What were the reasons for George Harrison’s minimal involvement in the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”?

THOMAS J. BEAVER writes ...

What I'll contribute here touches on whole the sweep of 1966-68 for The Beatles, and regarding George in particular.

1966's great Revolver (released Aug. '66) was really the culmination of The Beatles as we knew it, as a cohesive band. The result: 14 tracks, 14 great songs (okay, maybe 13) - unique to pop music, before or since. And, not coincidently(?), George had moved up to three tracks on the album ... "Taxman," "Love You To," and "I Want to Tell You."

But, according to wiki, by late 1966, once the Beatles stopped touring Harrison's interests were moving away from the Beatles (in fact, he ‘sort’ve’ left the band for a minute, with Brian Epstein having to talk him out of it) … towards …

George Harrison’s immersion in to Indian music …

The Guardian newspaper, in writing about George' 1968 solo soundtrack-album, Wonderwall, says, "After the Beatles ceased touring in August 1966, Harrison spent six weeks in India with Ravi Shankar, an immersion that led to a chain reaction of musical and spiritual epiphanies. On his return, his contribution to Sgt. Pepper was the quietly assertive "Within You Without You" ... [but/and] much of the album left him cold. He was scarcely more enthusiastic about Magical Mystery Tour. While McCartney worked on the title track in the studio, immediately upon the release of Sgt. Pepper in May 1967, Harrison produced colored crayons from his painted sheepskin jacket and started drawing pictures. “My problem, basically, was that I was in another world,” he later said. “I didn’t really belong; I was just an appendage.”"

Then wrt Sgt. Pepper, only Paul was 'in on the concept album' notion. He wrote both beginning-and-ending versions of "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club" with the idea of it standing in for the no-longer-performing Fab Four ... and the connecting 'live-second-song', "A Little Help From My Friends." It was to created an illusion that there was still a cohesive band, really. For his part, John created his songs not knowing anything about this (and, jumping ahead, after the planned 'let's go back to doing an album like the old days, then performing it; and filming all of it' Get Back {aka Let It Be} fell through, John wanted "Abbey Road" to be 'all Paul's songs on one side, all of John's on the other side'; and again it was Paul who wanted a medley as if The Lads were still a unit.)

And George ... after getting three songs on Revolver, he had "Only a Northern Song" rejected for Sgt. Pepper, and his fine song, "It's All Too Much" was recorded just a few weeks after Sgt. Peppers wrapped up.

And so his sole composition on the Sgt. Peppers album was the Indian-inspired "Within You Without You" — to which no other Beatle contributed. George played sitar and tambura on the track, backed by musicians from the London Asian Music Circle on dilruba, swarmandal and tabla. George later commented on the Sgt. Pepper album: "It was a millstone and a milestone in the music industry ... [but, for George personally] ... there's about half the songs I like and the other half I can't stand.”

Harrison had become interested in Hinduism and Indian music ... which was, once again, also reflected in his contribution of Eastern gurus and religious leaders for inclusion on the album cover for Sgt. Pepper.

In a Sept. Sept. 67 interview with George, about the upcoming Magical Mystery Tour album, (released in Dec. '67) he was asked, "How does it feel to be out on the road again (on the "Mystery Tour" as 'The Beatles'?" George answered, "Uhh, yes. I dunno. I've never really known what it's been like as The Beatles. (laughs) Because, you see, The Beatles is still something abstract as far as I'm concerned. You know, it's something that other people see us as, The Beatles, and I TRY to see us as The Beatles but I can't." He was asked, "At the beginning, didn't you feel like a Beatle?" George answered, "Uhh, I suppose I did, yeah. In fact I do sometimes, you see, when it's in the midst of all this and people are saying 'Beatles this' and 'Beatles that,' then I've got to accept the thing that they think I'm a Beatle. I'm willing to go along with it, you know, if they want me to be a Beatle then I'll be one."

And then ... things 'went south' during the White Album sessions (summer 1968). There was so much negative energy, John and Paul almost fought in the studio ... it's why Ringo quit the band for a short time that August (till they begged him to come back). Meanwhile, George Harrison had written some of his best work -- "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," “Long, Long, Long” -- but still had trouble getting his band mates interested in his songs. If you want to know why George was so frustrated during the White Album sessions, check the personnel on the four tracks he wrote. John didn’t contribute anything on “Long, Long, Long” or "Savoy Truffle." And he only added a tape loop to “Piggies." That means John was mostly absent on three of George’s four songs.

And so, on November 1, 1968, three weeks before the release of the White Album, George Harrison released Wonderwall Music, the heartfelt, happily eccentric film soundtrack for the experimental film, Wonderwall. The Guardian wrote, "It was the first solo record by a Beatle, the first album on the Apple label and a world music crossover before such a notion even existed. Included in a boxset of Harrison’s solo work, Wonderwall Music encompasses tambura drones, Vedic chants, skiffle, ragtime, clip-clopping country, wah-wah squalls, woozy Mellotron, experimental sonic collage and, on Ski-ing, 100 seconds of Eric Clapton at his most raggedly explosive. The sound of Harrison’s musical curiosity taking flight, it is also an implicit expression of his disaffection within the Beatles, perhaps even an intimation of the beginning of the end."

And soon after, on Jan. 10, 1969, George walked away (albeit temporarily) from The Beatles for the first time.

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