Can you believe that George Harrison played electric guitar on the novelty song “Basketball Jones”, the official title of which is “Basketball Jones (featuring Tyrone Shoelaces)”, by Cheech & Chong?
“Basketball Jones” first appeared on the 1973 Cheech & Chong album Los Cochinos. Written by Cheech and Chong themselves, it was recorded as a parody of the 1973 song “Love Jones” by Brighter Side of Darkness, which reached # 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Cheech Marin sings the song in falsetto. The song is about a young man’s love for basketball and the basketball he received. The song peaked at number # 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song, and the album, was produced by Lou Adler and the single featured a stellar cast of participants on “Basketball Jones”. George Harrison played electric guitar; Billy Preston on organ; Klaus Voorman on bass; Nicky Hopkins on piano; Jimmy Karstein on drums; Jim Keltner on percussion; Carole King on electric piano; Tom Scott on saxophone.
The impressive group of backing vocalists (dubbed “The Cheerleaders”) were Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector, Michelle Phillips and Jean King.
Where There’s Smoke There’s Cheech & Chong, the accompanying booklet to the album, gives notes on the recording of the track:
“Cheech sings, and Tommy plays piano – that’s all it was at first. In Cheech’s words, “George Harrison and those guys were in the next studio recording, and so Lou [Adler] just ran over there and played it for him. They made up the track right on the spot.” “That was a wild session,’ Lou Adler recalls, “I probably called Carole [King] and told her to come down, but with Harrison and [Klaus] Voorman- I didn’t call and say come in and play. Everyone happened to be in the A&M studios at that particular time, doing different projects. It was spilling out of the studio into the corridors.”
Also, there was an animated short film called “Basketball Jones” which was based on the song “Basketball Jones (featuring Tyrone Shoelaces)”, which was also released in 1973. The animated movie is about an African-American teenager named Tyrone Shoelaces and his love for basketball.
The ex-Beatle was credited under his own name for “Basketball Jones.” As is well known, George Harrison has appeared on many albums – sometimes not even having a credit given and other times using creative pseudonyms. This is a listing of Harrison’s fake names from Book of Rock Lists, the 1981 work by Dave Marsh. The chapter is titled “George Harrison’s Recording Pseudonyms”
1. L’Angelo Misterioso
“Badge,” CREAM, plays rhythm guitar, wrote song with Eric Clapton
“Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune”, JACK BRUCE; plays rhythm guitar
2. Son of Harry
“If You’ve Got Love”, DAVE MASON; plays guitar
3. Hari Georgeson
Many songs for SPLINTER, electric guitar, rhythm guitar, mandolin acoustic guitar
“That’s Life”, BILLY PRESTON plays guitar
4. George O’Hara Smith
“I’m Your Spiritual Breadman”, ASHTON, GARDNER, AND DYKE; plays electric swivel guitar
5. Jai Raj Harrison
Plays percussion on five SPLINTER songs
6. George Harrysong
“You’re Breaking My Heart”, HARRY NILSSON; plays slide guitar
7. George H.
“I Wrote a Simple Song”, BILLY PRESTON; plays guitar
“Costafine Town”, SPLINTER; plays harmonium
“Drink All Day”, SPLINTER; plays harmonium and jew’s harp
“Elly-May”, SPLINTER; plays Moog synthesizer
9. The George O’Hara-Smith Singers
All Things Must Pass, GEORGE HARRISON; overdubbed vocals
10. George O’Hara
“Banana Anna,” NICKY HOPKINS; plays guitar
“Edward”, NICKY HOPKINS; plays guitar
“Footprint”, GARY WRIGHT; plays guitar and slide guitar
“Speed On”, NICKY HOPKINS; plays lead guitar
“Waiting for the Band”, NICKY HOPKINS; plays slide guitar
In addition , this 1974 Cheech and Chong song, released one year after “Basketball Jones”, never fails to bring a smile ……….