George Harrison playing acoustic guitar circa 1970.
George Harrison playing acoustic guitar circa 1970.

The Beatles Almost Fired George Harrison and Replaced Him With Eric Clapton

The revelation comes from a newly unearthed audio recording of John Lennon

Eric Clapton famously stole his friend George Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd in the late ’70s, but it turns out that years earlier, he almost made away with his job too. According to a newly unearthed audio recording from January 1969, the Beatles were considering firing Harrison and replacing him with Clapton.

The tape, recorded during the band’s tumultuous sessions for Let It Be, features the group reeling after Harrison temporarily quit over the fact that his songs weren’t getting the same amount of attention from the Fab Four as Lennon and McCartney’s. As a result of his departure, Lennon suggests replacing the guitarist with Clapton.

Lennon can be heard on the tape describing Harrison’s attitude as “a festering wound and we allowed it to go deeper and we didn’t even give him any bandages.”

“I think if George doesn’t come back by [next week], we ask Eric Clapton to play,” he adds.

Fortunately for Beatles fans, Harrison — who had gone to Liverpool during that time to visit his mother and clear his head — returned six days later, just under the wire.

The newly discovered recording is part of the more than 120 hours of previously unheard audio and 50 hours of unseen footage captured by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg during the Let It Be sessions, many of which will be featured in the forthcoming Peter Jackson docuseries The Beatles: Get Back. The three-part series will debut on Disney+ on November 25, 26 and 27.

Hopefully the film — unlike Lennon — pays Harrison the respect he deserves, since he was by most accounts a better, kinder and more likable human being than his more famous bandmates.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.