Classic Rock

Why John Lennon Thought George Harrison Was A Flop

todayApril 3, 2024

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The Beatles, the iconic band that redefined music and has become a cultural phenomenon, is a group so tight they finished each other’s sentences (musically, at least). But even within this legendary brotherhood, tensions arose.

John Lennon, the outspoken and often abrasive leader, once threw some serious shade at his bandmate, George Harrison. Lennon, known for his cutting wit, declared that Harrison’s music had lost its edge. 

This begs the question: Was Lennon simply ribbing his friend, or did he genuinely believe Harrison’s career was on a downward spiral? In this article, we’ll explore the context behind this comment, analyze Harrison’s solo work, and see if Lennon’s critique held any water.

Was George Harrison Out of Touch?

Lennon, in a 1975 interview featured in the book Lennon on Lennon: Conversations With John Lennon, shared his thoughts on a Harrison live show.

While Lennon didn’t explicitly say the performance was bad, he did imply a lack of impact. He pointed out the fickle nature of fame, where artists are seen as “in” or “out” based on public opinion. “George is out for the moment. And I think it didn’t matter what he did on tour,” John declared.

Lennon compared this trend to The Beatles’ own experience. He argued that for every successful period, there were less popular ones. He then applied this idea to George, suggesting the public, including the media, had simply moved on.

According to Lennon, this public shift in perception meant that regardless of Harrison’s performance quality, he wouldn’t be met with the same level of enthusiasm.

Harrison’s Extra Texture Did Not Fare Well

Harrison’s 1975 album, Extra Texture (Read All About It), achieved a respectable showing but didn’t quite reach the heights of his previous works. It peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart and stayed there for 11 weeks.While not a commercial failure, it fell short of the success of albums like All Things Must Pass or Cloud Nine.

The album spawned two singles: “You” and “This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying)”. “You” managed a slightly better performance, reaching No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and lasting ten weeks.

“This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying)”, however, failed to make the chart altogether. This might be surprising considering the title seemed to play on the popularity of Harrison’s iconic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

The music industry is a fickle beast, with unexpected hits emerging from various eras. Tracks like Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” (originally released in 2011) or Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” (from 1985) finding new life in the 2020s demonstrate this. Perhaps “You”, “This Guitar”, or another track from Extra Texture could experience a similar resurgence in popularity someday.

There’s No Bad Blood, Of Course

Lennon’s critique of Harrison’s live show in the 1975 interview doesn’t paint the whole picture of their relationship. While John expressed reservations about George’s musical direction, there wasn’t any underlying animosity. The interview revealed a more nuanced dynamic between the former bandmates.

John’s reaction to George’s unwillingness to perform with Paul McCartney showcased a surprising level of understanding. He acknowledged George’s right to express his opinion, even adding a playful jab about potentially changing his mind soon. 

This lightheartedness suggests John didn’t take George’s stance personally. John further emphasized their shared humanity by stating, “You know, we’re all human, we can all change our minds.”

John’s closing statement, “If we’re gonna play, we’re just gonna play,” reinforces this idea. He separates personal opinions from the potential for a reunion. Even if their commercial success wasn’t at its peak, John seemed open to playing with George again, suggesting their bond transcended the music industry’s metrics.

Written by: Best Classic Bands Staff

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