The first single by an ex-Beatle to reach number one was “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison. Released in November 1970 in the US, and January 1971 in the UK, the song reached number one on the charts in both countries, as well as in a few others.
“My Sweet Lord” appeared on Harrison’s number one hit triple album All Things Must Pass. George wrote the song in December 1969, while he and Billy Preston were in Copenhagen, Denmark. Originally intended as a song for Preston, Billy’s version appeared on his album Encouraging Words. He had a minor hit with the single in early 1970.
Harrison was involved in a lengthy legal battle due to musical similarities between “My Sweet Lord” and The Chiffons’ song “He’s So Fine”. A U.S. federal court decision in the case found that Harrison “subconsciously” copied the earlier song. He had to surrender the majority of royalties from “My Sweet Lord” and a cut of royalties from his All Things Must Pass album. In something of a twist, George would eventually buy the rights to “He’s So Fine”.
After George Harrison’s death from cancer in late 2001, “My Sweet Lord” reached number one again on the UK charts when it was reissued in January 2002.