The song George Harrison wrote after being screamed at by Yoko Ono

ould arise when you’ve got two equally talented songwriters jostling for supremacy over The Beatles’ immaculate output, let alone three.

But with John Lennon and Paul McCartney to contend with, George Harrison seldom got a look in.

Though, given The Beatles were the most famous and influential musical group throughout the sixties, all eyes were on them. Almost always.

So when frictions between the four-piece were aired, it sent ripples of worry throughout their fanbase and the wider world.

Naturally creative disputes would arise when you’ve got two equally talented songwriters jostling for supremacy over The Beatles’ immaculate output, let alone three.

But with John Lennon and Paul McCartney to contend with, George Harrison seldom got a look in.

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The song George Harrison wrote on the day he quit The Beatles
14 June 2024, 14:14

The day he quit The Beatles, George Harrison went home and wrote a song that’d become one of his most beloved solo tracks.

The day he quit The Beatles, George Harrison went home and wrote a song that’d become one of his most beloved solo tracks. Picture: Getty
By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

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Like all bands, they had their feuds.

Though, given The Beatles were the most famous and influential musical group throughout the sixties, all eyes were on them. Almost always.

So when frictions between the four-piece were aired, it sent ripples of worry throughout their fanbase and the wider world.

Naturally creative disputes would arise when you’ve got two equally talented songwriters jostling for supremacy over The Beatles’ immaculate output, let alone three.

But with John Lennon and Paul McCartney to contend with, George Harrison seldom got a look in.

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During the filming of the 1970 documentary Let It Be – and later Peter Jackson’s revisionist documentary Get Back which restored the original footage – George’s frustration would come to a head.

With the four members seemingly struggling to be in the same room together, it was Paul McCartney’s uncompromising creative vision which pushed everyone else to the margins.

Whilst John didn’t seem too bothered, and Ringo Starr focusing on a concurrent acting career, George felt he was wasting his time. So he quit the band.

The day he quit The Beatles, George went home and wrote a song that’d become one of his most beloved solo tracks.

On 10th January 1969, George would turn his back on The Beatles, finding Paul’s megalomaniacal attitude unbearable.

 

As we know, his quitting would only last temporarily, as George was convinced to rejoin shortly after.

 

Thankfully he did. Rock folklore wouldn’t have been the same if The Beatles had pulled off the iconic ‘rooftop concert’ without George in tow.

 

Harrison put his frayed temper to good use, putting his annoyance onto paper by writing ‘Wah-Wah’.

 

And yes, the barbed lyrics are very much pointed in the direction of his then-bandmates (and Yoko) and their incessant squabbling.

 

 

Wah-Wah (2014 Remaster)

 

 

“That was the song, when I left from the Let It Be movie, there’s a scene where Paul and I are having an argument, and we’re trying to cover it up,” Harrison later recalled in an interview with Crawdaddy magazine.

 

“Then the next scene I’m not there and Yoko’s just screaming, doing her screeching number.”

 

“Well, that’s where I’d left, and I went home to write ‘Wah-Wah’. It had given me a wah-wah, like I had such a headache with that whole argument. It was such a headache.”

 

George wasn’t the first of The Beatles to leave the group – that was Ringo during the sessions for the White Album, though he never wrote a song about his chagrin.

On 10th January 1969, George would turn his back on The Beatles, finding Paul’s megalomaniacal attitude unbearable.

As we know, his quitting would only last temporarily, as George was convinced to rejoin shortly after.

Thankfully he did. Rock folklore wouldn’t have been the same if The Beatles had pulled off the iconic ‘rooftop concert’ without George in tow.

Harrison put his frayed temper to good use, putting his annoyance onto paper by writing ‘Wah-Wah’.

And yes, the barbed lyrics are very much pointed in the direction of his then-bandmates (and Yoko) and their incessant squabbling.

Wah-Wah (2014 Remaster)

“That was the song, when I left from the Let It Be movie, there’s a scene where Paul and I are having an argument, and we’re trying to cover it up,” Harrison later recalled in an interview with Crawdaddy magazine.

“Then the next scene I’m not there and Yoko’s just screaming, doing her screeching number.”

“Well, that’s where I’d left, and I went home to write ‘Wah-Wah’. It had given me a wah-wah, like I had such a headache with that whole argument. It was such a headache.”

George wasn’t the first of The Beatles to leave the group – that was Ringo during the sessions for the White Album, though he never wrote a song about his chagrin.

‘Wah-Wah’ eventually featured on George’s now-iconic 1970 debut album, All Things Must Pass, and is rightly one of his more enduring songs.

Though he only performed it live a couple of times, both of which were at the Concert For Bangladesh.

Concert For Bangladesh was the first-ever charity concert which George organised at New York City’s Madison Square Garden with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston and Ringo all joining him on stage.

That’s not the only Clapton connection ‘Wah-Wah’ either – Derek and the Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock recorded ‘Wah-Wah’ with Harrison before his musical venture with Eric.

“I was the last one to show up at the session – I was running late and my car went down on me. It was getting started, I walked in and Phil Spector said, ‘Phase those drums! Phase those guitars!'”, Whitlock recalled.

“He’s standing there looking out like he’s the captain of a ship, and he says, ‘Phase everything!’ A guy had to operate this phase shifter by hand, his name was Eddie Albert, and he had to work it by twisting this knob to the left, to the right, to the left, to the right.”

“You had to do it manually then. He’s saying, ‘Phase this, phase that,’ I come in, I’m late and Billy Preston’s sitting down at the organ, [Procol Harum singer] Gary Brooker is on the piano, where’s my spot? Everything was on the downbeat.”

“I said, ‘I’ve got it, give me that little piano over there, I’ve got my part.’ I played everything that nobody was playing – I played on the upbeat. That’s me on the electric piano playing the exact opposite.”

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