All Those Years Ago

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"All Those Years Ago"
UK picture sleeve
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 FPSHOT, 19–25 November 1980, early 1981 (new lead vocal and backing vocals)
Genre Rock
Length 3:42
Label Dark Horse
Writer(s) George Harrison
Producer(s) George Harrison, Ray Cooper
George Harrison singles chronology
"All Those Years Ago"
Somewhere in England track listing
"Life Itself"
"All Those Years Ago"
"Baltimore Oriole"

"All Those Years Ago" is a song by English musician George Harrison, released as a single from his 1981 album Somewhere in England. Having previously recorded the music for the song, Harrison tailored the lyrics to serve as a personal tribute to his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon, following the latter's murder on 8 December 1980. The recording also includes performances by ex-Beatles Ringo Starr, on drums, and Paul McCartney, who overdubbed backing vocals onto the basic track. Released in May 1981, the single spent three weeks at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. In addition, it topped Canada's RPM singles chart and spent one week at number 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary listings.[1]

"All Those Years Ago" was the first time that Harrison, McCartney and Starr had appeared on the same recording since the Beatles' "I Me Mine" in 1970, and the last time they would appear together until "Free As a Bird", in 1995. Other musicians performing on the track include Al Kooper and Ray Cooper. The song has appeared on the Harrison compilations Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 and Let It Roll, and a live version recorded in 1991 with Eric Clapton was included on Harrison's Live in Japan double album. In 2010, AOL Radio listeners voted "All Those Years Ago" in sixth place on a list of the "10 Best George Harrison Songs".[2] The track has been featured in books such as 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download by Robert Dimery, and Bruce Pollock's The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000.[3]


Prior to Lennon's death, 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.[citation needed] 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 lineup[edit]

The 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 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.[4] The lineup was rounded out by Al Kooper on keyboards, Herbie Flowers on bass and percussionist Ray Cooper. The album's liner notes also thank the Beatles' former producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick. Harrison co-produced the recording with percussionist Ray Cooper. The three would later record "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" for The Beatles Anthology in the mid 1990s.

Music video[edit]

The 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 post-Beatles stills of Lennon at older ages are countered with stills of Harrison from the same time frame.


Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[5] 9
Austrian Singles Chart[6] 14
Belgian Ultratop Singles Chart[6] 38
Canadian RPM Top Singles[7] 1
Dutch Singles Chart[6] 43
Irish Singles Chart[8] 4
New Zealand Singles Chart[9] 14
Norwegian Singles Chart[6] 2
Swiss Singles Chart[6] 8
Swedish Singles Chart[6] 11
UK Singles Chart[10] 13
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 2
West German Media Control Singles Chart[12] 44

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition, 1996
  2. ^ Dickinson, Boonsri. "10 Best George Harrison Songs". AOL. 
  3. ^ "George Harrison 'All Those Years Ago'". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Badman, Keith (1999). The Beatles After the Breakup 1970-2000: A day-by-day diary. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-7520-5. 
  5. ^ "Top Singles of 1981 (Australia)". Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "George Harrison – All Those Years Ago". Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "George Harrison". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Search by Artist > George Harrison", (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  9. ^ "George Harrison – All Those Years Ago". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Artist: George Harrison". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Awards: George Harrison". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Single – George Harrison, All Those Years Ago". Retrieved 9 December 2014.