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John Lennon was asked about the controversy surrounding George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” John replied that the song was plagiarized from a 1960s hit. Subsequently, John discussed what he thought of George as a person.

The Beatles' John Lennon and George Harrison standing
The Beatles’ John Lennon and George Harrison | Keystone Features/Getty Images

John Lennon said George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ plagiarism controversy was ‘irrelevant’

According to Stereogum, Bright Tunes sued George because of the similarities between “My Sweet Lord” and The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” Ultimately, Bright Tunes won the lawsuit.

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono is an interview from 1980. In it, John was asked about the “He’s So Fine” case. “Well, he walked right into it,” John said. “He knew what he was doing.”

John was asked if George consciously plagiarized “My Sweet Lord.” “He must have known, you know,” John said. “He’s smarter than that. It’s irrelevant, actually — only on a monetary level does it matter.”

John Lennon discussed what the quiet Beatle could have done to avoid controversy

John discussed his own relationship to plagiarism. “In the early years, I’d often carry around someone else’s song in my head, and only when I’d put it down on tape — because I can’t write music — would I consciously change it to my own melody because I knew that otherwise somebody would sue me,” John added.

“George could have changed a few bars in that song and nobody could have ever touched him, but he just let it go and paid the price,” John continued. “Maybe he thought God would just sort of let him off.”

John said he had nothing against George. “I’d like to clarify that,” he said. “You see, I am slightly resentful of George’s book, but don’t get me wrong — I still love those guys. The Beatles are over, but John, Paul, George, and Ringo go on.” John was referring to George’s book I, Me, Mine.


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How George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

For four weeks, “My Sweet Lord” topped the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed on the chart for 14 weeks in total. George included “My Sweet Lord” on the album All Things Must Pass, which was No. 1 for seven of its 41 weeks on the Billboard 200.

The Official Charts Company reports “My Sweet Lord” was No. 1 for five of its 17 weeks on the chart in the 1970s. The song became popular again following George’s death in 2001. After he died, it was No. 1 for one of its 14 weeks on the chart. Meanwhile, All Things Must Pass topped the U.K. chart for eight weeks, staying on the chart for 32 weeks altogether.

“My Sweet Lord” was a huge hit even if John said George plagiarized it.