George Harrison Revealed The Beatles Stole a Bit of a Stereos Hit for 1 of Their First Songs

George Harrison once revealed that The Beatles stole a bit of a Stereos hit for one of their first songs.

In 1971, Bright Tunes Music sued George for copyright infringement for his 1970 song “My Sweet Lord.” However, he denied he’d consciously copied the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” So, George knew a lot about subconsciously copying a song. He also knew that artists couldn’t help adding bits of their favorite songs into their own music.

The Beatles on a TV special in 1963.
The Beatles performing in 1963 | Fox Photos/Getty Images

George Harrison said The Beatles stole bits of their favorite music in all their songs

When rock ‘n’ roll started, many artists, including Elvis Presley and The Beatles, used their many influences to form their music. They wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without their idols. However, sometimes newer artists blurred the lines between copying and being influenced.

In 1992, George told Timothy White for Goldmine that sometimes the music that goes into a musician’s head has to come out in some form. That’s how most of The Beatles’ music came about.

“I’ve had a lot of songs borrowed in bits and pieces here and there,” George said. “But it depends on how it’s done. And also sometimes it’s like, ‘Aww, well, that’s the nature of music.’ Really, it’s that everything that goes in your head must come out some way.

“All the chords every Beatles song ever written, was based upon all the chords and structures of other songs that we’ve ever heard. I can quote you so many Beatles songs that John and Paul wrote in which I can tell you the exact songs that they came from.”

George said The Beatles stole parts of a Stereos hit for one of their earlier songs

The Beatles stole many bits of their idol’s music over the years. They did it the most in their earlier music.

In 1987, George told White at Musician Magazine that The Beatles stole parts of a Stereos hit called “I Really Love You” for one of their earliest songs. He later recorded his own version of the song on his 1982 album, Gone Troppo.

“And if you remember that song then I’ll tell you that The Beatles wrote a song that I think was actually a nick, a bit of a pitch off that one,” George said. “It was a song that John wrote and I sang on the very first Beatle album called ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret.’

“If you check that against the song you’re referring to on ‘Troppo,’ that’s round two of where ‘Secret’ came from. It’s a fun track.”

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George on his copyright infringement lawsuit

In 1971, Bright Tunes sued George. The former Beatles had to defend that he didn’t steal “He’s So Fine” for “My Sweet Lord.”

George wrote in his memoir, I Me Mine, “I wasn’t consciously aware of the similarity between ‘He’s So Fine’ and ‘My Sweet Lord’ when I wrote the song, as it was more improvised and not so fixed.

“Although when my version of the song came out and started to get a lot of airplay, people started talking about it, and it was then I thought, ‘Why didn’t I realize?’ It would have been very easy to change a note here or there, and not affect the feeling of the record.”

In 1976, Judge Richard Owen of the United States District Court declared that George had “subconsciously” copied “He’s So Fine.”

“I don’t feel guilty or bad about it,” George wrote. It’s like he said; some of the music swirling in his head had to come out somehow.