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In 1967, The Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour, a film that George Harrison admittedly found confusing. He said that the movie was half-baked. They didn’t have a director, a script, or even a completely solid idea of what they wanted to make. Harrison said he never had any idea what he was doing on set. Still, he believed that the project ended up helping the band.

A black and white picture of George Harrison wearing an oversized coat, sunglasses, and hat and sitting in a field.
George Harrison | Chapman/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Harrison said The Beatles’ film ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ didn’t make sense to him

The Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour in 1967. The film follows a group of people on a bus tour. While the band understood the premise, they didn’t have a script. Harrison admitted that this made it difficult to understand what was happening.

“It was basically a charabanc trip, which people used to go on from Liverpool to see the Blackpool lights — they’d get loads of crates of beer and all get pissed (in the English sense),” he said in The Beatles Anthology. “It was very flimsy, and we had no idea what we were doing. At least, I didn’t. I had no idea what was happening, and maybe I didn’t pay enough attention because my problem, basically, was that I was in another world.”

Still, he said that there was one notable positive to making the movie. They needed help on certain parts of the movie, and they found people who were able to assist them. This proved beneficial in future business dealings.

“There were a number of people whose help we called upon,” he said. “Denis O’Dell was one — I think he’d been an associate producer on A Hard Day’s Night, and later he was brought in to have something to do with Apple. We were in need of having a grown-up person, a father figure, in the business side of the film. In one respect Magical Mystery Tour was probably quite good, because it got us doing something; it got us out and got us together.”

‘Magical Mystery Tour’ changed The Beatles’ dynamic, but maybe not to their benefit

John Lennon also noted a change in band dynamic during Magical Mystery Tour. He didn’t necessarily think it was a good one, though.

“I was still under a false impression,” Lennon said. “I still felt every now and then that Brian [Epstein] would come in and say, ‘It’s time to record,’ or, ‘Time to do this.’ And Paul started doing that: ‘Now we’re going to make a movie. Now we’re going to make a record.’ And he assumed that if he didn’t call us, nobody would ever make a record. Paul would say, well, now he felt like it — and suddenly I’d have to whip out twenty songs. He’d come in with about twenty good songs and say, ‘We’re recording.’ And I suddenly had to write a f***ing stack of songs.”

New business relationships would have helped the band. This shift in the band dynamic did not, though. With Paul McCartney taking on more responsibilities and driving the group’s content came resentment from his bandmates. McCartney’s demands in the studio weren’t to blame for the band’s breakup, but it didn’t help morale. If this dynamic developed on the set of Magical Mystery Tour, it did little to help the group, particularly because of how poorly it was received.

George Harrison was already checked out of The Beatles at this point

Harrison noticed the shifting dynamic as well. He explained that he felt checked out of the band at this point.

“This is where Paul felt somebody had to try to do something; and so he decided he’d push what he felt,” he said. “As for me, I didn’t really belong; I was just an appendage.”


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He admitted that he did what the band wanted him to do, but his heart wasn’t in it.

“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,” he said, (via Beatles Interviews). “I’m willing to go along with it, you know, if they want me to be a Beatle then I’ll be one.”