50 Years Ago: How Derek and the Dominos Grew Out of George Harrison’s Debut

All Things Must Pass did more than launch George Harrison’s post-Beatles solo career. The triple-album set, issued on Nov. 27, 1970, provided a platform for the launch of Derek and the Dominos.

Harrison had hit it off with drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Carl Radle and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock while sitting in with Delaney & Bonnie during a 1969 tour. He was already friends with Eric Clapton, who collaborated with Harrison on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Cream’s “Badge.”

All four of them were on hand as sessions for All Things Must Pass got underway in May 1970. They appeared together and apart throughout the studio portion of the project – that’s Whitlock, for instance, at the pump organ on “My Sweet Lord” – and served as the house band for the album-closing jam sessions.

“I mean, we used to do that ourselves, you know, the Fabs, back in the early days,” Harrison told Billboard in 2000. “So you’d have a break, somebody’d go to the toilet, they have a cigarette, and next minute you’d break into a jam session and the engineer taped it on a two-track. When we were mixing the album and getting toward the end of it, I listened to that stuff, and I thought, ‘It’s got some fire in it,’ particularly Eric. He plays some hot stuff on there!”

The first two Derek and the Dominos studio cuts were taped during these initial dates, though both were re-recorded for official release later.

“We made a deal whereby [Harrison] would get [co-producer Phil] Spector to produce a couple of tracks for us in return for having the use of our band for his album,” Clapton later remembered in his memoir, Clapton: The Autobiography. “We recorded two songs with him, ‘Roll It Over’ and ‘Tell the Truth,’ at Abbey Road Studios, before turning ourselves over to George as his session musicians.”

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