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George Harrison’s massive 1970 triple album is an epic and monumental.
All Things Must Pass was the first triple-disc rock studio album by a single artist, and an ex-Beatle at that.
It would yield the first Number One hit by an ex-Beatle: My Sweet Lord, and now-iconic Harrison songs like What Is Life, Isn’t It a Pity, Wah-Wah and Beware of Darkness.
All Things Must Pass also served as a gateway to the large-scale, “more is more” aesthetic of ’70s classic rock, and the emergence of Harrison from under the giant songwriting shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He would prove to be one of the most compelling and original voices of the entire rock era.
The first Beatle to venture into solo recordings, Harrison had already released two previous instrumental albums on his own prior to All Things Must Pass – the Wonderwall Music film soundtrack (1968) and Electronic Sound (1969), one of the earliest albums to feature the legendary first iteration of the Moog modular synthesizer.

But George’s mind and heart were once again rooted in guitar-driven rock and roll as he flung wide the doors of EMI’s Abbey Road studio to welcome an all-star conclave of players that included Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Billy Preston, sax player Bobby Keys, and country pedal steel ace Pete Drake. Among its other distinctions, All Things Must Pass is one of rock’s great guitar albums.

On a Zoom call from the English countryside, where he’s been marooned by the pandemic, Dhani Harrison, George’s son, has spent the past five years of his life executive-producing the 50th Anniversary Edition of All Things Must Pass. Yet, after all that work, he still has the enthusiasm of a teenage fanboy as he marvels at the disc’s guitar treasures and transcendent songcraft.
“The backing band… it’s Derek and the Dominos, before they ever recorded any-thing on their own. It’s the first thing they ever recorded. They all got together before touring and before recording; they came into the studio to do All Things Must Pass. And that band is so hot. You listen to some of these tracks and you think, ‘God, it’s Derek and the Dominos!’ It’s a hell of a band.”

Poring over the box set’s pristine remix/remastering of All Things Must Pass, Dhani and his co-producer Paul Hicks had ample opportunity to dissect the album’s many standout guitar moments. One of the innovations All Things Must Pass introduced to the triple rock album format was the inclusion of a full vinyl jam disc.
“There were lots of points you’re, like, ‘Is that Clapton? Is that Dad?’” Dhani marvels. “You’re like, ‘Oh, it’s Clapton. Dad would never play that.’ But at that point they were synched up. So it’s Dad kind of playing Eric riffs and Eric playing these George riffs.“

While all this rip-roaring guitar bond-ing was going on in the studio, Harrison was in the process of losing his wife, Patti Boyd, to Clapton. Harrison had, of course, also just lost the band he’d played in since he was 14 – the band that had made him both rich and famous.

And while sessions for All Things Must Pass were underway, his mother died. The album is one of rock’s most poignant evocations of loss and sorrow. Harrison’s personal sense of bereavement at the time was echoed by the world all around him.

“All Things Must Pass is coming from a time in George’s life that is very dualistic,” Dhani notes. “It’s very dark, yet some of it expresses some of the most exalted states of clarity you can have. And somewhere in the middle is that whole experience and that whole record.”

When All Things Must Pass first hit the record shops in the wintery November of 1970, fans found that there was a lot to digest among the 23 tracks that comprised the original release.

Densely produced by George Harrison and infamous studio legend Phil Spector, the songs are awash in Harrison’s unique chordal modulations and spiritual concepts, drawn from Hindu tradition, that were not as familiar to many rock fans back then as they’ve become in our own time, with online meditation apps and yoga studios abounding in every city and town.
The 50th Anniversary reissue of All Things Must Pass is far more massive than the original. Along with the remix/remastering of the original album, created with the latest digital technology, there’s also a cornucopia of outtakes, previously unreleased tracks and lavishly printed liner notes and photos.

An Uber Deluxe Edition comes in a wooden box packed with bonus items like a string of Rudraksha meditation beads and a bookmark made from a tree on Harrison’s Friar Park estate in England. There are also Deluxe and Limited editions offering the music on both vinyl and CD.

The abundance of material on All Things Must Pass is directly attributable to the large backlog of songs Harrison had amassed during his tenure with the Beatles.

“Dad had obviously built up so many songs after the Beatles,” Dhani says. “They didn’t get their day in court, you know? So he went big. Paul and John had already had their big arrangements with things like A Day in the Life, I Am the Walrus and Penny Lane. I think Dad wanted that kind of treatment and attention for his own songs.”
As the Beatles imploded, Harrison had taken to spending time with his friend Bob Dylan in upstate New York, where Dylan was working with members of the Band to craft his own post-’60s musical identity.

