“My Sweet Lord,” the biggest solo hit by ex-Beatle George Harrison, topped the charts at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. With that song, Harrison made his mark in the solo-singer world, and was no longer the quiet Beatle, but the most successful since the group disbanded.
On this day, February 19th, in 1976, a judge ordered George Harrison to pay a $587,000 fine for copyright and infringement after concluding “My Sweet Lord” to be too similar in structure and tempo to “He’s so Fine.” Harrison claimed that it was a subconscious effort that his song “My Sweet Lord” sounded identical to the 1963 Chiffon hit “He’s so Fine.” He originally had “Oh Happy Day,” a tune by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, in his mind when he wrote “My Sweet Lord.” Bright Tunes Music Corporation, copyright owner of “He’s so Fine,” did not care for the singer’s explanation and sued Harrison.
The legal dispute lasted for over a decade and Harrison paid off his debts in 1981. Ironically a few years later, Harrison bought Bright Tunes Music Corporation.