Was George Harrison's 'My Sweet Lord' Really A 'He's So Fine' Ripoff?

By Kellar Ellsworth
Left: George Harrison in Cannes on January 30, 1976, for the Midem music industry trade fair. Right: The Chiffons' single Harrison was said to have plagiarized. Sources: Michael Putland/Getty Images; Pinterest

If you've noticed George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" sounds a bit like "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons, you're not alone -- in 1976, a judge ruled that the ex-Beatle's big hit and spiritual declaration had ripped off the girl-group oldie. The accusation of plagiarism was news to Harrison, who swore up and down he didn't steal the melody. Well, not knowingly -- and that was, in fact, the rub in this important case. It turns out an artist can steal a tune without even knowing he or she is doing it, and can be held legally liable for what the judge called "subconscious" theft.