George Harrison regretted being caught on plagiarism charges
George Harrison became perhaps the most successful member of The Beatles to build a solo career after the band broke up in 1970. That same year, he released his third solo record, All Things Must Past, the album that would become on their best known and most successful album. most successful. On November 23, 1970, Harrison released his first single from the album, My Sweet Lord, but four months later, he was accused of massive plagiarism.
By February 10, 1971, My Sweet Lord had become a huge hit, reaching number one on the singles charts around the world and selling millions of copies in several countries. It was later claimed that My Sweet Lord was a copy of the 1963 song He’s So Fine by the American girl band The Chiffons.
Harrison admitted that the songs were extremely similar in tone and structure and, for the next ten years, struggled to prove that it was not an intentional display of plagiarism.
On this day, February 19, 1981, Harrison was finally ordered to pay a staggering $587,000 (approximately $2 million in 2023) for the plagiarism of He’s So Fine.
Writing in his memoir (I, Me, Mine), Harrison spoke candidly about the stress this lawsuit had on his life.
“That’s when I thought,” Harrison said, “‘Why didn’t I notice?’ It would have been very easy to change a note here or there, and not affect the feel of the record.”
Things were made even worse by who had sued Harrison in the first place: Allen Klein.
Klein was the former manager of The Beatles. He had been fired by Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon before the band broke up.
He ended up buying the struggling music publisher, Bright Tunes. This company also owned He’s So Fine and thus brought charges against Harrison’s plagiarism.
Klein requested the exorbitant sum of $1.6 million from Harrison for the editing of My Sweet Lord.
After the legal trial began in February 1976, Klein and his company fought Harrison to get the money from him.
Ultimately, the court decided the fee of $587,000, the sum for which Klein had originally purchased the song from Bright Tunes in 1978.
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