The Unions were blamed for many ills of the Seventies but now it seems they conspired to rob a Beatle of a No 1, and if you have ever suffered the frustration of losing something in the post, spare a thought for George Harrison.
An investigation has at last revealed the truth behind the release of George’s debut album, All Things Must Pass .
It was spring 1971 and Britain’s postal workers were on strike for a 13 per cent pay rise. The action cost the Post Office £25million in lost revenue, the nation was without post for almost eight weeks but no-one at the time connected the strike with the conundrum of why the most successful solo Beatle’s debut album never made it to No 1.
On Boxing Day 1970, George released All Things Must Pass , a triple album that included the classic My Sweet Lord and is considered to be the best of the post-Beatles albums from the Fab Four. It was certainly the first, recorded just months after the band’s break-up in 1970. It spent seven weeks at No 1 in the US – but went only as high as No 4 here, meaning George never had a solo UK No 1 album.
He died from lung cancer in 2001, never knowing quite how popular he had been in his own country. John Lennon achieved two No 1 albums. Paul McCartney has scored seven by himself and with Wings.
As the album chart celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, investigators at The Official UK Charts Company, which compiles the album and single charts, have found that George was robbed. Not only did All Things Must Pass actually reach No 1 in the UK but it stayed there for eight weeks and the records are now being changed to reflect that.
When she as told the news by the Sunday Express last night, George’s widow Olivia said: “He’d be thrllled. He’d love that it reached No 1 in the country in which he lived.” The official Guinness book of British Hit Singles and Album has already surreptitiously changed its entry.
During the eight weeks between February 6 and March 27, 1971, Simon and Garfunkel were placed No 1 with Bridge Over Troubled Water . It was the best-selling album of the Seventies and was No 1 for a total of 41 weeks but the strike had played havoc with the figures.
Darren Haynes, of The Official UK Charts Company, explained: “These days, barcodes and computers are used but in 1971 record shops had to fill in “diaries” of all sales and send them by post to the chart compiler. For those weeks in 1971, the strike resulted in no official album charts being included in Record Retailer, the official music business chart magazine.
“Historians let the last valid chart run across the missing weeks, meaning Simon and Garkunkel were given another eight weeks at the top but now All Things Must Pass has taken its rightful place as a No 1 album for the full eight week period.”
Words by Chris Goodman
Reprinted with kind permission of the Sunday Express.