Over a span of fourteen years, thirteen original Beatle albums, several
compilations and six solo albums were released. George looked forward to a change with such anticipation that in 1974
he created his own label. Although it would be two years before his contractual obligations were fulfilled, Dark Horse Records
was ready for George's arrival.
The Dark Horse label was distributed initially by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss's A&M
Records, situated at the old Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood. In October 1974, I was there to welcome
George to his new office. We shared the ground floor of a two-storey bungalow with Lou Adler's Ode Records. Having worked
at A&M for the previous two years I knew how much prestige George would bring to any record company. Not only had he been
in the Beatles, but after the break-up of the band, George's first solo album, All Things Must Pass, reached number
one. The Concert for Bangladesh and Living In the Material World were still fresh in our minds and George
was held in high esteem by us all.
George spent a good deal of time at the Dark Horse office while recording his own
album, Extra Texture, in A&M studios. Over two years, eight albums were released by artists on his label. Ravi
Shankar, the band Attitudes (with friend Jim Keltner), the duo Splinter from Sheffield (produced by George), R&B vocal
group The Stairsteps, ex-Joe Cocker guitarist Henry McCullough and a California band named Jiva made up the Dark Horse roster.
By the time George came to release Thirty Three & 1/3- his
first album for the label, Dark Horse had moved to Warner Bros. in Burbank. Mo Ostin had stepped in to sign George for what
would be the remainder of his solo music career, as well as two albums with The Traveling Wilburys. George enjoyed
the Warner family, even recruiting Warner Bros. staff for the video of 'This Song' from Thirty Three & 1/3 and
he remained close friend with Mo Ostin for the rest of his life.
George recorded six Dark Horse albums from 1976-1992.
They contained songs written while he was in the Beatles, including 'See Yourself' and 'Not Guilty' right up to 'Cheer Down',
written at the request of Dick Donner, the director of Lethal Weapon 2. Some of George's songs were featured in movies
made by his company, Handmade Films, including 'Shanghai Surprise' from the much-talked-about but little-seen Sean Penn and
Madonna movie and 'Dream Away' from Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits.
Listening to the albums in chronological
order, George's evolution as a songwriter, guitarist, and seeker are obvious. 'Mystical One' and 'Your Love is Forever' are
my favourite ballads; the type of love song Eric Clapton describes as spiritual love songs. In fact, George wrote 'Mystical
One' with Eric ('shimmering slow-hand') in mind. 'Devil's Radio' was his comment on gossip and 'Life Itself', 'Circles', and
'Dear One' clear expressions of his spirituality. He wrote for himself as well as others but without premeditation for commercial
success. Some of these albums received more acclaim that others. The reward was in the creation of his songs as well as the
companionship of other musicians during the recording sessions. All George's creativity, attention, and unexpressed emotion
went into his music. Once an album was delivered, the least enjoyable part for him (promotion and press) would commence. Sometimes
he cooperated wholeheartedly, sometimes not. Whatever the outcome, he did not wait around for approval before beginning the
writing process over again.
The Dark Horse had come full circle now- back with EMI/Parlophone since 2002- and the seven-headed
horse still spins George's name and music according to his own plan. George chose this symbol to be at the forefront of his
musical legacy- a legacy now firmly imprinted in this materical world and the spiritual sky beyond.