lunes, 19 de febrero de 2018

The Beatles in India: Recollections at the opening of a Liverpool exhibition

(From left) Ringo Starr looks on as John Lennon and Paul McCartney work on a composition. Photo: Paul Saltzman
The Beatles in India: Recollections at the opening of a Liverpool exhibition
The new 'Beatles in India' exhibition in Liverpool, which was opened by the two sisters Pattie and and Jenny Boyd who went with the Fab Four to to learn about meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transports visitors to an exotic place
Monday, Feb 19 2018

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with members of the Beatles at his academy in India, March 1968. Getty

Fifty years ago, between 16 and 19 February 1968, the four Beatles and their partners flew to India to learn about meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their journey, both physical and spiritual, is being celebrated in an exhibition as part of The Beatles Story at the Albert Dock in their hometown of Liverpool. Enter the space and smell the sandalwood incense! Experience the vibrant colours of the compound! Walk in the living quarters where the Beatles wrote their songs! See Donovan’s guitar and Ravi Shankar’s sitar!
Martin King, the managing director of The Beatles Story, says, “We are trying to give a real feeling of the Ganges and the foothills of the Himalayas at the Albert Dock. Even the floor covering is like a grassy pathway. You see John Lennon’s No.9 bungalow with Donovan’s guitar outside and the idea is that they have been playing together and just left the set. We are transporting people back in time to a very exotic place. It is such an important part of the Beatles’ story and such a creative fulcrum for them. The White Album comes from their time in India.”
The exhibition was opened by two sisters with the most intriguing credentials in rock music. Pattie Boyd was a model for Vogue who married George Harrison in 1966 and later Eric Clapton. Harrison wrote “Something” for her and Clapton wrote “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight”. Boyd recalls, “I remember George playing "Something" to me on a little cassette machine and it was so beautiful, and then it was so powerful and big in the studio. I love hearing the song. It is just glorious, a very happy moment.”

Jenny Boyd, Pattie Boyd and Paul Saltzman reminisce at the opening of the 'Beatles in India' exhibition in Liverpool

Jenny Boyd, a model like her sister, was a close friend of Donovan, and they both went with the Beatles to India: she married Mick Fleetwood and wrote a book about creativity in rock music, It’s Not Only Rock’n’Roll. Boyd tells me, “Donovan played this lovely song for me, "Jennifer Juniper". At first I thought it was really pretty and nice and then I realised it was how he was feeling about me. I was so sorry that I couldn’t reciprocate his feelings but he was a wonderful friend.”
The mid-60s had been a spiritual journey for many young westerners. Jenny had experienced the college kids who were turning on, tuning in and dropping out in San Francisco, and Harrison and Pattie visited her there. Back in England, Pattie attended a talk by Maharishi in London and told Harrison about him. The Beatles went to see Maharishi in north Wales, and he invited them to Rishikesh. “It was going so well in Bangor,” says Pattie, “until we heard that Brian Epstein had died. He had been their friend, their mentor and their manager. I had never seen people in such shock and Maharishi knew that they had to grieve properly. It was lucky that they were with him as he was very solid, very wise and the perfect guide. He told them to come to India where it would be very calm and they could sort out what they wanted to do.”
A reconstruction of John Lennon’s No.9 bungalow with Donovan’s guitar outside at the 'Beatles in India' exhibition

The Beatles’ time in India was private as they lived in Maharishi’s ashram with no reporters on site. Maharishi was hosting a course for 60 TM (transcendental meditation) teachers as well as guiding the Beatles and their party. The only outsider was a Canadian filmmaker, Paul Saltzman, who had been working in India. “I got a letter from my girlfriend Trisha saying that she had moved in with someone else," he says. "I was heartbroken and somebody said I should try meditation for the heartbreak. That is what led me to the ashram. I didn’t know that the Beatles were there. I did a 30 minute meditation and it was an absolute miracle. The knife in my heart was gone. The screaming I could hear in my head was gone. What replaced it was this state of bliss. I had done drugs in the 60s and I had been seeking this state of bliss. I thought that if Trisha is happier with him, then I am happy for her.”
Jenny agrees. “I was incredibly happy in India. I was naturally shy and if you smoke pot and are shy, it makes you even more introverted. I wasn’t doing that anymore and I felt much more relaxed and much more open to everything that was going on. I wasn’t looking for a guru so I never felt that Maharishi was the one, but I knew that meditating was exactly what I had been looking for.”
Saltzman took the most enduring image of the Maharishi and his guests. “Maharishi had hired a photographer from down in the village who had an eight by ten plate antique camera. Everybody got dressed up and the garlands arrived. Maharishi directed where everyone should be and everyone on the course got an 8 by 10, black and white print to take away. I wasn’t part of the set-up as I wasn’t on the course, but the picture cried out for colour photography and I took those pictures. Harrison and Pattie had a camera, Ringo Starr had a camera and Mal Evans the roadie had a camera so they wanted me to take them. I had four cameras around my neck, my Pentax and their very expensive Nikons.”
Ravi Shankar's sitar in the 'Beatles in India' show

