The Beatles: Why George Harrison almost gave his first solo No 1 song to another artist

Michael Jackson and George Harrison discuss music in 1979

The Beatles devastated fans when they decided to bring the band to an end between late 1969 and early 1970. The band had come to the conclusion that they could not work well together anymore, and apparent arguments between the Fab Four had meant some relationships had been soured.

The end of The Beatles meant the beginning of four solo careers, however, which fans now know historically sparked some incredible music from John Lennon and Paul McCartney in particular.

However it was George Harrison who made the first big achievement in the music industry after The Beatles’ split.

50 years ago today, on December 28, 1970, Harrison was awarded his first solo number one single with My Sweet Lord.

The legendary track reached the top of the charts world-round, making it the most popular song on the planet for a few weeks.

My Sweet Lord was quite a personal song for Harrison.

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It was written whilst his band were being interviewed backstage, and he was thinking about words of praise in different religions.

The song includes some instances of these words; namely Hallelujah and Hare Krishna – both of which are words of praise and joy in Judaism and Hinduism, respectively.

What’s more, he released the song on his first album, All Things Must Pass, which was a triple album.

Harrison originally didn’t want to release a single from the album, as he claimed he didn’t want to lessen the “impact” of his new record – but management eventually stepped in and changed his mind.

Even more surprising is that Harrison had initially intended to give away My Sweet Lord to another singer, Billy Preston.

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Preston’s version was recorded and ready to be released before Harrison changed his mind.

In his autobiography, I, Me, Mine, Harrison explained that he wanted “someone” to sing the track, if he decided not to do it, prompting his desire to give it away.

Harrison wrote in the memoir: “I was sticking my neck out on the chopping block because now I would have to live up to something.

“But at the same time I thought: ‘Nobody’s saying it; I wish somebody else was doing it.’”

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Some of the biggest songs from The Beatles were written solo, it turns out, as revealed by a scorned John Lennon back in 1980.

The star explained to David Sheff at the time that he was “hurt” by Paul McCartney when he wrote a song alone during The Beatles’ peak.

According to Lennon, McCartney wrote and recorded Why Don’t We Do It In The Road alone, irking him in the process.

He told the interviewer: “That’s Paul. He even recorded it by himself in another room. That’s how it was getting in those days.

“We came in, and he’d made the whole record. Him drumming, him playing the piano, him singing.

“But he couldn’t… maybe he couldn’t make the break from the Beatles. I don’t know what it was, you know. I enjoyed the track.”

Lennon later added: “Still I can’t speak for George, but I was always hurt when Paul would knock something off without involving us. But that’s just the way it was then.”

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