Saturday, December 26, 1970

George Harrison hit #1 with “My Sweet Lord”

My Sweet Lord

George Harrison

Writer(s): George Harrison (see lyrics here)


First Charted: November 28, 1970


Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 10 AC, 1 CL, 16 UK, 14 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.94 UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 124.1 video, 280.84 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

While George Harrison’s songwriting talents were overshadowed during his stint with the Beatles by bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney, TB he was the first to have a hit as an ex-Beatle. RS500 That song, “My Sweet Lord,” was nearly given away – and it was later claimed to have never belonged to Harrison in the first place.

Harrison originally gave the song to Billy Preston, who was due to release a single of the song in September 1970. When it was withdrawn, Harrison released his own version. BR Harrison had wanted to write an uplifting song and turned to the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day” for inspiration. Wary of committing to a specific religious belief, HL Harrison came up with what he called “a simple idea of how to do a Western pop equivalent of a mantra, which repeats holy names over and over again.’” HL

The result was a “hook…as catchy as anything he ever came up with in The Beatles.” BBC However, publishers of the 1963 Chiffons’ hit “He’s So Fine” felt like the hook wasn’t Harrison’s to use and sued him for copyright infringement. BBC A March 6, 1971 article in Billboard magazine confirmed that Harrison’s royalties had been halted worldwide until the case was settled. BR

It wasn’t until 1976 BBC that a judge ruled that George was innocent of stealing KL-168-9 but was guilty of “unconscious plagiarism.” BBC Bright Tunes music got more than a half million dollars from the settlement. SF George has responded saying, “I still don’t understand how the courts aren’t filled with similar cases…as 99 per cent of popular music is reminiscent of something or other.” HL


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for George Harrison
  • DMDB page for parent album All Things Must Pass
  • BBC BBC Radio 2 (2004). “Sold on Song Top 100
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 286.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 59.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 122.

Last updated 4/28/2021.

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