The Beatles' studio years
|History of the Beatles|
The Beatles' studio years began when, after a period of several years spanning their early period in Germany, the era of Beatlemania in the UK and their American tours, the Beatles ceased to perform live concerts and devoted their efforts more fully to creating new material in the recording studio.
In August 1966, the Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans, and returning to the studio in November to record Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band after a seven-week holiday. The album was released in June 1967, and that same month, the first live global television link in history was engineered as the Beatles performed "All You Need Is Love" to TV viewers worldwide, while at the same time creating the recording for that song's release.
Two months after "All You Need Is Love", in August 1967, the Beatles met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for the first time. During this time, the band's manager Brian Epstein died. The extent of the Maharishi's influence on the Beatles would be revealed by their next two albums, many of the songs for which they composed during their stay with him in India the following year, but not before the band had received their first major negative press, with the TV film Magical Mystery Tour receiving disparaging reviews.
On returning from India, the Beatles formed Apple Corps to replace Epstein's management, and once again concentrated their efforts in the recording studio. However, divisions and dissent now started to drive the band members apart from each other, and Starr quit the band for a period, leaving McCartney to perform drums on several of the album tracks then recorded.
The end of touring
Sample of "Strawberry Fields Forever".
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During the recording sessions for Revolver, tape looping and early sampling were introduced in a complex mix of ballad, R&B, soul, and world music. The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. (Some people were disappointed that the Beatles performed no songs from Revolver.) From then on, the Beatles concentrated almost exclusively on recording, but didn't cease making films entirely.
Less than seven months after recording Revolver, the Beatles returned to Abbey Road Studios on 24 November 1966 to begin the 129-day recording sessions for their eighth album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on 1 June 1967.
All You Need Is Love
The band appeared in a segment within the first-ever worldwide television satellite hook-up, a show titled Our World. The Beatles were transmitted live from Abbey Road Studios, and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was recorded live during the show, albeit to the accompaniment of a backing track they had spent five days recording and mixing in the studio prior to the broadcast.
Meeting the Maharishi
On 24 August 1967, the Beatles met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the London Hilton. A few days later they went to Bangor, in North Wales, to attend a weekend 'initiation' conference. There, the Maharishi gave each of them a mantra.
Brian Epstein's death
While in Bangor, the Beatles learned of the death of Brian Epstein at age 32 from an accidental prescription drug overdose. In his 1970 Rolling Stone interview, John Lennon commented that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end for the group: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I thought, We've fuckin' had it now". Thirty years after Epstein's death, McCartney said, "Brian would really be happy to hear how much we loved him."
Magical Mystery Tour and the start of negative press
At the end of 1967, the Beatles received their first major negative press in the UK, with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour. Part of the criticism arose because colour was an integral part of the film, yet the film was shown on Boxing Day in black and white.
To India, and back to the studio
The group spent the early part of 1968 in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their time at the Maharishi's ashram was highly productive from a musical standpoint, as many of the songs that would later be recorded for their next two albums were composed there by Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney went to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps.
The middle of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album because of its plain white cover.
The beginning of the end
It is generally believed that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end of the Beatles. The studio sessions for The White Album saw deep divisions open within the band, Starr temporarily leaving and McCartney taking over drums on the tracks "Martha My Dear", "Wild Honey Pie", "Dear Prudence" and "Back in the U.S.S.R.". Among the other causes of dissension were that Lennon's new girlfriend, Yoko Ono, was at his side through almost all of the sessions and that the others felt that McCartney was becoming too dominant. Internal divisions had been a small but growing problem in the band; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that Harrison experienced in getting his songs onto the Beatles albums.
A disagreement also arose over who should be the Beatles' manager. Lennon, Harrison and Starr wanted New York manager Allen Klein; however, McCartney wanted businessman Lee Eastman (the father of McCartney's then-girlfriend and later wife Linda). In the past all Beatles decisions had been unanimous but this time the four were unable to agree. The other three members felt Eastman would put McCartney's interests before those of the group and in later times, during the Anthology interviews, McCartney himself would indeed look back on his preference for Eastman and say "I can understand why they would feel that was biased for me and against them". In the spring of 1969 McCartney informed George Martin they, The Beatles, wanted to get in the studio and record a new album. Martin, the Beatles long time producer, was weary about going into the studio after the miserable sessions during the Let it Be recording sessions. McCartney informed Martin they were going to make a new album and asked him if he wanted to produce it. Martin agreed on the condition that they recorded "the way we used to", free of all the bickering and discord, so the new recordings in the summer of 1969 produced the last recorded album by the group known as Abbey Road, released 26 September 1969. The Let it Be sessions were handed over to Phil Spector in 1970 and released in April 1970.
Ultimately, it was Klein who was eventually appointed manager, but in 1971 it was discovered that he had stolen £5 million from the Beatles' holdings.
- Miles (1998), pp.293-295
- Miles (1998), p.54
- "The Beatles in Wales". BBC - Wales On Air. 16 November 2006. Retrieved 29 January 2007.
- Miles (1998), p.397
- "Magical Mystery Tour". Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved: 2 July 2007
- Roberts, Dave. "The Beatles". Intent Media. Retrieved 15 August 2008.
- "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Episode 6 - 0:21:34) McCartney talking about Candlestick Park.
- Gilliland 1969, show 45.
- Gilliland 1969, show 46, track 2.
- Miles (1998), p.396
- The Beatles Anthology DVD (2003) (Episode 7 - 0:10:33) Harrison talking about a mantra.
- "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Episode 7 - 0:20:35) Lennon talking about the death of Epstein and its effect on the Beatles.
- Miles (1997) p. 406
- Frankel, Glenn (26 August 2007). "Nowhere Man". The Washington Post. p. 4. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
- "Brian Epstein in the News". Brianepstein.com. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- Spitz (2005), pp.777–779
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Sergeant Pepper at the Summit: The very best of a very good year" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
- Miles, Barry (1998). Many Years from Now. Vintage-Random House. ISBN 0-7493-8658-4.
- Spitz, Bob (2005). The Beatles: The Biography. Little Brown. ISBN 0-316-80352-9.