John Lennon Said George Harrison Looked Like an ‘Asthmatic Leon Russell’ on the Cover of ‘All Things Must Pass’

John Lennon wasn’t kind toward George Harrison after The Beatles broke up. None of The Beatles were toward each other. However, John was especially brutal after George released All Things Must Pass. George already had several insecurities recording the triple album. He didn’t need the negative opinions of his fellow bandmate to make things worse.

After some reassuring, though, George didn’t care what anyone thought of the now seven-times platinum album. He knew it was great.

George Harrison and John Lennon talking to the press in Bangor following the death of their manager, Brian Epstein.
George Harrison and John Lennon | Stephen Shakeshaft/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

John Lennon said George Harrison looked like an ‘asthmatic Leon Russell’ on the cover of ‘All Things Must Pass’

After The Beatles disbanded, there was a lot of tension between the former bandmates. George had no problem with Ringo Starr. The drummer actually played on most of All Things Must Pass. However, there was a bit of hostility between George, John, and Paul McCartney.

During a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, John said George’s album was “all right.” He added, “I don’t know… I think it’s all right, you know. Personally, at home, I wouldn’t play that kind of music, I don’t want to hurt George’s feelings, I don’t know what to say about it. I think it’s better than Paul’s.”

At least John thought All Things Must Pass was somewhat good. As for Paul’s record, not so much. “I thought Paul’s was rubbish,” John said. “I think he’ll make a better one, when he’s frightened into it. But I thought that first one was just a lot of… Remember what I told you when it came out? ‘Light and easy,’ You know that crack.

“But then I listen to the radio and I hear George’s stuff coming over, well then it’s pretty bloody good. My personal tastes are very strange, you know.”

John had contradictory views of All Things Must Pass. However, there was no disputing John’s feelings about the album’s cover. George relayed John’s sentiments to Crawdaddy in 1977.

“I remember John was really negative at the time, but I was away and he came ’round to my house, and there was a friend of mine living there who was a friend of John’s,” George said. “He saw the album cover and said, ‘He must be f***ing bad, putting three records out. And look at the picture on the front, he looks like an asthmatic Leon Russell.’ There was a lot of negativity going down.”

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George didn’t care if ‘All Things Must Pass’ flopped or not

While recording All Things Must Pass, George was insecure. He thought that the musicians helping him would think the songs were bad. That stemmed from years of John, Paul, and even The Beatles’ producer, George Martin, acting condescendingly toward him and his songs.

However, those insecurities dissolved when George’s song blew everyone in the studio away.

“It was a really nice experience making that album — because I was really a bit paranoid, musically,” George told Crawdaddy. “I remember having those people in the studio and thinking, ‘God, these songs are so fruity!’ I’d play it to them and they’d say, ‘Wow, yeah! Great song!’ And I’d say, ‘Really? Do you really like it?’ I realized that it was OK.”

After that reassurance, George knew the album was good, whatever anyone else said. He didn’t care if it flopped. “I felt that whatever happened, whether it was a flop or a success, I was gonna go on my own just to have a bit of peace of mind,” George said.

George wasn’t apprehensive about it at all. “I felt it was good music, whether people bought it or not. I was concerned that the musicians who played on it were concerned. It was good. Even before I started I knew I was gonna make a good album because I had so many songs and I had so much energy. For me to do my own album after all that– it was joyous. Dream of dreams.”

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George’s son, Dhani, said John might have had an oops moment concerning his comments about the album

Calling All Things Must Pass “all right” is strange, especially considering the album featured the first No. 1 single by an ex-Beatle (“My Sweet Lord”). John didn’t get a No. 1 hit until 1974, with his and Elton John’s “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.”

By 1973, the triple album had also sold more copies than John’s Imagine. Many also consider it to be the most successful album by an ex-Beatle. Not bad, considering George only recorded it as a reaction to leaving The Beatles.

Still, George’s son, Dhani, thinks John’s comment on the album was a huge oops moment. During an interview with Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music Hits (per NME), Dhani talked about John’s criticism of All Things Must Pass.

Wilkinson pointed to an interview with Bobby Whitlock, who said, “I remember Lennon coming to the studio during the recording sessions quite friendly and being played it, and he was visibly blown away.”

Dhani responded, “Yeah, I mean, how could you not be, especially for The Beatles, I think, to be like… There might’ve been an oops moment. Like, ‘Oops. S***. Maybe that song was good.’

“But I think they were all just very happy for each other,” he continued. “How could you not be happy if you had a bandmate who left your band and then went and did that? How could you not be happy for them?

“I’ve never really talked to Paul or Ringo about ‘All Things Must Pass.’ It’s one of those things that’s still mysterious to everyone.”

Any negative comments about All Things Must Pass or any of his other albums didn’t phase George. He made music because he liked doing it; if people liked it, that was a bonus. George was happy no matter what.

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