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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: October 16, 1968

On October 16th, 1968, John, Paul and George Martin met together at EMI Studios with the intention of fully sequencing the 30 songs that encompassed their newly recorded double-album “The Beatles,” popularly known as the “White Album.” This task became so daunting, in fact, that this sequencing session actually lasted a full 24 hours, from 5 pm until 5 pm October 17th – the longest ever Beatles session. With such a wide variety of musical styles among its numbers, it took a lot of thought as to what song would follow nicely after the one previous to it. With engineers Ken Scott, John Smith and Dave Harries to assist, they worked long and hard to turn this plethora of material into a presentable form.

Since the decision was made to simply title the album “The Beatles,” it may have easily been assumed by the general consumer that the album was a cohesive unit put together by four cooperative world-renowned musicians. As history testifies, this was hardly the case! In-house turmoil and bickering was at an all time high, resulting in both long-time engineer Geoff Emerick as well as Ringo himself quitting their association with The Beatles for a time during the album's sessions.

The cohesive illusion was well maintained as far as the general public was concerned, however. Upon listening to the two opening tracks of the album, for instance, what we hear are some stellar performances from all four members of the group working together beautifully. Or do we? As fate would have it, the first two tracks on the album, namely “Back In The U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence,” were primarily performed by John, Paul and George, although you do hear some amazing drum work from Paul on both songs (with a little drumming assistance from John and George on the former song). Both of these tracks happen to have been recorded during a two-week period where Ringo had quit the group. On August 22nd, 1968, during rehearsals for the recording of “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” Ringo stormed off because of Paul's instruction of how to play drums on the song. With the intention of never returning, he remained away until September 4th, when he rejoined his band to film the promotional clips for their newly released single “Hey Jude” and “Revolution.” Also recorded during Ringo's absence was John's beautiful composition “Dear Prudence” which, coupled with the opening track, perfectly conveys a tight cohesiveness and amazing first impression to what has come to be known by many as The Beatles' most loved album.

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