We’re not going to sit here and pretend to be experts on the power structure of The Beatles. But Part 1 of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back three-part docuseries depicts a frustrated George Harrison quitting the band out of frustration with Paul McCartney’s direction.
Unbelievably, Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s cameras captured the moment. What’s even harder to believe is how relaxed George Harrison seemed about such a momentous decision. If you walked to the kitchen for a second during the episode, you’d have missed it entirely.
After a minor spat over the musical arrangement of the band’s song “Get Back,” wherein George held his tongue nearly the entire time, The Beatles’ guitarist simply stood and said, “Well, I think I’ll be leaving the band now.”
Just like that, he quit The Beatles. According to Peter Jackson’s on-screen text, George Harrison even jotted it down in his diary casually.
“Got up, went to Twickenham, rehearsed until lunch time—left the Beatles—went home,” Harrison wrote, per the Disney+ docuseries.
Of course, the calm nature of George Harrison’s walkout might be explained by his return to the band a few days later. Fans of The Beatles know the sessions included in Get Back yielded the Let It Be album. And not long after, the group recorded Abbey Road. So The Beatles released two full albums as a group following the moment that Harrison “quit.”
But whatever motivated George Harrison’s departure, it seems to have accomplished something. Parts 2 and 3 of the docuseries show the weeks following the dramatic moment, and the band appears as friendly and productive as ever.
Was George Harrison the Most Underappreciated Member of The Beatles?
Many fans of the iconic rock group have long speculated that Harrison was perhaps the most underappreciated band member. Not necessarily by those on the outside, but by the songwriting duo of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
The pair admitted that Harrison was the best guitarist of the bunch, but their songwriting made for countless chart-toppers, making the duo the defacto leaders of the band. Lennon was technically the founding member, and McCartney often took the musical lead with arrangements. And, well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
One can see how George Harrison might have grown frustrated over the years. He was an artist, too, with plenty of thoughts to offer. Of course, the band often heard those thoughts and took them on board. He is credited with writing at least 25 songs for The Beatles, including classics like “Here Comes the Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Still, it’s possible that he felt creatively stifled by his bandmates. Fortunately, all four Beatles found solo success in the years after breaking up.