Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 24, 1968

Hey Jude - Still Number One!

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 23, 1968

The interview took place at John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s temporary basement flat in London -- a flat where Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr and William Burroughs, among others, have stayed. But the flat seemed as much John and Yoko’s as the Indian incense that took over the living room. The walls were covered with photos of John, of Yoko, a giant Sgt. Pepper ensign, Richard Chamberlain’s poster collage of news clippings of the Stones bust, the Time magazine cover of the Beatles.

We arrived at five on the afternoon of September 17, said hello to gallery owner Robert Fraser, who had arranged the interview, and to John and Yoko, sitting together, looking “tres bien ensemble”. We sat down around a simple wooden table covered with magazines, newspapers, sketch paper, boxes, drawings, a beaded necklace shaped in the form of a pentangle.

John said he had to be at a recording session in half an hour, so we talked for a while about John’s show at the Fraser Gallery. John wrote some reminders to himself in the wonderfully intense absorbed way that a kid has painting the sun for the first time. As a philosopher once remarked: "Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness." When we arrived the next afternoon, September 18, John was walking around the room, humming what sounded like “Hold Me Tight” -- just singing the song to the air. Old '50's forty-fives were scattered about the floor, and John played Rosie and the Originals’ version of “Give Me Love.” We talked about the lyrics of Gene Vincent’s “Woman Love.” In spite of having slept only two hours, John asked us to sit down on the floor and begin the interview.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 22, 1968

If there’s one word to describe The Beatles’ ninth studio album, it’s “chaos.”

There was so much going on in the worlds of John, Paul George and Ringo. For starters, the band was coming off the massive success of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They then founded Apple Corps Ltd., which drained a bunch of money. The Beatles then got all up in Transcendental Meditation and spent some time in India, where they wrote most of the album.

Oh…and the recording of “The While Album” was the time when John Lennon first starting seeing Yoko Ono, who was often present at Abbey Road Studios, which was odd considering The Beatles up until that point worked alone.

While the 30-track double album brought forth an incredibly diverse set of music, it was a sign that it was the beginning of the end. Each Beatle worked on their own songs separately and only worked with their band mates when necessary. Despite this divide and tension, The Beatles still managed to deliver one of the most bold albums in the history of rock.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 21, 1968

Today George Harrison was in a recording session for the British band Cream to record the song Badge. It took place at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles. Badge was written by Harrison and Eric Clapton.

Badge was produced by Felix Pappalardi, who had worked with Cream since their Disraeli Gears album and the song was credited to Clapton and Harrison on the UK single.

Harrison performs rhythm guitar on Badge and Clapton plays midway through the song.

Guitar Player Interview, 1987:

Q: I always wondered about, speaking of collaboration, “Badge,” the bridge part where the guitarist played through the Leslie. Is that you?

GH: No, that’s where Eric enters. On the record Eric doesn’t play guitar up until that bridge. So there was Felix, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and me. I played the rhythm, the chops. And we played the song right up to the bridge, at which point Eric came in on the guitar on the Leslie. And then he overdubbed the solo part later.

Q: Did he write all the music?

GH: I wrote most of the words. Eric had that bridge, definitely. And he had a couple of chords I think. He called me up saying, “look, you know we’re doing this last album and we’ve all got to have our song by Monday,” or something. He came by and I think he had the first couple of chord changes, and then I joined in and finished the verses off. And then he had the middle bit already. I think I wrote most of the words to the song but he was there, and we bounced off of each other.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 20, 1968

After the completion of the White Album, The Beatles worked on their own projects or just took a break. With the group unable or unwilling to pull together to promote the album, Paul McCartney gave an interview on this day to Radio Luxembourg.

The interview took place at McCartney's home in London. Paul mmented only on songs he had written or sung on, with the exceptions of Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Good Night.

Tony Macurthur conducted the interview and expressed surprise that the album was not a progression from Sgt Pepper, to which McCartney explained "It's another step, but it's not necessarily in the way people expected." He also said the songs were easier to perform live, hinting at a return to the stage after two years away.

