The band John Lennon said The Beatles would “pretend to be”

By the end of the 1960s, The Beatles started becoming sick of each other. While the band’s attempts to get back to their roots may have worked out well on the Get Back project, they felt that the material wasn’t good enough for mainstream release, electing to play the one rooftop performance before going in to create Abbey Road. While everyone brought their A-material to the sessions, John Lennon remembered getting started by copying one of the biggest names in British rock.

Since the band became a studio-based entity, Lennon sought to expand the group’s musical palette by moving into avant-garde music. Taking cues from his time spent with Yoko Ono, the band’s eclectic White Album featured the most daring songs that Lennon would ever compose, from the episodic ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ to the sound collage ‘Revolution 9’.

Once the band decided to take things back to their roots, though, Lennon became fascinated with the new acts coming out of the British clubs. Being drenched in blues, acts like Fleetwood Mac were making the rounds following the lead of acts like The Yardbirds, taking the basis of blues songs and putting rock arrangements around them.

Though Peter Green relied on the blues for most of his tunes with The Mac, ‘Albatross’ led to them doing something different. Featuring a massive amount of reverb on the guitar, the instrumental track has a moody atmosphere that blends the sounds of psychedelia with the group’s signature bluesy soul.

When working on material for Abbey Road, Lennon would offer up the song ‘Sun King’, which he made trying to emulate what Fleetwood Mac had done. Recalling while talking to Cosmic Magazine, Lennon stated, “That’s where we pretend to be Fleetwood Mac for a few minutes. We did the introduction, we call it the ‘Sun riff’, the little instrumental bit that’s like Fleetwood Mac before we start singing, and we did it again at the end, so we are able to sing it to make them different, you know, so it wasn’t just the same riff.”

Even though Lennon did come close to the tone of what Green was doing in the Fleetwood Mac original, both songs tended to take a different course from there. Outside of the main riff, the band seamlessly transition into a different key for Lennon’s vocals, sounding like a stoned-out choir as he welcomes the titular sun god floating through the clouds.

While the song would remain a fragment on the recorded version of the album, the final moments of Abbey Road would thrive off of the rapid-fire energy of every track on its flipside. Not having enough material to constitute a full album, the final few minutes of the record feature a medley of different songs from the group, ending the musical movement with a final bow on ‘The End’.

Although Lennon would not be pleased with the final version of the medley, the rest of the band thought that they pushed music forward, with Ringo Starr calling it one of the finest pieces they had ever worked on together. Lennon may have claimed to have made a lousy Fleetwood Mac impression, but sometimes, the greatest songs in the world can come from copying what has been there before.

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