Coming from the tense, increasingly hostile atmosphere of Beatles sessions, Harrison was struck by the easygoing, ego-free camaraderie between Dylan and his fellow musicians.

All Things Must Pass would start off with a song, I’d Have You Anytime, that Harrison co-wrote with Dylan, and would also include a cover of Dylan’s own If Not for You. In working with the many great musicians who helped realize All Things Must Pass, George wanted to create the same kind of friendly, open-hearted spirit of collaboration that he’d observed in Dylan’s work with the Band.
At the same time, though, he was work-ing with Phil Spector, who was noted for his epic productions – the “little teenage symphonies” that had revolutionized mid-’60s pop music via hits by the Ronettes, Crystals, Righteous Brothers and others.

In this context, All Things Must Pass can be characterized as “The Basement Tapes meet Spector’s Wall of Sound.” As the sessions unfolded, it was often Spector who kept calling for another guitarist, another piano player… which expanded the album’s “Who’s Who” of top ’60s and ’70s musicians to include guitarist Dave Mason (Traffic), keyboardists Gary Brooker (Procol Harum) and Gary Wright (Spooky Tooth) as well as Peter Frampton, members of Badfinger and more.

All of this was being assembled on eight-track tape, which was the prevailing multitrack technology at the time. In some instances, the eight tracks were mixed down to two tracks of a second eight-track reel, with overdubs added on the remain-ing six tracks.

And in a few other cases, the project moved from Abbey Road over to another legendary London studio, Olympic, which had recently taken delivery on one of the first 16-track machines. Spector’s production approach involved combining multiple instruments on a single tape track – which made remixing All Things Must Pass somewhat problematic.
“So many people have told us, ‘You gotta de-Spector the album,’ Dhani says. “I’ve been hearing that for the last 20 years – every time we do a reissue. But you can’t de-Spector it. The way it’s recorded, everything fits in its own place, with different instruments taking up different bandwidths.

“So if you want to, say, increase the volume on the piano, you’re not really using the volume knob. You’re more just using the frequencies to bring out an instrument more. That’s where you really see what Phil was doing. It takes a lot of understanding.”

Spector had been a bone of contention in the long painful process by which the Beatles unraveled. He had been brought in to do additional production and mixing on Let It Be by Allen Klein, the manager that Lennon, Harrison and Starr had chosen to represent the Beatles over the objections of Paul McCartney, who wanted to place the quartet’s business affairs in the hands of Eastman & Eastman, the firm run by his father-in-law and brother-in-law.

McCartney hated Spector’s work on Let It Be and, years later, would release his own “de-Spectored” version, Let It Be… Naked. But both Lennon and Harrison were pro-Spector and elected to work with him on their debut albums. Although Dhani Harrison suggests that his father might have gotten the short end of the stick.
“The stuff Spector did with John [on the Plastic Ono Band album] was fantastic. And I think when he did All Things Must Pass, he might have been a little bit more, as they say, off his head than when he was doing some of the other stuff. I know my dad had a very hard time working with Phil.

“He had a bad drug problem and he was, you know, a nutter. But, saying that, my dad was the guiding force. He was the one going and waking Phil up and saying, ‘Please,’ you know? He didn’t have to do a lot of the things he was doing to keep Phil up, like bringing him coffee and checking to see if he was still alive.

“Usually the producer has to do things like that for the artist. So I think working with Spector was a little trying. Dad didn’t go back into the studio for a long time after that. Let’s just say that.”

While Harrison was most likely not as dissatisfied with Spector’s work as McCartney had been, he was intent on remixing All Things Must Pass during the final years of his life. Along with Paul Hicks and mastering engineer Alex Wharton, Dhani worked with his father on the 2000 remix/reissue of All Things Must Pass. He sees the 50th Anniversary remixes and remastering as a continuation of that process.
“Paul Hicks and my dad were very good friends. And Alex Wharton was a very good friend. He knew what we wanted from this. He knew where we had too much reverb, and he knew my dad hated having too much reverb on his vocals. He used to sit there with him every single day. He mastered all of my dad’s catalog.”
Dhani says that advances in digital audio editing technology in the two decades since 2000 made it possible to dig into those tracks containing multiple instruments and achieve a greater degree of isolation and separation of individual instruments. He regards the box set’s remixes and remasterings as a marked improvement.

