Monday, February 24, 2014

25 Days of Harrison Day 24- Sue Me, Sue You Blues

"My Sweet Lord" was released on George Harrison's first solo album (outside of The Beatles break-up, excluding Wonderwall), All Things Must Pass. The song maybe one of George Harrison's most recognizable songs from his solo career with his "Hare Krishna" and "Hallelujah". The song said being thought of while George was with friends like Billy Preston in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 1969, saying he became conscious of the song after he caught a break from a press conference. It was the following week that Harrison and Preston were back in London to start an album of Preston's that was later issued by The Beatles Apple Records. It was here that the song "My Sweet Lord" was brought into conversation, it was unfinished at this time and George had wanted to finish it, they worked on trying to finish the song.

"My Sweet Lord" was released on George's 1970 album, All Things Must Pass and was released as a single, where it became a number one hit immediately in America. It lasted in charts for fourteen weeks before 10 February, 1971 hit. That was the day that Bright Tunes Music Corp. had filed a lawsuit against George Harrison, Apple Records, BMI, Harrisongs Music, Ltd., Harrisongs Music, Inc., and Hansen Publications for plagiarizing a song written and arranged by Ronald Mack recorded  by the Chiffons in 1962 called "He's So Fine" a widely popular song in the early 1960s, Harrison even had admitted he had listening and knew the song.The following video is the Chiffon's "He's So Fine":

Allen Klein was manager of George at the time, had been since he had became The Beatles second manager after Brian Epstein had passed away. Klein had met with president and stockholder of the Bright Tunes company,  Seymour Barash, in hopes to solve the lawsuit. Klein even recommended that George should just buy the entire Bright Tunes company while Seymour Barah had proposed that Bright Tunes would buy the rights to "My Sweet Lord" having George receiving half of the proceeds that "My Sweet Lord" made and potentially will make.
"I even tried to give "My Sweet Lord" away to get the thing settled - just let 'em have it; it doesn't matter to me." -George says in his autobiography, I Me Mine. He continues to say, 
"I'm concerned the effect the song has had far exceeds any bitching that's been going on between copyright people; it's just greed and jealousy and all that. Give them the song- I don't care. But my lawyers said "Oh no, you can't do that; it's impossible...." So, it drags on, but it's certainly not giving me any sleepless nights."
 After a long fight with Bright Tunes and just a few weeks before the first trial for the case, on January 1976 George Harrison had offered $148,000, which was 40% of the writer and publisher's royalties on the "My Sweet Lord" earning in the United States. It would also say that George would retain the copyright for the song. "A good one" is what Bright attorneys called the offer, but the declined it and raised their demand for half of the Untied States royalties to 75% of the worldwide profits, also to give up the copyrights of the song. While this was all going on Allen Klein and George had had a bit of a falling out, a bitter one too. The Beatles had broken up and the contract was just a few years shy of ending. As George made his "good" offer Klein had returned back to the picture except now trying to purchase Bright Tunes stocks, not for Harrison but for ABKCO. Klein's offer would had put himself in charge of Bright Tune's copyrights and in charge of the lawsuit. Allen Klein had become an insider, giving Bright information about the song, the royalties, the overseas earnings, and his idea of what the song would cost and be worth in the future.  The following video is George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord";

In court experts where called as witnesses, George himself even testified about his writing for the song. The Judge had then found George's "My Sweet Lord" violate Mack's "He's So Fine" copyright. It was also shown in court how "He's So Fine" had two basic musical phases, or Motif A and Motif B. The two songs were foggy mirror of each other but George's consisted of Motif A four times and then Motif B only being used three times, not four. To fill in for the fourth Harrison had a transitional phase. After counting syllables of songs and identifing the songs down to the structure the judge ruled that the songs were 'virtually identical'.  George defended himself saying he didn't intentionally copy the song, but the court had already made the decision that Harrison had improperly used the "He's So Fine" copyright.

Now where was Allen Klein? Allen Klein had pruchased the copyright to "He's So Fine" with ABKCO Industries and with it he had tried neogtiating with George Harrison to sell the song. It was on the 19th of February in the year of 1981 when the court had decided that because of Klein's dishonesty in the case George had to pay $587,000 (the amount Klein paid for the rights for "He's So Fine" from Bright Tunes)  to ABKCO instead of an original $1.6 million Harrison was going to pay. George was given the rights to "He's So Fine".

Although lawsuits aren't always the greatest things, this case happended to lead to George writing "This Song" a song about "My Sweet Lord" and the "He's So Fine" case. With lines many lines about the trails; one that reads,
"This song, There's nothing Bright about it."
The following video is George Harrison's "This Song";

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