The Beatles in IndiaBack to chapters
the Beatles had put the Magical Mystery Tour project behind
them, they almost immediately headed for new adventures.
In February 1968, the band traveled to Rishikesh in India
to study Transcendental Meditation under the Indian meditation
guru Maharishi. Some have also said the purpose of the stay
was to clear their minds after some heavy use of chemicals
drugs, which had persisted over time.
in the Rishikesh community was also folk singer Donovan.
Interestingly, he taught the Beatles a particular finger
picking guitar style, which can be traced in many of the
songs they wrote in India, such as Lennon's Dear
Prudence and McCartney's Blackbird.
Beatle to leave India was Ringo, who returned to London
in early March. McCartney soon followed, while Lennon and
Harrison left in April.
Lennon lost trust in Maharishi, because he allegedly had
made sexual advances to a female member of the community
(This apparently inspired Lennon to write the song Sexy
the Beatles returned from India with plenty of new material,
and in May 1968 they began recording their next album, which
would be given the title The
Beatles (AKA the "White Album" because of
its white cover).
the White Album sessions, the Beatles had been very careful
of inviting outsiders to the studio. They would sometimes
invite guests on very special occasions, such as on June
25 1967, when they performed All You Need Is Love in front
of 400 million TV viewers worldwide. On that occasion, friends
such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull,
Eric Clapton, Graham Nash and Keith Moon of the Who were
invited to join in.
was an exception. There were rarely guests in the studio
during ordinary sessions. The only people who were present
on a regular basis, in addition to George Martin and his
engineers, was Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, who acted as
roadies, carrying and setting up equipment.
that was before John turned up with his lover, Yoko Ono.
had first been introduced to the Japanese artists at an
exhibition in November 1966. By June 1968, when the recording
of the White Album began, Yoko was in the studio every minute
John was there. The two were inseparable.
Yoko never said much, the constant presence of an outsider
annoyed the other three members. Or perhaps it was more
the fact that John gave her a lot of attention and sometimes
asked for her musical opinion. Nevertheless, things would
never be the same again after that, as Beatles engineer
Geoff Emerick points out in his book:
recognized the impact of her being there from the very first
day. And from that point, everything was different."
describes how the atmosphere in the studio gradually got
worse and worse, until he one day had enough and walked
out. He did not return before the recording of Abbey Road.
got fed up and left the band, but he came back a few days
later. On his return, he was greeted by a studio decorated
in flowers, and a message on his drum kit which read: Welcome
the tense atmosphere continued. As George Harrison later
summed it up: "[By 1968] the rot had already set in."
the four Beatles were now working more separately in the
studio, often in different rooms. They also became shy of
offering opinions and suggestions to each other. Songs like Martha
My Dear and Mother
Nature's Son were sheer solo recordings by McCartney,
and only Ringo was asked to help out on Why
Don't We Do It In The Road?
October 1968, the Beatles had recorded 30 songs which they
decided to release as a double-album, despite producer George
Martin's suggestion to cut it down to one single LP.
view is shared by many, and perhaps not all the songs on
the White Album are up to the high standard expected from
the Beatles. Others hold the album as their all time favorite,
because of its incredible diversity and unusual mix of songs.
It is also worth to mention that Paul McCartney has spoken
highly of the album in recent years.
(AKA the White Album) was released in November 1968, to
mixed reviews from the critics. It was a best-seller around
the world, however, and sold nearly two million copies within
the first week in the US alone.
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