In 1969, The Beatles were writing and recording what would be their final album: Let It Be. The band’s 13th and final album became synonymous with the end of the Fab Four, as they later split up shortly after its release. But before that, guitarist George Harrison quit the band in the middle of recording a song.
The moment came during the recording of The Beatles track Two of Us. After breaking for lunch, Harrison came back and announced: “I think I’ll be leaving the band now.” He nonchalantly added: “See you round the clubs.”
Harrison had found himself enraged in the recent days and weeks as his ideas and notions were pushed to the side by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. While the songwriting duo were the primary scribes for The Beatles, Harrison was adamant that his voice was also worth listening to.
He placed a lot of the blame on McCartney, as well. He said: “At that point in time, Paul couldn’t see beyond himself. He was on a roll, but … in his mind, everything that was going on around him was just there to accompany him. He wasn’t sensitive to stepping on other people’s egos or feelings.”
Eventually, things became too much for him.
Harrison had enough after being ignored and denied so many times. “I just got so fed up with the bad vibes,” he told Musician magazine. “I didn’t care if it was the Beatles, I was getting out.
So his driver took him back to his home in Surrey, and he started writing music.
That very same day, Harrison penned his track Wah-Wah. The song was later included on his third solo studio album, All Things Must Pass.
The brutal track included such damning lyrics as: “I don’t need no wah-wah / And I know how sweet life can be / If I keep myself free / wah-wah.”
Harrison later spoke candidly about the song and how it was aimed directly at his former bandmates.
Harrison admitted that the song was named after the wah pedal used in guitar playing. But it was also a statement from him to Lennon and McCartney. In his biography, he revealed that it meant: “You’re giving me a b****y headache.”
He also spoke about writing music on his own versus working with The Beatles. He confessed: “There was too much restriction [in The Beatles]. It had to self-destruct … I could see a much better time ahead being by myself, away from the band … It was like a straitjacket.”
While Harrison was away working on his own music, Lennon and McCartney were deciding who they should replace him with. They did, after all, still have an entire album to finish off.
Lennon told the Let It Be director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg: “I think if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday, we ask Eric Clapton to play. We should just go on as if nothing’s happened.”
While Harrison did eventually make his return to The Beatles, his wife at the time – Pattie Boyd – confirmed that he was “not happy” about the situation.
She revealed: “Like a little brother, [Harrison] was pushed into the background. He would come home from recording and be full of anger. It was a very bad state that he was in. The Beatles made him unhappy, with the constant arguments. They were vicious to each other. That was really upsetting.”