“He knew what he was doing”: Did John Lennon Betray His Beatles Bandmate George Harrison After Plagiarism Accusations Threatened His Best Work?

John Lennon didn't side with George Harrison after the My Sweet Lord controversy.

“He knew what he was doing”: Did John Lennon Betray His Beatles Bandmate George Harrison After Plagiarism Accusations Threatened His Best Work?


  • My Sweet Lord was the first single from George Harrison’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass.
  • The song was an instant hit, but it also attracted accusations of plagiarism in Harrison's direction.
  • Beatles legend John Lennon did not back his former bandmate during the controversy.
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The Beatles are one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison joined hands in 1960 in Liverpool and forever changed the face of music. The Beatles did for popular music what Star Trek did for the science fiction genre.

The Beatles
The Beatles.

However, despite enjoying unprecedented levels of fame and success together, the quartet apparently didn’t enjoy each other’s company very much. Their fractured relationships really came to the fore in their separate interviews and comments about each other. At one point, Lennon refused to back Harrison when he was accused of plagiarism.

Read more: “I think we all listened to each other’s stuff”: Paul McCartney Revealed John Lennon’s One Album That Riled Him Up After Beatles Breakup


What John Lennon Said When George Harrison Faced Plagiarism Accusations

The four talented musicians became a leading force in the development of 1960s counterculture, and smashed countless Billboard charts records that stand strong to this day. But at the height of the Beatlemania pandemonium, the band shocked the world by walking their separate ways in the early 70s.

The Beatles
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison.

From creative differences to John Lennon‘s relationship with Yoko Ono to money problems, different reasons have been used at different places, and times, to explain the breakup of The Beatles. However, one thing has always been clear, the quartet weren’t each other’s biggest fans. Considering how they spoke about each other suggests it’s a miracle they sat together and wrote the most iconic musical script in the form of the Beatles.

Among the many such instances, John Lennon’s reaction toward George Harrison facing plagiarism accusations still surprises many fans.


Harrison released his first song as a solo artist in 1970, titled My Sweet Lord. The song, which was part of the album All Things Must Pass, became an instant hit, topping charts worldwide. The popularity of My Sweet Lord was followed by serious accusations of plagiarism. Bright Tunes Music planned to sue the former Beatle for plagiarism, claiming his song sounded too familiar to The Chiffons’ He’s So Fine, which was released in 1963,

Despite their separation, one might have imagined the Beatles would stand together in this situation. However, Lennon sided with the claim that The Chiffons had been wronged. During one of his interviews (via Far Out Magazine), the Imagine singer was asked about the battle, to which he replied: “Well, he walked right into it. He knew what he was doing.”

Lennon added: “He must have known, you know, he’s smarter than that. It’s irrelevant, actually — only on a monetary level does it matter.”


In 1976, a trial concluded that Harrison did not deliberately copy My Sweet Lord, but he was still found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism.” The judge ruled that the former Beatle should pay $1.6 million in compensation.

Read more: “I don’t believe in Zimmerman”: John Lennon Openly Humiliated Bob Dylan, Called Him “Bullsh*t”

How John Lennon Saw the Youngest Beatle, George Harrison

The dynamic between Harrison and Lennon was rocky from the very beginning. In 1958, Paul McCartney championed for Harrison to join the Quarrymen, a band he was part of with Lennon.

John Lennon on The Dick Cavett Show
John Lennon on The Dick Cavett Show.

The guitarist was much younger than Lennon. As such, despite impressing his bandmates with his talents, he struggled to build any rapport with Lennon, who thought Harrison was too young to be in the group.

The Quiet Beatle once confessed (via Beatles Radio): “I think [John] did feel a bit embarrassed about that because I was so tiny. I only looked about ten years old.”

Regardless, they continued to work together, and the Quarrymen evolved into the Beatles. The rest, as they say, is history!


Written by Vishal Singh

Articles Published: 514

Vishal Singh is a Content Writer at FandomWire. Having spent more than half a decade in the digital media space, Vishal specializes in crafting engaging entertainment- and sports-focused stories. He graduated from university with an honors degree in English Literature.