It was 54 years ago this week in May 1968 that the Beatles began recording four-track demos for its self-titled double album, which is commonly known as the “White Album.” The legendary — and long-bootlegged — group demos were finally released in 2018 as part of the “White Album's” super deluxe box set.
The songs, which were primarily recorded as a group at George Harrison's English Bungalow in Esher, 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 Harrison's house and for the one and only time in the band's career, laid down bare-bones, acoustic, group versions of their latest music.
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).” SOUDCUE