“We played it to my mum and she cried. Paul Hicks played it to me and I cried. It was the opening track, I’d Have You Anytime. You could hear the fragility in the voice. It’s like a tarp has been lifted off the voice. It sounds so vulnerable, and yet so wonderful. I A/B-ed with the original a million times. The new mix has something that the original didn’t. I felt if a mix could move me like that, it’s definitely going in the right direction.”

The process was filled with revelations – such as the extent to which Harrison employed his Moog modular synthesizer on All Things Must Pass. He owned the first Moog in England, and one of the earliest units Moog ever produced. It had played a role on the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Harrison’s Electronic Sound album. But Dhani and his colleagues discovered the instrument is all over All Things Must Pass as well.

“You can’t really hear it in the full mix. But once you’ve heard some of the tracks soloed, you go, like, ‘Wow, that’s a big dirty Moog bassline in the middle of Isn’t It a Pity! And this is why Phil is Phil. You can’t hear the Moog until you’ve heard it once. Then you can never unhear it.

“Once you’ve discovered this stuff, it’s like archeology. You can’t bury it back up. It has to change your perspective on things. And it only makes things better. At no point were we like, ‘Oh, I don’t like hearing all that stuff.’ It’s this big doubling act. It’s mad, and it’s way more electro than you’d think. You’d never guess that that those instruments were in that song.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the inclusion of a country pedal steel stalwart like Pete Drake demonstrates the eclectic expansiveness of Harrison’s musical vision. “I like to think of All Things Must Pass as the best country record of all time,” Dhani says. “That great Pete Drake pedal steel on Behind That Locked Door,’ the song my dad wrote about Dylan…. There’s a country hit if ever I’d heard one.”

The massive scope of the original album project and the stylistic breadth of the material Harrison stockpiled come across clearly in the box set’s generous selection of bonus tracks. George spent a day in the studio running down songs for Spector with just an acoustic guitar and vocal. These recordings offer an intimate glimpse of Harrison at his most Dylanesque.
There was also a day of full-band studio rehearsals, exploring options and locking arrangements into place. There’s quite a range of material there, from spiritual songs like Om Hari Om and Mother Divine to the country-flavored Going Down to Golder’s Green, which calls to mind the Chet Atkins-obsessed George Harrison of the early Beatles recordings.

“There’s a version of Run of the Mill that sounds like Jessica by the Allman Brothers,” Dhani adds. “It’s got all these great guitar harmonies. The bonus tracks are where people are going to go, ‘Oh, this is what we would call de-Spectored.’”
Dhani and his crew worked their way through hundreds of tape reels to curate a selection of tracks that provides intriguing insights into the evolution of All Things Must Pass without becoming tedious. There’s a “party disc” of studio banter, for example.

“When we’re making boxsets, I’m very conscious of ‘I don’t want to hear 20 versions of All Things Must Pass in a row,’” Dhani says. “Like some of those Beach Boys box sets. I don’t want to hear 50 versions of God Only Knows. It’s better to have three versions. We’ve got more material. I mean I’ve got cassettes. And we decided not to put the cassette stuff up against the masters on this record, like some people do.

“At some point, years from now, there might be our version of the bootleg series. But we want to make sure everything is high quality. My dad was always very conscious of scraping the bottom of the barrel, you know. He’d say, ‘Well, if you make my new album you’ll have to call it Scraping the Barrel.’ It’s a real thing. People do scrape the barrel too much. We’re very conscious of not doing that. Everything released since my father has passed away has been of the highest quality. There are no throwaway things.”
A gifted songwriter, musician and film composer in his own right, Dhani Harrison certainly doesn’t need to repackage Harrison Senior’s old records to get by. In fact, he’s put a lot of his own creative work on hold in pursuit of what he sees as a mission to uphold his father’s legacy.

“When my father passed, he didn’t have a record deal or any records in the stores. He didn’t care. I said, ‘Dad, you know you really should get your record in stores. A.) How are you going to make any money? And B.) People should hear your music. People want to hear your music. You shouldn’t just leave the world hanging with no record.’ He was like, ‘Well, I suppose so….’

“And so I’ve taken that on as my job, from when he passed away. OK, let’s get everything back on the shelves, in perfect order. Obsessive compulsive. In the same-sized boxes, with the lyrics and the photographs. Then maybe in 20 years time I can go on being me, and carry on with my life. But it’s gonna take me 20 years! We’ll do a 50th anniversary for The Concert for Bangladesh as well. We’re looking into that. Everything’s been put back two years because of the pandemic, but we’ll get it done.”

“I wish my dad could hear this,” Dhani says. “He would have been so psyched. It sounds timeless, but it also sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.”


