The 40 songs from George Harrison’s personal jukebox

The year 1966 was a prolific period for The Beatles. Having spent a four-year stretch relentlessly touring, their stardom started to eclipse their voices, eventually creating a gulf between the Beatles live and the Beatles in the studio, a situation that prompted George Harrison to repeatedly joke that their concert sound was notoriously bad.

Even on their last tour, which rounded off in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, the deafening wall of sound from screaming fans stopped them from playing any new material, simply because it was felt they couldn’t do it any justice live amid the roar. “In 1966, the road was getting pretty boring,” Ringo Starr said in the Beatles Anthology documentary.

“It was coming to the end for me,” he added. “Nobody was listening at the shows. That was OK at the beginning, but we were playing really bad”. Harrison echoed his sentiments, explaining that the band would muck around on stage just to keep themselves amused amid the madness. John Lennon took to singing: “I wanna hold your gland” for the simple fact nobody could hear him anyway.

In the peak years of Beatlemania mayhem, which saw them caught up in the blowback of Lennon’s “We’re more popular than Jesus now” comment, touring was getting dangerous. Lennon had riled religious people all across the Mason-Dixon line with his light-hearted pondering of: “I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity”.

Disgruntled religious groups then started burning Beatles albums, boycotting certain songs, and making unabashed death threats. The Ku Klux Klan also took to picketing The Beatles’ American gigs, adding to the sense it was getting increasingly risky to be on the road. This makes Steve Turner’s compilation of what each member of the Fab Four listened to in 1966 all the more interesting, providing an intimate list of the songs each would listen to in the comfort of their own homes, outside of the chaos.

By 1966, their sound had started to get away from them; in the literal sense, you couldn’t hear them over a crowd. So, the jukebox selections of each Beatle in Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year are particularly revealing of what tracks they’d reach for in moments of peace.

Harrison treasured his home jukebox, a KB Discomat just like Lennon’s, telling the Record Mirror in 1965: “It’s so much easier to have all my favourite records on the jukebox at once. It saves me going through piles of records to find the ones I want. Then, when I get sick of them, I just throw them out and put some new ones in.”

Steady rotations included soul and rhythm and blues, the likes of Otis Redding, The Four Tops, and Jackie Wilson. The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Beach Boys soundtracked Harrison’s more rock-filled afternoons, with Bob Dylan providing the more introspective moments. It’s a fantastic snapshot of Harrison’s trove, particularly knowing he must have been relieved to be listening to them at home in brief moments of tranquillity.

You can check out Harrison’s full jukebox line-up below.

George Harrison’s personal jukebox:

Bob and Earl – ‘Harlem Shuffle
Chuck Jackson – ‘Good Things Come to Those Who Wait’
Booker T. and the M.G.’s – ‘Be My Lady’
Bob Dylan – ‘Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window’
Little Jerry Williams – ‘Baby, You’re My Everything’
Edwin Starr – ‘Back Street’
Lee Dorsey -‘Work, Work, Work’
The Beach Boys – ‘The Little Girl I Once Knew’
The Miracles – ‘My Girl Has Gone’
Little Richard – ‘I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)’
Otis Redding – ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’
Otis Redding – ‘My Girl’
Jackie Wilson – ‘I Believe I’ll Love On’
Booker T. and The M.G.’s – ‘Plum Nellie’
Willie Mitchell – ‘Everything Is Gonna Be Alright’
Joe Tex – ‘A Sweet Woman Like You’
The Four Tops – ‘Something About You’
James Brown – ‘I Got You’
Marvin Gaye – ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’
The Byrds – ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’
Don Covay – ‘See Saw’
Sounds Incorporated – ‘I’m Comin’ Through’
Wilson Pickett – ‘Don’t Fight It’
Booker T. and the M.G.’s – ‘Bootleg’
The Young Rascals – ‘I Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out Any More’
Otis Redding – ‘Respect’
James Brown – ‘Try Me’
Otis Redding – ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’
Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles – ‘All or Nothing’
Marvin Gaye – ‘Pretty Little Baby’
Fred Hughes – ‘Oo Wee Baby, I Love You’
The Miracles – ‘The Tracks of My Tears’
Joe Tex – ‘Yum Yum’
Edwin Starr – ‘Agent Double-O-Soul’
Barrett Strong – ‘Money’
Ritchie Barrett – ‘Some Other Guy’
Chuck Berry – ‘It Wasn’t Me’
Charlie Rich – ‘Mohair Sam’
The Beach Boys – ‘Let Him Run Wild’
The Lovin’ Spoonful – ‘Do You Believe in Magic’

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