George on SNL

In 1976, George Harrison paid a visit to Saturday Night Live, as his friend Paul Simon served as host.

Harrison and Simon performed together on acoustic guitars, singing “Here Comes the Sun” and “Homeward Bound”.

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Harrison also premiered two music videos featuring songs from his new album 33 and 1/3. This was the era before MTV, so these were called promotional films, produced on film stock with limited creativity and budgets. There was a small outlet for these films, but that would change in the next decade.

The first of the films was “Crackerbox Palace,” an upbeat rocker, it was filmed at Harrison’s own Friar Park estate and directed by Monty Python’s Eric Idle. The other film clip was “This Song”.

The previous season on SNL, producer Lorne, offered members of the Beatles $3,000 to reform on SNL. It was a joke, as there were million dollar offers from the Beatles to perform together again. The Beatles had turned down those offers.

In the skit, Michaels deadpanned that the Beatles could divide up the $3,000 equally, or give Ringo less, that was up to them.

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For Harrison’s appearance, he opened the show with Michaels, as he tried to collect the $3,000 for himself, but Michaels reminded Harrison that the offer was for all four, not just one.

The year 1976 proved to be a comeback year for Harrison who had suffered through two very difficult years.

In 1974, Harrison recorded the Dark Horse album, during which he suffered laryngitis, which you can hear the roughness of his voice on the several songs. He also mounted his first solo tour, which was the first former Beatle to tour America.  His voice was in bad shape, and was compounded by his decision to use Indian musicians as his opening act, and his choice to re-work versions of his songs for the tour. Critics were merciless and many fans agreed.

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Harrison on tour

Elsewhere, Harrison’s life was coming apart as his marriage to Patti Boyd ended, as she left Harrison for Eric Clapton. Harrison had stepped away from his spiritual life to have affairs of his own while indulging in a heady intake of alcohol and cocaine.

Harrison was also prepping his own record label, involved in ongoing Beatles litigation, and was sued for copyright infringement over his hit “My Sweet Lord”.

In September 1975, Harrison’s last album under his Beatles contract, Extra Texture, was released to lukewarm critical and commercial success.  This is called Harrison’s soul album because it has a decidedly R&B vibe to it.

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The album was also very introspective, but not his usual spirit reflection, more a product of the previous year, both personally and professionally. The album was panned by critics, but sold respectfully, and “You” was a minor hit.

Also during this time was was a trial over the similarity of “My Sweet Lord” and “He’s So Fine”.  In the background, the Beatles manager, Allen Klein, tried to purchase the copyright for “He’s So Fine”, not for Harrison, but for himself. The dastardly Klein was forced by the court to sell the copyright to Harrison.

The album 33 and 1/3 was more upbeat and signaled a creative and personal comeback giphyfor Harrison. “This Song” was a parody, a success one, of the journey of creating a song that was safe from a copyright suit.

His personal life improved with his new relationship with Olivia Arias, who marry Harrison in 1978.

“Here Comes the Sun” was a suitable song for Harrison to play with Simon.  The darkness seemed to lift, it seemed like years since it’s been here, at least for Harrison.


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