Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 17, 1968

The Beatles visiting India…

The Beatles travelled to India to stay and study Transcendental Meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh. In its effect on Western spirituality, this was probably ‘the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness.’


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 16, 1968

John Lennon and George Harrison arrive in Rishikesh

John and Cynthia Lennon, and George and Pattie Harrison arrived in Delhi at 8.15am, having flown overnight from London Airport.

They were met in Delhi by The Beatles' assistant Mal Evans, who had arrived there on 14 February, and Mia Farrow.

Evans had organised three taxis to take the group from Delhi to Rishikesh, where they were to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was a journey of some 150 miles.

Our arrival at Delhi went very much unheralded. We were bundled unmolested and travel-weary into three battered, ancient Indian taxis without all the usual fuss and frantic rush. It was wonderfully refreshing and stress free. After alighting from the taxis, we were shown to our living quarters. They consisted of a number of stone-built bungalows, set in groups along a rough road. Flowers and shrubs surrounded them and were carefully tended by an Indian gardener whose work speed was dead slow, and stop. (Cynthia Lennon)

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 15, 1968

John Lennon and George Harrison fly to India

The Beatles' long-planned trip to India finally got underway on this day, with John Lennon and George Harrison, plus their wives Cynthia and Pattie, and Pattie's sister Jenny, flying from London Airport to Delhi, India.

The trip had been due to take place in the summer of 1967, but was postponed following the death of Brian Epstein. The Beatles had chosen instead to press on with the making of Magical Mystery Tour.

The Indian excursion was to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his ashram in Rishikesh, where they stayed until 12 April.

Source: Beatles Bible


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 14, 1968

Mal Evans flies to India

The Beatles' assistant Mal Evans gathered together luggage belonging to George and Pattie Harrison, her sister Jenny, plus John and Cynthia Lennon, to take it to India ahead of their trip to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Evans took Qantas flight 754 to Delhi, flying from London Airport. There was a charge of £195.19.6d for the excess baggage, a considerable sum in 1968.

His early flight was in order to arrange the necessary transport for the group when they arrived early on 16 February.



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 13, 1968

The Beatles in-between recording.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 12, 1968

The Beatles in-between recording.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 11, 1968

Recording, mixing: Hey Bulldog

Just days before they were due to fly to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Beatles recorded Hey Bulldog, a brand new John Lennon song, during the filming of a promotional clip for Lady Madonna.

The group gathered in Abbey Road's Studio Three at 4pm to be filmed by NEMS employee Tony Bramwell. While there, The Beatles decided to put their time to good use, and recorded the new song.

On February 11, they recorded Hey Bulldog at Abbey Road, while I filmed the entire process. We didn't need any promo material for Bulldog, but Paul had also recorded Lady Madonna, the song he had written in memory of his mother, which did need some promotional film. I cut the Bulldog shoot, using the bits of the lads playing and sitting about in the studio, and we used that. Then it vanished, completely disappeared. We thought it had been stolen, as things often were if not nailed down. (Over thirty years later, in August 1999, my original film was rediscovered and used with a reissue of Bulldog to go with the revamped digital version of Yellow Submarine.)

Tony Bramwell
Magical Mystery Tours

In fact, three separate clips were edited from the footage, and variously included effects such as filters, double exposures, and extra material filmed at the session for Cilla Black's song Step Inside Love, written by Paul McCartney and recorded in November 1967.

The most common Lady Madonna clip begins with an overhead shot of Ringo Starr on drums, and ends with footage of McCartney from the Step Inside Love session, picking up his coat and guitar and leaving the studio. A lesser-seen variation begins with Starr in a coat and tie and features George Harrison eating a plate of beans.

A third version was created for Anthology in the 1990s, combining elements from both clips plus footage from the 30 July 1968 session for Hey Jude.

Hey Bulldog was recorded in 10 takes, with Lennon on piano, McCartney shaking a tambourine, Harrison on rhythm guitar and Starr on drums. McCartney then overdubbed a bass guitar part onto track two of take 10, accompanied by Harrison playing the main riff on a distorted guitar and additional off-beat snare drum from Starr.

Lennon and McCartney then shared a single microphone to record the vocals, reading from Lennon's handwritten lyrics. This included banter and howling during the song's ending.

I remember Hey Bulldog as being one of John's songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it's mainly his vibe. There's a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

After Bramwell had finished filming, final overdubs were added. These included the lead guitar solo, performed on George Harrison's Gibson SG Standard, although the identity of the player is uncertain.

Once recording was complete, two mono mixes of Hey Bulldog were made. The second of these was then given to King Features, who made an animated sequence for the Yellow Submarine film to accompany the song.

The mixes were made with the tape machine running slightly faster - 51 cycles per second rather than the usual 50 - which raised the pitch and tempo of the song slightly. Artificial double tracking (ADT) was also used.

That was a really fun song. We were all into sound texture in those days and during the mixing we put ADT on one of the 'What did he say? Woof woof' bits near the end of the song. It came out really well.

Source: Geoff Emerick - The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 10, 1968

The Beatles are in-between recording.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 9, 1968

The Beatles took a short break.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 8, 1968

Recording, mixing: The Inner Light, Across The Universe

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott

There were two scheduled recording sessions on this day. The first took place from 2.30-9pm and saw the completion of The Inner Light and further work on Across The Universe, while the second was a mixing session from 10pm to 12.15am.

The Inner Light was the first to be completed. George Harrison double-tracked his vocals for the final "arrive without traveling" line, and was joined by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on "do all without doing". Three mono mixes, numbered 2-4, were then created and work on the song was complete.

The Beatles then turned their attentions to Lennon's song Across The Universe. A track containing backwards bass and drums was erased and replaced with wordless three-part harmonies from Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. An organ part by George Martin and Mellotron by Lennon were also taped and discarded, and the final overdub was electric guitar played through a volume pedal, plus maracas and piano.

Comedian Spike Milligan was present at the session; he and Ringo Starr had appeared in an edition of Cilla Black's television show Cilla two days previously on 6 February 1968. Since Lady Madonna and The Inner Light had both been selected for The Beatles' next single, Milligan asked if it could be used for a charity album to benefit the World Wildlife Fund.

Two mono mixes created on this night were never issued, but they did include the wildlife effects that can be heard on the Past Masters collection.

The effects were most likely added on this day, and were taken from the Abbey Road library; they included the sounds of children playing and birds twittering and flying. One of this day's mixes was played by The Beatles at the end of the 7 January 1969 Get Back/Let It Be session, to remind themselves of the song's structure.

The World Wildlife Fund album was eventually released on 12 December 1969 as No One's Gonna Change Our World, with Across The Universe as the opening song. The mix which was used was created on 2 October that year.