A tribute to the most dedicated Beatles fans, ‘Apple Scruffs’ was a track on George Harrison’s third solo album All Things Must Pass, and the b-side of his ‘What Is Life’ single.

Of all The Beatles, Harrison probably least enjoyed the trappings of fame. It was he who, on a flight to San Francisco after their final tour date in August 1966, was heard to exclaim: “That’s it, then. I’m not a Beatle anymore.”

It is notable, then, that he would choose to pay tribute to his fans in song. The Apple Scruffs were the most loyal ones who kept vigil outside their homes, offices and recording sessions, often knowing the band’s whereabouts through a private social network.

There was always a little knot of them. They weren’t fashion model types, they were just little girls – just kids. He always took time to have a word with them, and I seem to remember him going out with tea for them sometimes when it was cold. I was impressed with how caring he was about these girls. I’ve been around a lot of other folks who have quite a different way of dealing with people, let’s put it that way.
Bobby Keys, saxophonist
Behind The Locked Door, Graeme Thomson

In the studio

‘Apple Scruffs’ was not among the songs demoed by Harrison for producer Phil Spector on 27 May 1970, suggesting that it was written after the album sessions began.

The first known recording was made on 24 June 1970. Harrison recorded a number of songs, including versions of ‘The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’, ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna)’, and ‘Sour Milk Sea’.

The album version was taped in Studio Three at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, on 25 June 1970. It was a solo Harrison performance, with all parts recorded, edited and mixed in a single session.

Harrison recorded eighteen takes of the song, although only eight (takes 2, 7, and 13-18) were complete. The master version was an edit of take 18 which lengthened the song by repeating the chorus.

The release

‘Apple Scruffs’ was first released on the second disc of Harrison’s All Things Must Pass triple album. It was the second track on side three.

‘What Is Life’ was issued as a single in some countries in February 1971, with ‘Apple Scruffs’ on the b-side.

In America the picture sleeve gave both songs equal billing, as did radio stations. That single also reversed the left and right stereo channels.

In Australia, ‘What Is Life’ and ‘Apple Scruffs’ were issued as a double a-side. The single topped the Go-Set National Top 60 in May 1971.

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