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Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today released the Dhani Harrison Ukulele, marking the artist’s first collaboration with the iconic musical instrument brand. Designed for live performance, the Dhani Harrison Ukulele is built with eye-catching aesthetics from custom inlay work and unique stained finishes, to Fender® electronics with a tone knob allowing players to EQ their sound.

“We’re thrilled to launch the Dhani Harrison Signature Ukulele, the latest addition to our expanding line of Fender® ukuleles,” said Billy Martinez, Vice President Category Manager – Acoustic and Squier Divisions. “Dhani is a world-leading talent and we are seeing more demand for ukulele instruments than ever – so this collaboration made total sense to us. Dhani worked hand-in-hand with us to create his ideal ukulele, incorporating design elements that are deeply personal to him, which we hope will encourage people all over the world to express their own individuality and creativity.”

“The ukulele was created to bring the player and listeners joy, and that’s one thing about it I love, when you play it, you’ll realize it’s a higher quality of ukulele than the majority of ukuleles you’ve probably played that are not custom Hawaiian ones. You might notice the accent is better. The tone is nice, you’ve got an EQ, and you’ve got good tuners. It’s an experience” Dhani said.

As he grew more versatile on the instrument, Harrison wielded the ukulele as his entrance into songwriting. Influenced musically by Gabby Pahinui, Bennie Nawahi, and George Formby, the artist is adamant about the unique nature of the instrument as a tool in the creative process.

The ukulele welcomes “the percussive nature of the right hand and certain rhythms that you get.” Harrison clarifies, “There are rhythms that exist in your rhythm, but no one’s playing those particular beats.”

“Having an instrument that’s easy to play encourages you to play it more, and it’s more inviting, and therefore you get more time on it. And therefore, you can get better, which brings you more joy.”

“I knew that if I did a Fender® signature model, it would have to be a ukulele,” said Dhani Harrison. “I’ve always played it and I write a lot of stuff on a uke. I spent a lot of time in Hawaii growing up and it was there that I really fell in love with the uke as a serious instrument. I designed it to be my ideal stage ukulele that also sounds great when you’re not plugged in. The design is very much inspired by my passions and quest to build the ultimate ukulele. I wanted to do a blue finish and I wanted a light and a dark – kind of like a blue sky day and a space black night. The blue sapphire stain finish is my nighttime mode, and the turquoise stain is my daytime mode. I hope this new Signature Series helps inspire others on their own musical journey.”

The Dhani Harrison Ukulele is available in two different finishes, each with its own unique fretboard inlays and engraved designs on the back of the instrument. Designed for live performance, the tenor-sized ukulele features a solid ovangkol wood top, with ovangkol back and sides, providing a warm sound – as well as a ¾ depth, upgraded Fender® electronics, distinctive build and eye-catching aesthetics. With a choice of daytime and nighttime finishes, the stains were developed to maintain the visual grain of the wood. Extremely lightweight yet durable, the Dhani Harrison Ukulele is built to stand the test of time.



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George Harrison’s Material World Foundation has donated $500,000 to COVID-19 relief. The foundation — started by the late Beatle in 1973 with the release of the LP Living in the Material World — donated the funds to MusiCare’s COVID-19 Foundation, Save the Children, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

In addition, the foundation launched “The Inner Light Challenge,” in which users across the globe share a line, verse, or chorus from the Beatles’ 1968 B side — featured in a new lyric-video below. One dollar will be donated to pandemic relief for every person who posts the clip with the hashtag #innerlight2020, with a maximum of $100,000.

Harrison’s son, Dhani, covers “The Inner Light” in the clip above. “Without going out of my door/I can know all things on earth,” he sings, ringing a Tibetan singing bowl while sitting on a couch. “Without looking out of my window/I could know the ways of heaven.”

“These lyrics sung by George are a positive reminder to all of us who are isolating, in quarantine, or respecting the request to shelter in place,” Harrison’s widow, Olivia, said in a statement. “Let’s get and stay connected at this difficult time. There are things we can do to help, and we invite you to share your Inner Light.”

Dhani recently revived his father’s record label, Dark Horse Records, and has plans for previously unreleased material to see the light of day. “It’s the family business, as they say,” “It’s funny — if you’re a plumber and want to be in the family plumbing business, no one would think anything about that. That would be normal. But in our family, the family business is music, so I’m just doing what mum and dad did. No one is making us do it. We have to do it.”


