Dark Horse was George Harrison’s third solo album since the break-up of The Beatles.
I’m a musician, not a talker. If you get my album it’s like Peyton Place. I mean it’ll tell you exactly what I’ve been doing.
Press conference, 23 October 1974
The album was released on The Beatles’ Apple Records, despite Harrison having set up his own Dark Horse Records in 1974. He remained contracted to Apple until January 1976, along with the other former Beatles.
Dark Horse was recorded during a period of turbulence for Harrison. He split up with his first wife Pattie Boyd, produced albums for Splinter and Ravi Shankar, set up Dark Horse Records, dealt with various legal issues relating to The Beatles and their former business manager Allen Klein, and undertook his only tour of North America, its dates beset by Harrison’s vocal problems.
There was a bad domestic year, 1974. All that splitting up around the house. ‘Simply Shady’ that song is about it. At the same time I was doing a Splinter album and a Ravi Shankar album and my own album and then during rehearsals, I was trying to finish my album and in the end [business manager] Denis O’Brien carried me out of the studio to my first concert (in Canada) because I was trying to finish the album in time to get it out to coincide with the tour, which is the way the ‘business’ needs it.
I Me Mine
The album was not a critical or commercial success, and did not chart in Britain – Harrison’s first solo album not to do so. He lost the momentum and goodwill from his previous successes All Things Must Pass, ‘My Sweet Lord’, and The Concert For Bangladesh, and his commercial fortunes never recovered.
It remains, however, an unusually personal and revealing album, with Harrison encroaching on John Lennon’s traditional territory by opting to sing his life. Dark Horse deals with marital breakdown, sorrow, drink and drugs, friendships, new love, and self-doubt. Yet there was hope at its heart: during its creation he began a new relationship with Olivia Arias, whom he would marry in 1978.