Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 20, 1968

The Beatles are in India and their approach to meditation was marked by a friendly competitiveness among the four band members. Lennon was complimentary about Harrison's progress, saying: "The way George is going, he'll be flying a magic carpet by the time he's forty." While Lennon was "evangelical in his enthusiasm for the Maharishi", according to his wife, Cynthia, she herself was "a little more sceptical". Cynthia later wrote that she "loved being in India" and had hoped she and Lennon would "rediscover our lost closeness"; to her disappointment, however, Lennon became "increasingly cold and aloof". The Lennons' room contained a "four-poster bed, a dressing table, a couple of chairs and an electric fire". Lennon played guitar, while his wife drew pictures and wrote poetry between their long meditation sessions. After two weeks Lennon asked to sleep in a separate room, saying he could only meditate when he was alone. Meanwhile, he walked to the local post office every morning to check for Ono's almost daily telegrams. One of these telegrams read: "Look up at the sky and when you see a cloud think of me".

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 19, 1968

Today singer Donovan travels to India and joins the Beatles to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 18, 1968

US single release: Lady Madonna

US single release: Lady Madonna

The single was released as Capitol 2138. As with the UK version, it had George Harrison's The Inner Light on the b-side.

Lady Madonna was not a great commercial success in America, and only managed to reach number four in the charts. It was, however, the last Beatles single to be released on Capitol; subsequent ones were one their own Apple label.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 17, 1968

Pattie Harrison celebrates her 24th birthday in India

Pattie Harrison celebrates her 24th birthday in India. George Harrison's wife Pattie celebrated her 24th birthday on this day in Rishikesh, India.

A number of photographs from this day were published in April 1968 in an edition of British music magazine Disc And Music Echo. They included Pattie being given her birthday cake, The Beatles with local entertainer Shah Jahan and flautist friend Paul Horn, George Harrison checking a yogi's pulse, and Paul McCartney playing a tamboura.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 16, 1968

The Beatles are in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 15, 1968

UK single release: Lady Madonna

Recorded before their trip to India, but released in their absence to sustain public interest in the group, The Beatles' 17th Parlophone single was released in the UK on this day.

Lady Madonna single - United KingdomLady Madonna was coupled with George Harrison's The Inner Light, the third and final of his Indian-style recordings with The Beatles.

The single was Parlophone R 5675. It entered the charts at number five on 20 March, and the following week reached the top spot. It spent two weeks at number one, and just eight weeks altogether in the charts.

Initial copies of Lady Madonna came with a fan club insert offering applicants a free colour poster.

A promotional film was made for the single. It was shot on 11 February 1968 inside EMI Studios at Abbey Road, while The Beatles recorded Hey Bulldog. The film was shown on BBC television's Top Of The Pops the day before Lady Madonna was released.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 14, 1968

A promotional film for Lady Madonna is broadcast in black and white on UK television, on the BBC1 program "Top of the Pops." The video portion of the film clip was shot while The Beatles were performing the song Hey Bulldog, but the Lady Madonna audio track was paired with the video for the promo release. It won't be until 1999 that the video is broadcast with its original Hey Bulldog soundtrack.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 13, 1968

The Beatles (except Ringo) are still in India

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 12, 1968


The Beatles were "very close and tight" at this time. Donovan taught Lennon a guitar finger-picking technique that he passed on to Harrison. The technique was subsequently implemented by Lennon on the Beatles songs "Julia" and "Dear Prudence". The latter was composed by Lennon to lure Prudence Farrow out of her intense meditation. Lennon later said: "She'd been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anyone else".

Another inspiration was hearing for the first time Bob Dylan's newly released album, John Wesley Harding. The stay at the ashram turned out to be one of the group's most creative periods. According to Lennon, he wrote some of the "most miserable" and some of his "best" songs while he was in Rishikesh. Both Lennon and McCartney often spent time composing rather than meditating, and even Starr wrote a song, "Don't Pass Me By", which was his first solo composition. Plans were discussed for a possible concert in Delhi to feature the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Donovan, and Paul Horn. While he also wrote several new songs in Rishikesh, Harrison complained that more time should be spent on meditating. When McCartney discussed his vision for an album containing the songs they had amassed so far, Harrison replied: "We're not fucking here to do the next album. We're here to meditate!"

Many of the songs were inspired by nature and reflected the simplicity of life at the ashram, and so contrasted markedly with the band's psychedelic work over the previous year, but few of them were overtly reflective of the TM experience.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 11, 1968

The Beatles ‎– Lady Madonna

Issued on March 11, 1968. , one week before the US and UK pressings. The single was pressed simultaneously by both Compo and RCA plants, but there is about 7 or 8 Compo copies for every RCA copy. RCA copies are therefore rarer.