Ringo and Paul on initiative #innerlight2020…
“I am sending Peace and Love to everyone and hope you are staying healthy and safe. I want to thank and support Dhani and Olivia for this great campaign to help to fight Covid 19. Peace and love,” Ringo

“When we find ourselves in times of trouble… Happy to support Dhani and Olivia with this very worthwhile cause. Great song, wonderful initiative #innerlight2020” – Paul


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As Olivia Harrison remembers, her future husband, George, drove himself to work on the first day on his new job. It was October 1974, and George Harrison had flown to Los Angeles to visit the offices of the record label he’d just launched. The only problem was that no one had organized a welcoming party for him, but Olivia — then Olivia Arias, newly hired to work on the project — dashed out to the parking lot to greet him. “I thought somebody should,” she says. “He drove onto the lot by himself in this little car, and I thought, ‘Jeez, this is a big day in his life,’ and I went outside and said, ‘Welcome!’ He said, ‘What’s going on?’ He was very excited, but it was just me.”

In many ways, the story befits Harrison: Among his fellow Beatles, he was always the most low-key and publicity averse — the so-called quiet Beatle who also had a sly sense of humor. But his life after the band’s breakup was far from quiet; the early-to-mid-Seventies were some of the most creative and bustling years of his career. He went solo as soon as the group disbanded in 1970, organized the all-star Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, and had hit singles of his own. Then, in 1974, he decided to start his own label, Dark Horse Records.

The list of contemporary musicians with their own imprints is vast and includes Drake, the Weeknd, Dan Auerbach, Meek Mill, Jack White, and Kanye West. Dark Horse wasn’t simply one of the earliest artist-headed labels — along with labels started by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Jefferson Airplane — but one of the most eclectic. During the company’s first few years, Harrison released records in genres few would have ever associated with the Beatles: suave disco, strummy folk rock, funky R&B, Seventies boogie rock, even proto-yacht rock. “There was some time and distance between whatever they went through with the breakup of the Beatles,” says Olivia, who met Harrison during this time. “You got to the end of that [period] and Apple had split up, and he said, ‘I want to do something different.’ It was a new day and a fresh start.”

Many current rock and hip-hop artist-entrepreneurs have determined how to own, run, and distribute their own labels, but in the early years of such undertakings, everyone — especially the musicians who fronted the companies — was learning as they went along. Dark Horse began with the best intentions and was a testament to Harrison’s wide-ranging tastes. But his experience running a company, and touring to promote himself during that time, would reverberate for the rest of his career, in ways both positive and less so. With the label now revived by his son Dhani — who has reactivated Dark Horse’s famous logo and is digging into its long-unavailable back catalog, with plenty of unreleased material due to be issued in the coming years — it’s worth looking back on an often-forgotten chapter in the life of a Beatle, the free-wheeling music business era that led to Dark Horse, and the lessons learned when an artist takes the business plunge.

In 1973, drummer Jim Keltner, who remained a close friend of Harrison right up until his death in 2001 from lung cancer, paid a visit to Friar Park, Harrison’s private estate outside London. The two were hanging out in the downstairs breakfast room that was the social hub of the house. “We were sitting there one evening and George asked me, ‘What does dark horse mean to you?’” Keltner says. “My dad worked at a racetrack all his life. So to me, dark horse is the one not expected to win but who wins.”

For Olivia, the connection was clear. “George always considered himself to be a dark horse — under the radar,” she says. “It’s interesting considering he was so out there [in the public]. But he was very internalized. If you looked at him onstage, he didn’t physically jump around and express himself like that. In that dark-horse way, people wouldn’t expect you to be a songwriter or be spiritual or funny, because you’re a dark horse. Nobody really knows what’s going on with you.”

Harrison told Keltner he was starting his own record company and even showed him an illustration of the Uchchaihshravas, a seven-headed horse common in Hindu mythology, which would serve as the company’s logo. “He was just the king of all horses, the prototype for all horses, the best horse ever,” says Dhani of the symbol. “He turned the tide in the battle and just generally was seen as this powerful vehicle for protection and overcoming.”

By 1974, the idea of offering a refuge to some of his fellow artists appealed to Harrison, who’d been battered by the Beatles’ messy business breakup, and he had the additional clout to make it happen. His 1970 triple album, All Things Must Pass, was both a best-seller and a declaration to the world that he could make records equal to those of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The Concert for Bangladesh the following year found Harrison sharing the stage with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and others to benefit the ravaged country, and he continued his commercial streak with his 1973 album, Living in the Material World, and its corresponding hit, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).”

