No. 56: George Harrison, ‘My Sweet Lord’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
When George Harrison wrote ‘My Sweet Lord’ in late 1969, the Beatles were still officially together, so Harrison gave the future Top 100 Classic Rock Songs inductee to their friend and Apple Records label mate, Billy Preston.
Five months later, the Beatles had disbanded, and with Preston’s version failing to score much attention, Harrison reclaimed the number and recorded it for his debut solo album ‘All Things Must Pass.’
Though he wasn’t keen on a single getting issued, preferring the undiluted impact of a triple album, ‘My Sweet Lord’ was released in late 1970 and soon thereafter, became an international No. 1 hit.
It was the first song by a former Beatle to soar to the top, and it was the biggest seller of all the singles to be released by any of the four solo Beatles in the ‘70s.
The million-selling single featured some famous Harrison friends — including Preston, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. Still, it’s success was quickly followed by legal controversy. Turns out Harrison’s song sounded a lot like Ronnie Mack’s ‘He’s So Fine,’ which the Chiffons had scored a hit with in 1963. A prolonged copyright infringement suit followed, resulting in the court finding Harrison guilty of “subconsciously” copying the tune.
Regardless, Harrison believed that because ‘My Sweet Lord’ sounded like a pop song, it had the power to sneak up on the listener, and he was right. The song’s numerous “Hallelujah’s” and “Hare Krishna” chants became part of the mainstream, creatively pushed into the culture by an ex-Beatle with a gentle spirit and a slide guitar.
Watch George Harrison Perform ‘My Sweet Lord’