Rumors are circulating that the Beatles’ legendary group “White Album” demos might be in consideration for a proposed 50th anniversary box set of the “Fab Four’s” self-titled double album. The Beatles — as it was officially titled — was released on November 22nd 1968 and featured material written by the group during their infamous stay in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India. Upon returning to England, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr regrouped at George Harrison’s house in Esher — probably on May 28th — and laid down bare-bones four-track recordings of their latest music. In 1996, seven tracks from the “Esher” tape — including four that had not made the rounds on the various bootleg releases — were released on The Beatles Anthology 3 collection in pristine quality.
The Beatles fan website WogBlog posted some background on the historic home recordings: “The demo songs were mono mixed by Harrison, with copies given to each Beatle. The general public first heard them in the late 1980’s as part of The Lost Lennon Tapes radio series, and 23 of the songs had entered general circulation by the early 1990’s through bootlegs. Most of these came from John Lennon’s own tape, as mixed in mono by George in 1968. Still, they were a generation further away from the source, as they were likely taken from John’s cassette transfers of the tape. It is also believed that after a burglary, Ringo’s tape copy was leaked in full, which accounts for the bootlegged songs not aired on The Lost Lennon Tapes radio series.”
Filmmaker Paul Saltzman documented his time in Rishikesh studying transcendental meditation with the group in his photo book The Beatles In India, and told us that they were always friendly and approachable: “John looked up at me, and he was two feet away from me, and I said, ‘May I join you?’ and John said, ‘Sure mate, pull up a chair.’ And Paul said, ‘Come and sit here’ — he pulled next to him and I sat down. At that moment John turns to me, ’cause they had finished their conversation, and he says, ‘So, you’re American then?,’ in his sort of teasing way. And I said, ‘No, Canadian,’ and he turns to the group and says, ‘Ah, he’s from one of the colonies!’ And everyone breaks up (in laughter).” Paul adds ‘oh Sadie’ several times near the end.
“Happiness Is A Warm Gun” – lacks the intro and the final section
“Mean Mr. Mustard” – his sister is called ‘Shirley’ — not ‘Pam’
“Polythene Pam” – slightly different chords; ‘well it’s a little absurd but she’s a nice class of bird’; the verses are repeated
“Glass Onion” – with double-tracked gobbledygook from Lennon
Photo Courtesy Paul Saltzman