Harrison was still under contract to EMI, the Beatles’ label, until early 1976, but the idea of running his own company and promoting his friends’ work appealed to him. “If George liked you, he wanted to help you,” says Keltner. “He would put it as, ‘These people are the people who really deserve to be signed to a label.’” According to reports, Harrison consulted with David Geffen, then running Asylum Records, and he and Ringo Starr were said to be considering buying Apple. Instead Harrison opted to start Dark Horse, and in the spring of 1974, he entered into a five-year partnership agreement with A&M Records, then the home of the Carpenters, Peter Frampton, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and many more. A&M invested more than $2 million into the project; for its investment, A&M also would eventually land the rights to Harrison’s solo albums.

At a press conference a few months later, Harrison explained his approach: “I don’t want Dark Horse to be a big label. I want to keep it reasonably small.… If I signed all the artists who have given me audition tapes, Dark Horse would be bigger than RCA now.” (Asked about the Beatles reunion at the same event, he said, “If we do it again, it will probably be because we’ll be broke and need the money,” adding that McCartney “is a fine bass player, although he may be a little overpowering at times,” and saying he preferred session man Willie Weeks.)

As an artist himself, Harrison was happy to delegate: In the U.K., the label was run by Jonathan Clyde, with Dennis Morgan (who was previously involved with Elton John’s Rocket label) managing the company’s L.A. office. Olivia Harrison had been working as an assistant in A&M’s merchandising department for two years when she was offered the job at Dark Horse, which had its own offices on the A&M lot — sharing space with Ode Records, whose major act was Carole King. “George was very excited, and he loved having that office to go to,” she says. “He loved being surrounded by musicians. He designed everything, even the merch. He had beautiful bronze Dark Horse belt buckles and pins. There were dark horses everywhere.”

“Jerry Moss [A&M co-founder] put my mom on the Dark Horse project because she was the only person cool enough there,” adds Dhani. “She was a meditator, and they figured she would get on with my dad real well, which evidently she did.” (The two were married in 1978, the year Dhani was born: “I was one of their early releases,” he says drolly.)

As if declaring its range right out of the box, Dark Horse’s first two releases — albums by Splinter and Ravi Shankar, both in October 1974 — were at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. Shankar Family & Friends was an East-meets-West collaboration between Shankar’s band, Harrison, and musician friends like Keltner, Starr, guitarist David Bromberg, jazz sax and flute player Tom Scott, and others.

George was tipped to the British folk-rock duo Splinter (Bill Elliott and Bobby Purvis) by Mal Evans, the Beatles’ late confidante and personal assistant. To Olivia, the appeal of their music — the gentle hooks of their debut album, The Place I Love, and rollicking singalongs like “Drink All Day” — was obvious. “Badfinger had been on Apple, and Splinter was not too dissimilar,” she says. “You could see them following Badfinger.” Harrison produced the album and played various instruments on it; reflecting the self-deprecating humor that would also be showcased in the Rutles movie, he referred to himself in the credits as Hari Georgeson, Jai Raj Harisein, and P. Roducer.

Still, Dark Horse was hardly a haven for purist music. Harrison also issued Mind Your Own Business!, a taste of period FM rock by former Wings and Joe Cocker guitarist Henry McCullough. One of Harrison’s label heads signed the Stairsteps, the updated lineup of the Five Stairsteps, the Chicago R&B group whose biggest hit was the glorious soul hymnal “O-o-h Child.” Their album 2nd Resurrection was the unlikeliest of Dark Horse releases — silk-sheeted Seventies soul with ebullient harmonies, squiggly Billy Preston synths, and as many flute solos as a Lizzo show. “George listened to everything,” says Olivia, “but as an artist, he let the artists have final approval.”

Another Dark Horse signing resulted from the weekly jam sessions at the Record Plant studio in L.A. Called the Jim Keltner Fan Club Hour, after a mischievous liner note in Living in the Material World, the jams attracted everyone from Mick Jagger and John Lennon to support players like James Taylor–Carole King guitarist Danny Kortchmar, soul-rooted bassist Paul Stallworth, and a young, R&B-steeped Canadian keyboardist and singer named David Foster, who went on to produce pop acts from Chicago to Josh Groban and was featured in a public TV special last year with his current wife Katherine McPhee. “Foster was a hungry piano player,” Keltner recalls. “He was so funky, man, nothing like the guy you see now on PBS.”

