Song Author: George Harrison

Year Recorded: 1980


All Those Years Ago

Single by George Harrison from the album Somewhere in England
B-side “Writing’s on the Wall”
Released 11 May 1981 (US)
15 May 1981 (UK)
Format Vinyl 45
Recorded F.P.S.H.O.T. 19 November 1980 – 25 November 1980, early 1981 (new lead vocal and backing vocals)
Genre Rock
Length 3:42
Label Dark Horse
Writer(s) George Harrison
Producer George Harrison & George Martin

“All Those Years Ago” is a song written by George Harrison, released as a single from the album Somewhere in England.

The song was a personal tribute to former bandmate John Lennon, who was murdered on 8 December 1980.

It was released on 11 May 1981 in the United States, where it spent three weeks at #2 on
the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and on 15 May 1981 in the United Kingdom, where it reached #13 on the UK Singles Chart.

In addition, the song spent one week at #1 on the American adult contemporary chart, Harrison’s first #1 on this chart as a solo artist.

It has also been included on two Harrison compilations: Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 and Let It Roll:

Songs by George Harrison, and in a live incarnation on his Live in Japan album. In 2010, AOL radio listeners chose “All Those Years Ago” as one of the 10 Best George Harrison Songs, appearing at #6 on the list.

Harrison originally wrote the song with different lyrics for Ringo Starr to record. Although he recorded it, Starr felt the vocal was too high for his range and he did not like the words.

Harrison took the track back and, after Lennon’s death, the lyrics were changed to reflect a tribute to Harrison’s lost friend and colleague, John Lennon. In the song, Harrison makes reference to The Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” and the Lennon song “Imagine” (“you were the one who imagined it all”).

Band lineupThe recording of the song featured all three remaining Beatles (Harrison, Starr and Paul McCartney), though this was expressly a Harrison single.

It is one of only a few non-Beatles songs to feature three members of the group. Harrison and Starr recorded the song at Harrison’s Friar Park studios between 19 November 1980 and 25 November 1980. After Lennon’s death the following month, Harrison removed Starr’s vocals (but left Starr’s drumming track) and recorded his own vocals with rewritten lyrics honouring Lennon.

McCartney, his wife Linda and their Wings bandmate Denny Laine visited Friar Park to record backing vocals.

The lineup was rounded out by Al Kooper on keyboards. The album’s liner notes also thank the Beatles’ producer George Martin and the Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick, although what contribution (if any) they made to the track is unclear.

The track’s sweetly elegiac string arrangements suggest Martin’s own distinctive style. This was the first time Harrison, McCartney and Starr had recorded together since the three (without Lennon) had worked on Harrison’s song “I Me Mine” for the Beatles album, Let It Be.

It would be the last time these three would record together until the sessions for “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” for The Beatles Anthology in the mid-1990s.

Music videoThe music video features a slide show-type presentation of stills and short archival video clips. The emphasis is on Lennon and, to a lesser degree, Harrison. The archival Beatles video was seemingly chosen to showcase the two together. The post-Beatles stills of Lennon at older ages are countered with stills of Harrison from the same time frame.


George Harrison – Lead Vocal, Lead Guitar
Paul McCartney – Backing Vocal
Linda McCartney – Backing Vocal
Denny Laine – Backing Vocal
Al Kooper – Keyboard
Willie Weeks or Herbie Flowers – Bass
Ringo Starr – Drums
George Martin – producer