Beatles 50th Blog posts of '2018' 'January'

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 3, 1968

Ringo Starr arrives back in England

Following the long drive from Rishikesh to Delhi, and the 20-hour flight from there to London Airport, Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen arrived back in London. Upon his return to England Ringo described the Rishikesh camp as "a bit like Butlins".
A lot of people are going to say that I left because I was disillusioned by it all but that just isn't so. The Academy is a great place and I enjoyed it a lot. I still meditate every day for half an hour in the morning and half an hour every evening and I think I'm a better person for it. I'm far more relaxed than I have ever been. You know, if you're working very hard and things are a bit chaotic, you get all tensed up and screwed up inside. You feel as if you have to break something or hit someone. But if you spend a short while in the mornings and evenings meditating, it completely relaxes you, and it's easier to see your way through problems. If everyone in the world started meditating, then the world would be a much happier place.

One of Ringo's first actions after getting home was to pack a number of 16mm cine film rolls, which he then sent out to the other Beatles in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 2, 1968

The Beatles excluding Ringo, are still in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 1, 1968

Ringo Starr leaves India

Less than two weeks after their arrival, Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen left Rishikesh to return to England.

The couple were unhappy at having to spend time away from their children. Additionally, Ringo found the spicy food disagreed with him - an intolerance caused by a childhood bout of peritonitis. He had brought a consignment of baked beans with him, and feasted on especially-prepared eggs while in Rishikesh, but found it not enough to entice him to stay.

It's all a bit hard to remember now. I was only there for two weeks, then I left. I wasn't getting what I thought I would out of it.

The food was impossible for me because I'm allergic to so many different things. I took two suitcases with me, one of clothes and the other full of Heinz beans (there's a plug for you). Then one morning the guys who were dealing with the food said, 'Would you like some eggs?' And I said, 'Oh yeah, sure,' and the next morning they said it again. I thought, 'Oh yeah, great - things are looking up.'

Then I saw them burying the shells. That was the first of several incidents that made me think that it was not what I thought it would be. You weren't supposed to have eggs inside this religious and spiritual ashram. I thought: 'What do you mean, you're burying the shells? Can't God see that too?'

We came home because we missed the children. I wouldn't want anyone to think we didn't like it there. I said it was like Butlins holiday camp, we had learnt by then that you could say anything and they'd print it. It was a good experience - it just didn't last as long for me as it did for them.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 28, 1968

The Beatles are still in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 27, 1968

“Dear Prudence”

“Dear Prudence” is the name of a Beatles song written by John Lennon. It appears on the Beatles’ November 1968 double-disc White Album. Lennon wrote the song earlier that year in India, inspired by a woman named Prudence Farrow, sister of actress Mia Farrow.

The Beatles and the Farrow sisters were part of a larger group who were then visiting the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on a weeks-long retreat in Rishikesh, India. It was February-March 1968.

Prudence Farrow, then focused on learning transcendental meditation (TM), stayed in her room for long periods of time. Lennon, worried she was depressed, wrote the song “Dear Prudence,” inviting her — as his lyrics would say — to “come out to play.”

“All the people around her were very worried about the girl,” Lennon would later say. “…So, we sang to her.” Lennon and George Harrison were delegated by the group to help bring Prudence out, as she had held up in her room for some time. Farrow was intent on learning the TM technique well enough to be able to teach it herself.

“I would always rush straight back to my room after lectures and meals so I could meditate,” she would later explain. “John, George and Paul would all want to sit around jamming and having a good time and I’d be flying into my room. They were all serious about what they were doing, but they just weren’t as fanatical as me…”
Later, as the Beatles were leaving India, George Harrison mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her. Farrow, flattered at the attention, would not hear the song until it came out on the album.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 26, 1968

The Beatles time in India was spent in the holy "Valley of the Saints", the International Academy of Meditation, also called the Chaurasi Kutia ashram, was a 14-acre (57,000 m2) compound. It stood across the River Ganges from Rishikesh, the "yoga capital of the world" and home to many ashrams in the foothills of the Himalayas, 150 feet (46 m) above the river and surrounded by jungle. The Maharishi's facility was built in 1963 with a $100,000 gift from American heiress Doris Duke, on land leased from the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. The training centre was designed to suit Western habits and was described variously as "luxurious" and "seedy".