As a result of those jams, Kortchmar, Foster, Stallworth, and Keltner wound up forming a band, Attitudes, that played radio-ready grooves blending Foster’s pop tendencies and Kortchmar’s roots in R&B. Even though the music didn’t seem up Harrison’s musical alley, he nonetheless signed the group to Dark Horse — a favor to his close pal Keltner, as Kortchmar recalls — and released two albums by them. The first includes the scrappy original version of Kortchmar’s “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.,” later covered by James Taylor. (Kortchmar says it was “loosely based on a relationship with a woman who I really dug but who split with somebody vastly more famous than me.”)

In retrospect, the Attitudes records (in particular tracks like “Ain’t Love Enough” and “Drink My Water”) seem to presage the soft-rock invasion of the late Seventies, though Kortchmar begs off such comparisons. “I don’t think you can compare what we were doing to Christopher Cross or Kenny Loggins,” says Kortchmar. “And that’s not to disparage those people at all. But what we were doing was way rawer and funkier than what you’d play on your yacht.”

On top of launching his own label, Harrison piled even more work onto his plate by undertaking his first (and only) American tour. By 1974, none of the Beatles had toured America on their own, so Harrison’s concerts — more than 30 shows, spanning all of November and December — were among the most anticipated events of the year. Even at a time that found Dylan back on the road and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young reuniting, an endeavor like this by a solo Beatle was an event.

Everything appeared to be in order: Promoter Bill Graham was handling the tour, which was booked into arenas, and Harrison’s band featured a formidable lineup that included Preston, Scott, and, at times, Keltner. Predating the way Dylan would rearrange his material and, with the Rolling Thunder Revue, put the spotlight on other musicians onstage, Harrison reconfigured his material for some of the jazz-rock players behind him and generously allowed Preston and Scott to showcase their own songs. Each concert also included a lengthy midsection set by Shankar and his musicians.

But in rushing to complete an album (Dark Horse) in time for the shows, Harrison strained his voice, which proved to be only one of several potholes. Across the country, Beatles fans were thrilled by the sight of Harrison onstage, but some were confounded by his hoarse singing and versions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the Lennon-McCartney “In My Life” with tweaked lyrics (“I love God more,” in the latter case). “George wanted people to listen to the Indian music,” says Olivia. “He thought he was doing a service. He used to say, ‘If people want to come to hear Beatle George, then they shouldn’t come.’”

Keltner has fond memories of traveling on private planes with Shankar’s band and crew, and in hotel rooms, Harrison would play Dylan albums and sing along with every word. But everyone involved was indulging in typical Seventies rock excess. “We were having too much bad fun,” Keltner admits. “It was a big, fun party. So George was not in the best shape to do a big tour. I think that’s why he never toured after that.”

Olivia also confirms it was a difficult time for her future husband. “He had such a raw throat when he left on tour,” Olivia says. “He wasn’t used to being a frontman. He was a bit unhinged at the time, and he had the responsibility for 25 or 26 musicians. He had a new manager, and had he known George, he wouldn’t have allowed George to push himself like that. George didn’t have the nerve to cancel, but he should have.”

The rigors of the road would prove to be only one hurdle. Perhaps reflecting his jammed workload, the Dark Horse album (released by Capitol/EMI, not Dark Horse, for contractual reasons) felt tired and wasn’t greeted as warmly as his previous records. In spite of their quality, the same went for the initial slate of Dark Horse releases. Kortchmar says he had “high hopes” for Attitudes — “I thought maybe it would catch on and people would start digging it” — but few of the Dark Horse releases made the charts. Olivia says sales were not an issue for George: “You did the music and put it out and tried to promote it. They say, ‘Do it and drop it in the well.’ That’s the reason George did anything, for the pleasure and the need to create.”

But the relationship between the label and its financial backer soured. “George started hitting the road, and then it was this guy making the record and this guy making decisions, and this guy running up a huge tab that we were paying for, and the records weren’t very good,” A&M’s Moss recalled in 2007. “And it got to the point where I couldn’t root for this project any more, even though George had charmed a great many people on our lot to do extra work for that label, and we created the whole image for him.”

When Harrison delivered his next album — what would be Thirty-Three & 1/3 — to Warner Bros. instead of A&M, A&M sued him for $10 million. Harrison had developed what Clyde calls “a close personal friendship” with Warners head Mo Ostin and felt that company would be more amenable. Harrison ultimately had to fork over $4 million to A&M before he fully moved Dark Horse to Warner Bros., where it remained for many years. “Management and A&M were not happy with the deal,” Olivia says. “It didn’t have much to do with George, but it had everything to do with him because he had to sign everything. I don’t know the ins and outs, but it was pretty acrimonious and it was very disappointing to George. Being an artist label, he never thought that would happen. It went wrong, and that was really sad.”

