Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you will have heard about and hopefully seen Peter Jackson’s all-revealing 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back. The project brought us closer to the Fab Four than ever before during the intimate and often fractious recording sessions for the band’s final album, Let It Be.
The footage was taken over the course of 21 days in the studio (first in Twickenham, then later in the basement of Apple Corps.), where the band were creating new material for their upcoming album. The material was also to be showcased in a special public performance. Throughout the documentary, there are numerous discussions and arguments over where the special live performance should take place. Eventually, they decide that it should be held on the roof of Apple Corps.
Throughout the recording sessions, The Beatles are seen to be fraying at the seams, with bickering a common feature throughout and George Harrison storming out in the middle of a session. After the famous Rooftop Concert, we left The Beatles for the last time in Peter Jackson’s documentary. Evidently, relations between the four continued to worsen over the following few months until the ultimate break-up of the band in April 1970.
While the location of the live performance was the subject of hot debate throughout the archival footage, much deeper tensions were brewing. As history dictates, none of the four were particularly happy in the final days of The Beatles, but Harrison was certainly the least satisfied.
In The Beatles: Get Back, Harrison can be seen squabbling with Paul McCartney on several occasions, and at one point, he even decides to pack his bags and walk out, stating: “I’m going to quit the band now.” Despite this episode, the documentary shows the four enjoying each other’s company most of the time.
With the final frosty break-up just a few months after the documentary cuts off, it’s apparent that the squabbling we saw was just the tip of a sizable iceberg.
Harrison’s wife at the time later revealed some of his thoughts and feelings at this testing juncture for The Beatles. She explained that Harrison saw McCartney “as difficult”. She elaborated, “They would tolerate each other, but I think George basically didn’t like Paul’s personality. I just think they really didn’t love each other.”
The four were ostensibly feeling a great deal of pressure in the run-up to the rooftop concert because time wasn’t on their side. It seems that this added pressure may have led to some of the more damaging of McCartney’s criticisms, but all the same, Harrison was deeply affected by the way he was treated.
“The Beatles made him unhappy,” Boyd recalled. “With the constant arguments. They were vicious to each other. That was really upsetting.” She added that it was “even more so” upsetting because of Harrison’s new spiritual awakening with the Hare Krishna movement. The movement was a branch of the Hindu faith and taught Harrison to search for inner peace and harmony. This was hardly something he could achieve with The Beatles in their state at the time.
Boyd finally explained that the youngest Beatle felt he was being sidelined by the rest of the band. “Like a little brother, he was pushed into the background,” she said. “He would come home from recording and be full of anger. It was a very bad state that he was in.”
Just a few months after The Beatles released their final album in 1970, Harrison released his first solo single, ‘My Sweet Lord’. It dropped on November 23rd, 1970, and shot straight to number one. With that, Harrison became the first former Beatle to achieve a number one hit as a solo artist.