Personalities | The Beatles | The Beginning of the End (1968) | Key Events


Trip to Rishikesh

The Beatles resumed their acquaintance with the Maharishi in mid-February when they, their wives, girlfriends and business managers flew out to his ashram at Rishikesh where they attended his initiator training course. Among the other initiators were actress Mia Farrow, Beach Boy Mike Love and Donovan. Ringo returned to Britain after 10 days; McCartney followed a couple of weeks later but Harrison and Lennon stayed until mid-April. The real bonus for the group was the burst of songwriting that the visit inspired. Some 30 new songs were written, many of which appeared on their next album.


‘Lady Madonna’

Paul McCartney continued his de facto leadership of The Beatles with a sparkling Fats Domino-inspired boogie, playing the rollicking piano riff and singing through cupped hands at one point. The backing vocals on the chorus were among the most sublime they ever recorded. America was not so impressed with ‘Lady Madonna’s retro charms and it peaked at No. 4. But the British taste for nostalgia made it yet another No. 1.


Apple Corps Launched

Apple Corps, which had been running The Beatles’ own affairs, was officially launched as a fully-fledged business operation with a fanfare of publicity in London and New York. The company’s main division was Apple Records which would release all future Beatles records as well as newly signed artists like Mary Hopkin. Other divisions included Apple Publishing, Apple Films, Apple Electronics and Apple Retail. Paul McCartney described it as ‘A kind of Western communism’ and appealed for people to send in demo tapes. Thousands did but most of the tapes were never listened to. Those who came in person to the elegant Apple office in London’s Savile Row with a specific project, or even a vague idea, were often more fortunate, receiving an instant ‘grant’ for further research. Most of them were never seen again.

Yoko Ono

John Lennon first met Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono in November 1966 at her exhibition, ‘Unfinished Paintings And Objects’. ‘There was an apple there on sale for £200. I thought it was fantastic. I got the humour in her work immediately.’ He sponsored another exhibition and they remained in contact as he became increasingly intrigued by her radical approach to art. Lennon’s marriage to Cynthia had wilted. ‘It was just a normal marriage where nothing happens and which we continued to sustain.’ They continued to go on holiday together and both travelled to India in early 1968. Lennon’s confession of serial infidelity on the flight home shocked an unsuspecting Cynthia. In May, while Cynthia was away, Lennon invited Yoko over to listen to his tapes before they made one together. ‘It was midnight when we started Two Virgins and it was dawn when we finished and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.’

The Beatles Sessions

In late May The Beatles gathered at George Harrison’s house to record a demo of all the songs they had prepared....

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