- George Harrison faced plagiarism accusations with his No. 1 hit song.
- He stopped listening to the radio after a judge ruled he was guilty of subconscious plagiarism.
- Pattie Boyd, George Harrison’s wife, said the lack of radio made them feel disconnected from reality.
After releasing a successful solo album with All Things Must Pass, George Harrison hit a roadblock when another band accused him of plagiarism. A judge ultimately ruled that Harrison was guilty of subconscious plagiarism, a decision that was costly for the musician. His first wife, Pattie Boyd, said the ruling was hard on Harrison. And afterward, he refused to listen to the radio to avoid a future incident.
‘My Sweet Lord’ was George Harrison’s first No. 1 hit after the Beatles broke up
In 1970, The Beatles went off on separate musical paths. Harrison released the album All Things Must Pass that same year, marking his first solo effort after the breakup. The other members also released solo work, but Harrison was the first to get a No. 1 hit. The song “My Sweet Lord” topped the charts in December 1970.
Soon, though, scandal eclipsed his success. The American band the Chiffons accused Harrison of plagiarizing their 1963 song “He’s So Fine.”
George Harrison stopped listening to the radio to avoid plagiarism
Boyd recalled watching Harrison work on “My Sweet Lord.”
“We spent a lot of time in the kitchen — it was the heart of the house,” she wrote in her book Wonderful Tonight. “I remember George sitting at the table with his guitar, writing the song that became ‘My Sweet Lord.’ When it came out as a single and went to number one, he was taken to court because an American group called the Chiffons recorded a song called ‘He’s So Fine,’ and the song’s music publisher claimed that George had stolen it.”
Harrison attempted to prove to the judge that he hadn’t intentionally stolen the song and that he’d thought of an original melody.
“The judge found him guilty of ‘subconscious plagiarism,’” Boyd wrote. “After that we never had a radio playing in the house in case he was unconsciously influenced by a song he had heard.”
Pattie Boyd revealed the impact of not listening to the radio
According to Boyd, both she and Harrison grew disconnected from reality, and the lack of radio music in their home was a contributing factor. On top of that, they didn’t keep newspapers in the home and avoided going out. Harrison didn’t like when fans recognized him, which kept him at home.
“George really didn’t like going out — he hated being recognized — so we stayed in that great house and became gradually detached from reality,” she wrote. “We didn’t listen to the radio because George wouldn’t let us, and we didn’t have newspapers, and the people who came to see us were either musicians or worked for Apple.”
The sense of detachment spread to Boyd and Harrison’s relationship. After years of struggling through an increasingly fractured marriage, the couple finalized their divorce in 1977.