and the duo’s Los Cochinos album, but Cheech & Chong have been focused primarily on celebrating the 40th anniversary of their film Up In Smoke.
“Basketball Jones,” a spoof on Brighter Side of Darkness’ “Love Jones,” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, higher than the original. Other musicians on the track included Carole King, Billy Preston, Tom Scott, Klaus Voorman and Nicky Hopkins, among others, while Darlene Love and Michelle Phillips were among the “cheerleaders” heard on the song. Chong, meanwhile, brought Harrison to the party.
“George and I were buddies,” he recalls. “George and I used to smoke quite a bit when we’d meet once in a while at different places. He was in the studio at A&M at the same time we were doing ‘Basketball Jones,’ so Lou (Adler) asked him to come in and do a little guitar riff for us. And George is George; He literally made that song. I had Alexa play ‘Basketball Jones’ by Cheech & Chong, and the guitar riff is so good…’”
Harrison was recording his 1973 album Living In the Material World at the time. He passed away on Nov. 29, 2001 at the age of 58 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2004.