The artwork

All Things Must Pass was a triple vinyl album, housed inside a box with a hinged lid. The box was designed by Tom Wilkes of Camouflage Productions.

The design was unusual in rock music at the time, being more commonly associated with classical or operatic releases.

The cover artwork was taken on the main lawn of Harrison’s home Friar Park by Barry Feinstein, Wilkes’ partner at Camouflage. It depicted a seated Harrison, wearing wellington boots and surrounded by four languishing garden gnomes.

All Things Must Pass album artwork - George Harrison

The gnomes had recently been delivered to Friar Park. By making Harrison loom over the quartet, the image was perceived as a commentary on the new album in comparison to The Beatles.

Originally, when we took the photo I had these old Bavarian gnomes which I thought I would put there, like kinda… John, Paul, George and Ringo. Gnomes are very popular in Europe and these gnomes were made in about 1860.
George Harrison
Yahoo!, 15 February 2001

A poster and lyric sheet were included with the box set. The poster had a photograph of Harrison standing before an ornate iron-framed window inside Friar Park.

The release

All Things Must Pass was originally planned for an October 1970 release, but mixing was not completed until the middle of that month.

On 28 October, George and Pattie Harrison arrived in New York, where he and Phil Spector undertook final preparations for the release.

The last batch of edits, mastering and sequencing were done at Mediasound Studios in early November, after which All Things Must Pass was complete.

At some point in the process, a three-disc set of production acetates was pressed. This did not include any of the ‘Apple Jam’ recordings, but instead contained the following running order:

This Side: ‘Art Of Dying’, ‘Apple Scruffs’, ‘The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’, ‘Awaiting On You All’, ‘All Things Must Pass’
That Side: ‘I Dig Love’, ‘What Is Life’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Version 2), ‘Hear Me Lord’
And Another Side: ‘I’d Have You Anytime’, ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Version One), ‘Beware Of Darkness’
The Other Side: ‘Wah-Wah’, ‘If Not For You’, ‘Behind That Locked Door’, ‘Let It Down’, ‘Run Of The Mill’

Since EMI and Capitol Records had expected to release All Things Must Pass in October, they began promoting it in September. This helped built anticipation and momentum before its eventual release on 27 November 1970 (30 November in the UK).

All Things Must Pass was the first triple album by a single act; Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More had predated it by six months.

‘My Sweet Lord’ was chosen as the first single, although Harrison vacillated over the release. On 23 October he announced the single to the press, only to change his mind three days later and declare: “I don’t want the single to detract from the impact of the All Things Must Pass triple album.”

The single was released in the US on 23 November. It contained a different mix from the album version, with less echo and different backing vocals.

Exceptional public demand and radio airplay forced Apple to belatedly release ‘My Sweet Lord’ as a single in the UK, on 15 January 1971. As in the US, the b-side was ‘What Is Life’, which was released as a single in its own right in some countries.

‘My Sweet Lord’ was an international number one at the end of 1970 and the early months of the new year. It was the first solo Beatles song to top the charts, and became the biggest seller by any member of the band in the 1970s.

All Things Must Pass was similarly successful, topping the album charts in Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK, and USA. It remained at number one in the UK for eight weeks, from 6 February to 27 March. In the USA the album topped the Billboard chart for seven weeks.

The album was also released as a double 8-track cartridge set, Apple 8XWB-639. This release, which sported the rarely-used red Apple logo, contained a different running order from the vinyl edition.

The first cartridge ran as follows: ‘I’d Have You Anytime’, ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Version One), ‘Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’, ‘What Is Life’, ‘Behind That Locked Door’, ‘Let It Down’, ‘Run Of The Mill’, ‘Art Of Dying’, ‘Beware Of Darkness’, ‘Wah-Wah’, ‘Apple Scruffs’, ‘Awaiting On You All’, ‘All Things Must Pass’, ‘I Dig Love’, ‘If Not For You’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Version Two), ‘Hear Me Lord’.

The second cartridge was devoted to the Apple Jams, and split some of the recordings: ‘Out Of The Blue’ (Part 1), ‘Out Of The Blue’ (conl.), ‘It’s Johnny’s Birthday’, ‘Plug Me In’, ‘I Remember Jeep’ (Part 1), ‘I Remember Jeep’ (concl.), ‘Thanks For The Pepperoni’.