With Warner Bros. now backing Dark Horse, Harrison attempted to revive the original spirit of the label, releasing a solo album by Stairsteps co-founder Keni Burke and albums by Splinter and Attitudes. But during the switch from A&M to Warner Bros., a potential hit — Attitudes’ “Sweet Summer Music,” which recalled the breezy Latin-pop hits of War and had begun climbing the soul charts — didn’t get a proper promotional push and faded quickly. Soon, the burden of being a label boss began to gnaw at Harrison, as he told Rolling Stone in 1979.

“I was so wiped out, and it resulted in me saying, ‘Sod it, I don’t want a record company,’” he said. “I don’t mind me being on the label because, all right, I can release an album and it makes some profit, and I don’t phone myself in the middle of the night to complain about different things. But artists are never satisfied. They spend maybe $50,000 more than I’d spend making an album, then they won’t do any interviews or go on the road — whatever you’d organize for them, they’d foul it up. It was just too much bullshit. They think a record company is like a bank that they can go and draw money out of whenever they want.”

Harrison went on to say that there were “some good things that came out of it,” citing Attitudes’ Good News and the two Shankar albums he bankrolled. But his disenchantment with the experience deepened, and Dark Horse eventually became a home for Harrison’s solo albums, right up to his final release, Brainwashed, released shortly after his death.

Speaking of the label’s early days, Olivia says, “it was a lot of work. He’d done it, and he wanted to do other things. Yes, in hindsight, it’s like you’ve created a monster here.”

As an outlet for Harrison’s intermittent solo albums, Dark Horse continued right up through his death, but Dhani admits that the label has largely been “dormant outside its current vaults” since then. Earlier this year, he and his manager David Zonshine announced that the label was being revived, thanks to a new distribution deal with BMG. Dark Horse’s re-entry began with a fresh recording —  a cover of Tom Petty’s “For Real — For Tom,” featuring Dhani, Jakob Dylan, and Willie Nelson, along with Nelson’s sons Micah and Lukas — but Dhani and his four-person staff will largely focus on material in Dark Horse’s vaults. So far, they’ve rolled out an Attitudes compilation and reissues of Shankar’s In Concert 1972 and Shankar’s 1997, George-produced Chants of India, with more back catalog to come.

Dark Horse will also reissue the work of simpatico artists who weren’t on the label, starting with the post-Clash albums by the late Joe Strummer and his band the Mescaleros. “It was just one of those things where it was such a natural fit,” says Dhani. “Joe was half Indian from his father, and he spent some time in Mexico. My mother’s Mexican and obviously my father was family with Ravi and all the Indian classical musicians. So it was a similar parallel.” For now, though, the label doesn’t plan on signing new artists.

The company’s archival research has also turned up a trove of unissued George Harrison material. “We have people digging through mountains of tapes, and they keep coming,” says Dhani. “Boxes and boxes of them.” This year marks the 50th anniversary of All Things Must Pass, and Dhani and his archivists have unearthed hours of unreleased material and unheard songs from those sessions. “A lot of it has been bootlegged, but we have better versions,” says Olivia. “We have all the 24-tracks of All Things Must Pass, and we found lots of different takes and talking in the studio.”

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Concert for Bangladesh, followed in 2023 by the five-decade mark of Living in the Material World. Each of those projects could be accorded expanded editions, although the specifics aren’t worked out.

Dhani says he is asked on a regular basis about his father’s controversial 1974 tour more than any of Harrison’s other undertakings. Dhani says he’s listened back to tapes of all the shows and agrees that his father wasn’t in the best of voice, but still feels the shows revealed another aspect of George’s music. “His voice is pretty tired, but in my opinion, it sounds great,” he says. “It’s raspy, and it has grit to it. You can hear the fragility in all the songs. It’s a different take on a lot of his music.” Olivia says several of the shows were also filmed, onstage and offstage, and the material has the makings of a documentary. “I think it would make a great tour movie,” she says. “The backstage footage is amazing and hysterical. Things went on backstage that don’t happen now. Now everything is so cut and dried, the opposite of spontaneous.”

Although it’s largely forgotten now, Dark Horse paved the way for other artist companies, a legacy Dhani is seeking to protect and continue. “It’s the family business, as they say,” he says. “It’s funny — if you’re a plumber and want to be in the family plumbing business, no one would think anything about that. That would be normal. But in our family, the family business is music, so I’m just doing what mum and dad did. No one is making us do it. We have to do it.”