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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Break-up of the Beatles (1967-1970)- Part 2

Around this time, the Beatles re-ingaged with their interests in spirituality and Indian culture. They had attended meetings several times before with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, leader of the Transendental Meditation movement. They were on a retreat in Bangor, Wales when they heard the news of Brian Epsteins death. In February 1968, the Beatles, along with several of their hangers on such as Mia & Prudence Farrow, Donovan and Beach Boy Mike Love, made pilgrimage to the Maharishi's mountain retreat in Rishikesh. During this period, whilst off LSD, they cleaned their minds and wrote nearly 50 songs in approximately 7 weeks. Another crack began here in their relationship. Ringo left after 2 weeks due to being unable to stomach the harsh vegetarian meals. McCartney stayed on for a few weeks longer, but left in mid-March. Lennon and Harrison, who were both more interested in Indian culture, stayed on for a few weeks, but left abruptly in April due to accusations made against the Maharishi that he was sexually harrasing Mia Farrow. This would be the last time they travelled together abroad.
On May 15th, they announced the founding of their own company, Apple Corps, which would manage the band and their affairs. It had been envisioned by Epstein as a 'tax-shelter', but his death left uncertainty to the running of Apple Corps and it's purpose.
On May 31st, the band began recording their latest album, simply entitled 'The Beatles', also known as 'The White Album' due to it's perfectly white cover. It was to be a double album, which George Martin, who had produced all their albums to date, thought it was a bad idea, and that a stronger single album was better than a weak double album full of 'filler' songs.
The recording sessions for The White Album were plagued from the beginning, with arguments & discourse. On August 27th, Ringo Starr walked out of recording sessions for the day, before they had even begun. As a result, all the Beatles played drums and bass on "Back in the USSR" and "Dear Prudence", mainly McCartney played the drums though. Starr was welcomed back on September 3rd after a week of begging from the other Beatles.
Tensions remained high for the rest of the sessions, the only relief coming when Eric Clapton was invited to play the guitar solo on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". This is another factor in the break-up of the Beatles, the rise of George Harrison as a song-writer. In the early days, it was a 50-50 split between McCartney and Lennon as to song-writing responsibilities, with Harrison and Starkey adding the odd guitar or lyric here or there. By 1967, Harrison had written a large number of songs of varying quality, although any time he suggested them in a recording session, he was shot down by either Lennon or McCartney. This caused Harrison to become ever de-moralised. By the end of the Beatles, one could say he was on a level par with his former bandmates. His addition to Abbey Road, the beautiful "Something", was the A-side of their single and Frank Sinatra called it his "favourite Lennon-McCartney song". Again, his capabilities were epitomised when he was the first Beatle to get a solo number 1.

Next time, we venture into the failure that were the Get Back/Let it Be sessions

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