George Harrison had a hard time with The Beatles. He was particularly ill-equipped to deal with the weight of their success – the interviews, the Beatlemania, the stadium shows – they all made him anxious, stressed and paranoid. The sheer immensity of The Beatles’ stardom would have landed any other group of lads in their early twenties in a mental institution, but somehow The Beatles managed to emerge intact.
Like Harrison, McCartney, Lennon and Starr didn’t quite know how to deal with this newfound success so they tackled it together, as friends. But as the years passed and they developed a greater sense of individuality away from the ‘fab four’ dynamic, they found themselves less and less able to relate to one another, something that reached a head during the recording of their 12th and final studio album Let It Be.
It was a strange decision to allow a documentary crew into the rehearsal room. Part of the reason The Beatles had decided to stop performing live and retreat into the studio was to remove themselves from the incessant inquiry of the outside world. Yet, here they were, inviting the outside world into the studio when they were already on the cusp of implosion. Is it any wonder Harrison hated the documentary?
In 1987, George Harrison had established himself as an incredibly successful solo act, meaning that he was able to look back on his time with The Beatles with a sense of perspective. In an interview that same year, Harrison was asked about the numerous Beatles films that the group made throughout their career, making it clear that he had no qualms about A Hard Day’s Night and Help! but that he couldn’t bear to watch Let It Be. In his eyes, the film was intended to capture the way The Beatles put their songs together in the studio. What it ended up capturing, however, was something far more unpleasant.
“That, you know, I didn’t like,” Harrison explained, having referred to the film as Let It Rot. “There’s scenes in it-on the roof, that was quite good, and there’s bits and pieces that’s OK, but most of it just makes me so aggravated that I can’t watch it. Because it was a particularly bad experience that we were having at that time, and it’s bad enough when you’re having it, let alone having it filmed and recorded so that you get to watch it for the rest of your life. I don’t like it,” he concluded.
For the wider public world, Let It Be is a fascinating insight into the daily conflicts of a band who, the next year, would go their separate ways. But for Harrison, it contained something he would have much preferred to leave in the past.