The Beatles: Paul McCartney Played the Guitar Solo on a George Harrison Song "Taxman"


Ruben G. Vasquez

Beatles Historian

Paul McCartney Played the Guitar Solo Instead of George Harrison

The Beatles left an indelible mark on the music industry, with their innovative compositions. One such song, “Taxman,” from their album Revolver, stands out due to the unexpected choice of Paul McCartney playing the guitar solo instead of George Harrison, the lead guitarist. This decision has sparked much curiosity among fans and critics alike, leading to speculation about the reasons behind this musical deviation. We will explore the factors that might have influenced Paul McCartney’s involvement in the guitar solo.

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Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney, known primarily for his expertise as a bassist and vocalist, demonstrated his musicianship by playing the guitar solo in “Taxman.” Despite George Harrison being the designated lead guitarist, McCartney’s abilities were not to be overlooked. The Beatles were a band of exceptional talent, and each member possessed a wide range of skills. McCartney’s guitar proficiency and versatility made him a suitable candidate for handling the solo, showcasing the band’s collective musicianship.

Guitar Solo

One of the defining features of The Beatles was their collaborative approach to music-making. They continually pushed the boundaries and experimented with different roles and instruments. In this spirit of creative exploration, it is conceivable that McCartney’s involvement in the guitar solo was a result of the band’s shared desire to challenge traditional norms and expectations. The decision may have been driven by a collective agreement to let the song evolve naturally, with McCartney’s contribution adding a unique flavor to the overall sound.

George Harrison

To fully appreciate the impact of McCartney’s guitar solo in “Taxman,” it is important to understand the historical context of its release. In 1966, the United Kingdom was grappling with high tax rates imposed on its citizens. McCartney, as a prominent musician and taxpayer, was directly affected by these policies. With “Taxman,” George Harrison wrote a satirical critique of the taxation system.

The guitar solo serves as a musical embodiment of the frustration and resentment felt by many taxpayers during that era. McCartney’s incisive playing mirrors the biting lyrics, creating a powerful fusion of music and message. The solo’s aggressive tone and dynamic phrasing amplify the song’s rebellious spirit, making it a significant cultural commentary.


The guitar solo in “Taxman” serves as a pivotal moment in the song, conveying a sense of urgency and rebellion. It is plausible that McCartney, having actively participated in the song’s creation, felt a deep connection to its underlying message. By performing the guitar solo, McCartney could infuse his own interpretation into the music, aligning the instrumental break with the song’s overall theme of political criticism and societal dissent. His understanding of the essence of “Taxman” may have prompted him to step forward and take on this crucial musical role.


Recording sessions can be unpredictable, and various factors can influence the final outcome of a song. It is possible that practical considerations and studio dynamics played a part in McCartney assuming the guitar solo. The Beatles were known to experiment and make spontaneous decisions during the recording process. Sources from the recording session claim McCartney’s guitar solo was the result of a spur-of-the-moment idea, an organic choice that resonated with the collective energy within the studio.

Author's Summation

The Beatles, a name etched in the annals of music history, brought forth a revolutionary soundscape that continues to resonate across generations. Amidst their discography lies a gem that showcases the remarkable synergy between Paul McCartney and George Harrison – “Taxman.” This article delves into the captivating narrative behind Paul McCartney’s mesmerizing guitar solo on this iconic George Harrison composition.

In the realm of the Fab Four, collaboration was the heartbeat that fueled their creative fire. As the Beatles embarked on the journey to create their groundbreaking album “Revolver,” Paul McCartney took the lead on one of its tracks – “Taxman.” The song, marked by its incisive lyrics on taxation, bore testimony to the band’s evolution. McCartney and George Martin, the fifth Beatle and renowned producer, laid the foundation for what would become one of the most striking guitar moments in the history of music.

Paul McCartney’s guitar playing had a fire that ignited the very essence of “Taxman.” The lead guitar solo he contributed was nothing short of stunning, a testament to his musical prowess. The fact that Paul and George Martin started to work out a solo for this track illustrates the meticulous craftsmanship they invested in every musical detail.

George Harrison’s face bore a testament to the remarkable chemistry between McCartney and Harrison. McCartney’s ability to infuse emotion into every note resonated with Harrison, who was notably pleased to have Paul play that pivotal bit on “Taxman.” It’s a testament to the collaborative spirit of the Beatles – where each member’s strengths were celebrated and woven into the fabric of their sound.

Paul McCartney took a calculated step into the lead guitarist role, a domain usually occupied by Harrison. The result was a solo that stood out as a defining moment in the song. In the words of George Martin, McCartney’s solo was accentuated by the “choppy fuzz-toned guitar chords,” accentuating the comic and incisive essence of the song.

McCartney’s approach to the solo reflected his keen sense of innovation. He used guitar chords to create a distinct soundscape, giving the solo a unique character while honoring the overarching rhythm guitar. This approach resonated with the essence of the song, amplifying its message with every strum.

The Beatles’ departure from their usual songwriting style was evident in “Taxman.” As the song found its shape, McCartney’s solo emerged as a pivotal element, enhancing the composition’s vibrancy. The distortion-laden rhythm guitar and the strident mid-way solo with Harrison showcased McCartney’s artistry in a whole new light.

The guitar riff McCartney crafted seamlessly intertwined with the thematic undercurrents of the song. McCartney’s solo was a harmonious testament to his ability to elevate a composition, creating a bridge between his own distinctive style and the Beatles’ collective genius.

In the vast tapestry of Beatles’ contributions, Paul McCartney’s guitar solo on George Harrison’s “Taxman” stands as a shining example of artistic collaboration. McCartney’s dexterity, George Harrison’s compositional brilliance, and the guiding hand of George Martin converged to create a masterpiece that still reverberates through the corridors of musical history. As the 50 greatest guitar moments are recounted, McCartney’s solo on “Taxman” remains a sublime reminder of the enduring magic that the Beatles bestowed upon the world.

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