In 1969, The Beatles were writing and recording what would be their last album: Let It Be. The band’s thirteenth and final album became synonymous with the end of the Fab Four, as they later broke up shortly after its release. But before that, guitarist George Harrison left the band in the middle of recording a song.
The moment came during the recording of the song Two of Us by The Beatles. After the lunch break, Harrison returned and announced, “I think I’ll be leaving the band now.” He nonchalantly added: “See you at the clubs.”
Harrison had been furious in recent days and weeks when John Lennon and Paul McCartney pushed aside his ideas and notions. While the songwriting duo were the primary scribes for The Beatles, Harrison insisted that his voice was also worth listening to.
He also placed a lot of blame on McCartney. He said: “At the time, Paul couldn’t see past himself. He was on a roll, but…in his mind, everything going on around him was there to accompany him. He wasn’t sensitive to stepping on egos or feelings from other persons”.
Eventually things became too much for him.
Harrison had enough after being ignored and denied so many times. “He was so sick of the bad vibes,” he told Musician magazine. “I didn’t care if it was the Beatles, I was leaving.
So his driver took him back to his home in Surrey and he started writing music.
That same day, Harrison wrote his theme song Wah-Wah. The song was later included on his third solo studio album, All Things Must Pass.
The brutal song featured such damning lyrics as: “I don’t need wah-wah / And I know how sweet life can be / If I stay free / wah-wah.”
Harrison later spoke candidly about the song and how it was aimed squarely at his former bandmates.
Harrison admitted that the song was named after the wah pedal used to play the guitar. But it was also a statement from him to Lennon and McCartney. In his bio, he revealed that it meant: “You’re giving me a terrible headache.”
He also talked about writing music on his own versus working with The Beatles. He confessed: “There was too much restriction [in The Beatles]. He had to self-destruct… He could see a much better time ahead being alone, away from the band… It was like a straitjacket.”
While Harrison was away working on his own music, Lennon and McCartney were deciding who they should replace him with. After all, they still had a whole album to finish.
Lennon told Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg: “I think if George doesn’t come back on Monday or Tuesday, we’ll ask Eric Clapton to play. We should carry on as if nothing happened.”
While Harrison eventually returned to The Beatles, his wife at the time, Pattie Boyd, confirmed that he was “not happy” with the situation.
She revealed: “Like a little brother, [Harrison] was pushed into the background. He would come home after recording and he was full of anger. It was a very bad state he was in. The Beatles made him unhappy, with the constant arguments. They were vicious with each other. That was really upsetting.”
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