Harrison's 1971 hit single soars to top of charts again

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The Independent Culture

George Harrison's solo recording "My Sweet Lord", which first became a hit single 31 years ago, was at the top of the charts for the second time yesterday after being re-released as a charity tribute to the former Beatle.

Harrison's death from lung cancer seven weeks ago led to such renewed interest in his music that fans queued outside the Oxford Street branch of HMV in London to buy copies of the single when it was released last week.

This is the first time a single released after the artist's death has displaced another posthumous number one, in this case "More Than A Woman" by Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in August, aged 22.

Profits from "My Sweet Lord" will go to charities including Children in Need and the Great Ormond St Children's Hospital, as well as the Material World Charitable Foundation, set up by Harrison in 1973 to help poor children.

The record, Harrison's only number one single of his solo career, made him the first Beatle to have a hit in his own right. John Lennon's hit singles had been made with his wife, Yoko Ono, and the Plastic Ono Band.

However, the record's success was tarnished after it was first released, because Harrison lost a case in which he was sued for plagiarism by the publishers of the Chiffons' 1964 hit "He's So Fine", and had to pay $1.6m (£1.1m) compensation. Harrison had only seven more top 10 hits, the biggest of which was "Got My Mind Set On You" which reached number two in 1987.

His widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, 23, agreed to the single being re-released by EMI after strong public demand, but insisted the cash went to a fund administered by the Material World Charitable Foundation.

A spokesman for EMI said: "We are very happy that the reissue of 'My Sweet Lord' continues to spread George Harrison's music and message around the world. It's especially appropriate that the Material World Charitable Foundation, a charity that George set up some time ago, will benefit from the profits."

Other charities that will benefit are Jubilee Action, BBC Children In Need, Macmillan Nurses, Médecins Sans Frontières and the National Deaf Children's Society.