The first song by an ex-Beatle to reach #1, George Harrison’s 1970 hit My Sweet Lord, was dogged by plagiarism claims – but it’s a fine song.
When George wrote My Sweet Lord in Denmark in late 1969, he did so with keyboardist Billy Preston in mind. Billy had done a lot of work with The Beatles and had a pretty successful solo career. He did release this song and had a minor hit but nothing like George’s success.
the first solo beatle #1
My Sweet Lord was released in in the US in November 1970 but not in the UK because George didn’t want to detract from the album, All Things Must Pass.
Earlier in 1970-71 the other three Beatles also released solo albums – none of them released singles from those albums in the UK, however.
The plagiarism suit between George and Bright Tunes Music is surely the most famous of all such cases. The case lasted over ten years with Bright Tune Music claiming the song was ripped off The Chiffons’ hit, He’s So Fine.
The short story is in 1976, a US court determined that George had copied He’s So Fine, albeit subconsciously. Then, in 1978, before the court made any decision on what damages should be paid, George’s ex-manager, Allen Klein, bought the copyright to He’s So Fine from Bright Tunes Music – rather a clever plan I thought!
In 1981, the court finally made a decision on what the level of damage should be – $1,599,987. However, it also ruled that, because of Allen Klein’s “duplicity” in the case, George should have to pay only $587,000 to Klein. That was the amount which Klein had paid for He’s So Fine.
Whether George copied it or not the fact is – they sound pretty similar but I don’t care, My Sweet Lord is one of the all-time great songs!
my sweet lord fax
- My Sweet Lord was released in the US on 23 November 1970 and the UK on 15 January 1971.
- My Sweet Lord reached #1 on both sides of the Atlantic. It spent four weeks at the top of the US chart and five weeks at the top of the UK chart.
- After George’s death in 2002, My Sweet Lord was re-released in the UK and again hit #1. Proceeds from the 2002 single went to the Material World Charitable Foundation, which Harrison started in 1973 to support charities that work with children and the poor.
- My Sweet Lord is a song of praise towards the Hindu god Krishna.
- Rolling Stone Magazine ranked My Sweet Lord at #460 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- In the US My Sweet Lord was released as a double A-side with Isn’t It a Pity. In the UK it was also a double A-side with What is Life. It was released on the Beatles’ Apple Recording label.
- My Sweet Lord has appeared on five of George’s albums: All Things Must Pass (1970), The Concert for Bangladesh (1971), The Best of George Harrison (1976), Live in Japan (1992), and Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison (2009).
- After the plagiarism suit, The Chiffons cashed in by releasing a version of My Sweet Lord. Other artists to perform or record My Sweet Lord include: Andy Williams, Edwin Starr, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, Julio Iglesias, Boy George, Megadeth, Jose Feliciano, U2, and Dolly Parton.
- Jonathan King released a version of He’s So Fine with the My Sweet Lord lyrics – or was it the other way around?
- My Sweet Lord lyrics
My Sweet Lord – George Harrison – 1970 video
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