Starr later compared the ashram to "a kind of spiritual Butlins" (a low-cost British holiday camp). It was built to accommodate several dozen people and each of its stone bungalows contained five rooms. Each was equipped with electric heaters, running water, toilets, and English-style furniture. According to DeHerrera, the Maharishi obtained many "special items" from a nearby village so that the Beatles rooms would have mirrors, wall-to-wall carpeting, wall coverings, "foam mattresses" and bedspreads. She wrote that "by the standard of the other" bungalows, the Beatles' cottages "looked like a palace".

The Maharishi had arranged a simple lifestyle for his guests, which included stone cottages and vegetarian meals taken outdoors in a communal setting. The days were devoted to meditating and attending lectures by the Maharishi, who spoke from a flower-bedecked platform in an auditorium. The Maharishi also gave private lessons to the individual Beatles, nominally due to their late arrival. The tranquil environment provided by the Maharishi – complete with meditation, relaxation, and away from the media throng – helped the band to relax. Harrison told Saltzman, "Like, we're The Beatles after all, aren't we? We have all the money you could ever dream of. We have all the fame you could ever wish for. But, it isn't love. It isn't health. It isn't peace inside, is it?" Lennon was respectful of the Maharishi but not in awe of him. At their first meeting Donovan remembers that the Maharishi was "amiable but non-talkative", and during an awkward silence Lennon walked across the room and patted the Maharishi on the head, saying, "There's a good little guru" while the room erupted in laughter. Maharishi cancelled the formal lectures for a time and told students to meditate for as long as possible. One student meditated for 42 straight hours, and Pattie Boyd once meditated for seven hours. Boyd's sister Jenny meditated for long periods as well, but also suffered from dysentery (misdiagnosed as tonsilitis); she said Lennon also felt unwell, suffering from jet lag and insomnia. The lengthy meditation sessions left many students moody and oversensitive. Like the 60 other students at the ashram, the Beatles adopted native dress and the ashram had a tailor on the premises to make clothes for the students. The Beatles shopped in Rishikesh and the women bought saris for themselves and to be made into shirts and jackets for the men, which affected Western fashion when the Beatles wore them after going home.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 25, 1968

George's birthday in Rishikesh

 In February 1968, the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh in northern India to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. John with Cynthia, George with Pattie and Jenny Boyd arrived on 15 February. Paul with Jane Asher, Ringo and Maureen arrived four days later.
A few days after their arrival was George’s birthday and they had a party.

The Maharishi celebrated George’s 25th birthday and Harrison played sitar. He gave Harrison an upside-down plastic globe of the world and said: “George, the globe I am giving you symbolizes the world today. I hope you will help us all in the task of putting it right.” Harrison immediately turned the globe to its correct position, shouting, “I’ve done it!”

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 24, 1968

The Beatles are in India

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 23, 1968

The Beatles in India

Among others in a group attending the retreat in India around that same time were: American actress Mia Farrow (soon to be divorced from Frank Sinatra); Mia’s sister, Prudence Farrow; Mia’s brother John; Paul Horn, jazz flautist; Lewis H. Lapham, journalist, Paul Saltzman, film-maker (and later, author of The Beatles in Rishikesh), Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan of “Sunshine Superman” fame (1966); American actress Candice Bergen; Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones; British singer Marianne Faithfull; Mike Love and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys; John Densmore and Ray Manzarek of The Doors; and Patti Harrison, Jane Asher, and a number of others.

The gathering in India, with all its high-powered celebrity, attracted a press following and a share of newspaper and magazine stories, a number of which appeared in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. The Saturday Evening Post, for example, ran a featured cover story on the trip in its May 4th, 1968 edition, having sent a reporter to go with Beatles to Rishikesh. “Here’s the Scene:,” began the headline on the Post’s cover story. “The Beatles, Mia Farrow and a Post Reporter All Gather in India to Meditate with The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.” This was actually a two-part story, with the conclusion running in the Post’s May 18th edition.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 22, 1968

The Beatles are still in India today