The show was first broadcast on November 20th, in a special two-hour show on the album. It also contained contributions, recorded separately, from Judith Simons, the Daily Express newspaper's pop correspondent.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 19, 1968
The #1 song on November 19, 1968
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 18, 1968

Hey Jude is Number One!

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 17, 1968


In November 1968, George Harrison stopped by during a taping of the CBS-TV program 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,' for an impromptu cameo appearance. In this brief chat which would air on November 17th, George joked with Tommy and Dick about the on-going network censorship of their show.

In previous weeks, the Smothers Brothers had exclusive Amercian-TV rights for airing the promotional films for 'Hey Jude' and 'Revolution,' the Beatles latest no. 1 single.

Tommy Smothers would later remember: "Beatle George Harrison was on this show. He makes a surprise appearance and surprised everybody." Dick Smothers added: "Back then in that year, The Beatles were the biggest thing in the entire universe. And to have George Harrison just stop on by to wish us luck and say 'Go on, keep doing it,' it was a real coup."

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was a cutting edge program featuring top-name musical guests and politcal satire. The program was often censored for politcal reasons which baffled Tom Smothers, who contractually had creative control over the scripts. The show would be cancelled in 1969 because of tensions with the network - tensions stemming from the fact that the show's political views did not agree with those of the CBS network president at the time. The Smothers Brothers would sue CBS on the grounds that the network did not have proper grounds to terminate their mutual contract. In the end, the Smothers Brothers did prevail in that court case.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour ran from February 1967 until it was cancelled in April 1969. Staff writers on the show included Rob Reiner and a young up-and-coming Steve Martin.

DICK SMOTHERS: "Tommy has a special guest and he'd like to introduce him right now."

TOMMY SMOTHERS: "That's right. I have a Beatle!"

(sudden surprised screams from the girls in the audience)

DICK: "Yea, but it's not the kind of 'beetle' you would expect it to be."

(audience moans with disappointment)

TOMMY: "It's the kind of Beatle that I think you hoped it would be! Ladies and gentlemen, Mister George Harrison!"

(girls scream as George runs out, audience roars, excited ovation continues until George quiets them)

TOMMY: "Several weeks ago we had on... Your people did Hey Jude."

GEORGE: (sings) "Heey Juuude!"

TOMMY: "And Revolution."

(audience applauds and cheers)

DICK: "Beautiful. We thought... Tommy and I both thought that Hey Jude was the best presentation we've ever seen of The Beatles. And we're glad it was on our show."

GEORGE: "Yea. So are we!"


GEORGE: (jokingly to Tom) "Have you met my brother Dick?"

GEORGE: (introducing them to each other) "Let me introduce you... this is Tommy, and this is my brother Dick."

(laughter as they shake hands)

TOMMY: (to Dick) "I've enjoyed your work."

DICK: (to Tom) "You look different in person."

GEORGE: "It's all the makeup. Too much makeup."

TOMMY: (to George) "You have something important?"

GEORGE: "Something very important to say on American television."

TOMMY: "You know, a lot of times we don't have opportunity to say anything important... BECAUSE it's American television."


TOMMY: "Everytime you try to say something important they uhh..." (makes gesture of pushing a censor button)

DICK: (makes gesture of cutting across throat)


GEORGE: "Well, whether you can say it or not, keep TRYING to say it!"

TOMMY: "That's what's important?"

GEORGE: "You got that? Yea. It's very important."

(someone off-screen hurries them to finish)

GEORGE: (to the person off-screen) "Cue, cue, cue... Aye, just a minute! Just a minute!"

TOMMY: (to the stage crew) "Wait a second..."

GEORGE: "OK... Cue the clap NOW!!"

(audience applauds on cue)

GEORGE: (bangs hands together fast) "Yay!!"

TOMMY: "Ladies and gentlemen, Mister George Harrison."

Source: Transcribed by from video copy of the television program

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 16, 1968


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: November 15, 1968

George Harrisson was a guest on The Smothers Brother CBS variety show on tis date filmed at CBS-TV Studio in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Harrison's appearance on the show took place in front of a live audience. The other guests were The Committee, Dion, Jennifer Warnes and Donovan. Harrison wore a leather jacket, frilly yellow shirt and green striped trousers.

The show was broadcast two days later, on Sunday, November 17th.