How George Harrison Rejected Crosby, Stills, & Nash

How George Harrison Rejected Crosby, Stills, & Nash | I Love Classic Rock Videos

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When David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash heard The Beatles for the first time, they were instantly fans. Sadly, when it came time for their own music to be heard by a member of The Beatles, they didn’t get the response they hoped for. George Harrison, the famous guitarist and singer from The Beatles, decided not to sign the up-and-coming group to the Beatles’ record label, Apple Records, in 1969. Apple Records was a big deal, having been started by The Beatles themselves just a year earlier. Looking back, considering how successful Crosby, Stills, & Nash (eventually joined by Neil Young to become Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young) became, it’s clear that things worked out in the end. But, at the time, being rejected surely hurt.

The Beatles’ George Harrison Passed on Signing Crosby, Stills, & Nash

David Crosby mentioned later on how Harrison might have felt about his decision not to sign them. After preparing for months, the trio flew from Los Angeles to London to perform live in front of Harrison and Peter Asher, the A&R chief for Apple Records. Unfortunately, they were not chosen to join the label. Crosby shared his thoughts on Twitter, saying, “Apple passed on a number one record there. Ahh well…everybody makes mistakes. Bet they regretted it later.”

Graham Nash also shared his disappointment in a 2015 interview with The Guardian. Nash said, “We were rehearsing the first record, and we had our s*** down. To hear ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ in our living room was pretty f***ing impressive. And they turned us down.”

The Turning Point for Crosby and The Byrds

The rejection was particularly tough because of their intense admiration for The Beatles, and George Harrison in particular. In an interview with MusicRadar, Crosby recalled the profound influence The Beatles had on him. He shared that before witnessing The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, he aspired to be a folk artist. However, after seeing them, his ambition shifted to becoming a rock and roll musician. His band, The Byrds, drew significant inspiration from The Beatles’ style and music. “We took our guitar cues from The Beatles,” Crosby said. “I had the Tennessean, the Country Gentleman, and Roger [McGuinn] had the Rickenbacker. My whole attitude was, ‘If it’s good enough for George Harrison, it’s good enough for me.’ I wanted to be like George.”

Despite the setback in London, Crosby, Stills, & Nash went on to have a successful career without the backing of Apple Records. They signed with Atlantic Records when they returned to California and remained good friends with The Beatles.

Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s experience with Apple Records didn’t work out as hoped. They didn’t make it with a record label they admired, but they didn’t give up. Instead, they found another way to share their music and became very successful. Their story tells us that getting a ‘no’ from someone important doesn’t mean you should stop. It’s more about trusting in your own abilities and finding a different way to succeed.