In normal circumstances, Starr was the most easy-going Beatle but he was uneasy in Rishikesh. He and his wife Maureen returned home on 1 March with Ringo saying that it was “just like Butlin’s”. The food had been too spicy for his delicate stomach but he had known that and brought supplies of Heinz Baked Beans. Jenny says the reason for his departure is much simpler. “Ringo wasn’t on a spiritual search; he was quite happy as he was. He and Maureen had just had a second son and they had left their children in England. They missed them and being in India was too much of a strain for them.”
One of the captions in the exhibition has Paul McCartney saying that if they had found what they were looking for, they might not have returned. “No, no, that’s nonsense” says Pattie, “They would have returned. They were western guys. They wrote their songs on acoustic guitars and they wanted to work them out in a recording studio with electric instruments. They needed the tools of the west and they had plans to start Apple and to find a new manager.” 
Neither of those worked out well but they weren’t to know that. But then neither did the Indian experience with John Lennon accusing Maharishi of sexual harassment and writing “Sexy Sadie” with its key line “You made a fool of everyone”.

Visitors are transported to an exotic place in the Liverpool show to be with the Beatles in India

Among the songs written in Rishikesh was “Dear Prudence”, which Lennon dedicated to another of their party, the sister of Mia Farrow. “Every day we did meditation and we would go to lectures and eat together but if somebody was having a long meditation, they wouldn’t be disturbed,” says Pattie, “Food would be left outside their door. We noticed that Prudence’s door had two plates of food outside, so she had missed two meals and we were getting worried about her. She had been depressed and John wrote that beautiful song for her, "Dear Prudence". She was in a deep place and couldn’t come out of it and John was saying, ‘Come out and play’.”
After years of disrepair, the ashram itself has opened as a tourist attraction, but for some the memories of Rishikesh remain with them every day. “Life comes and goes and when I get tense, I try and remember ‘Breathe Paul, come back into your own core, come back into your own inner self,’” says Saltzman, “I still meditate, and meditation and prayer are both keys to an inner domain. They are keys to the soul which is a connection to whatever divine presence there is in the universe.”
‘Beatles in India’ is now open as part of The Beatles Story, based on the Albert Dock in Liverpool. The exhibition will run for two years.

sábado, 17 de febrero de 2018

How the Beatles in India Changed America

How the Beatles in India Changed America
Though their trip to visit Maharishi was short, the Beatles helped bring Eastern religion to the West
By Claire Hoffman
Friday 16 feb 2018

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with members of the Beatles and other famous followers.

On a February morning in 1967, George Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd, sat at her kitchen table and lamented to a girlfriend how she longed for something spiritual in her life. With that, the legendary party girl ripped a tiny newspaper advertisement for Transcendental Meditation classes out of the paper and, in that instant, began a ripple that would affect generations of young people across the world. A year later, the Beatles would go to India. Out of that trip came not just the band's epic White Album and Donovan's "Hurdy-Gurdy Man," but a seismic shift in the popular understanding of Eastern spirituality, meditation and music. It also was the beginning of a strange relationship between the Beatles and the meditation movement that they inadvertently popularized. Not to mention the rise of an Indian guru who shaped my own life.

In August 1967, Boyd talked her husband into joining her at the Hilton Hotel in London to see Maharishi speak. She had learned his trademarked Transcendental Meditation that spring and had fallen in love with her daily mantra-based practice. In the end, all the Beatles joined them. Maharishi cut an enticing anti-establishment figure at a moment when the Beatles were questioning their reality – the then-47-year-old Indian man had long hair that flowed mane-like into his greying beard. He wore only a simple white robe and flip-flops. As he lectured at colleges and universities around the United States and Europe, young people became enamored with his simple notion of using meditation to elevate your consciousness. He would answer even the angstiest questions on the meaning of life or world events with an infectious giggle and the reassurance that life was simple and blissful.

Maharishi supposedly didn't know who the Beatles were when he met them, but he knew they were very famous – he was nothing if not media savvy (as described in Kurt Vonnegut's essay, "Yes, We Have No Nirvanas") – so he invited them all to a ten-day summer conference in Bangor, a small coastal city in Wales. It was there that the four men became devotees. The plan emerged to spend a few months in early 1968 at Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh. They all felt – to different degrees – a hunger to transform themselves. Maharishi was adamantly opposed to drugs and drinking and, Boyd wrote in her memoir, they were all on steady diet of weed and acid, stumbling daily through a mind-boggling hysterical swarm of paparazzi and fans.

George Harrison, John Lennon, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, August 1967.
George Harrison, John Lennon and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, Wales, August 1967. Cummings Archives/Getty Images

But the hard living was in the rearview mirror when the Beatles flew to India in February of 1968, with a phalanx of reporters in tow. They went to Rishikesh, a small town at the foothills of the Himalayas. The plan was to stay for a few months – it was a course to make them teachers of Transcendental Meditation, although it didn't seem anyone in the Beatles crew actually wanted to teach, they just wanted that time with Maharishi.

Life there was idyllic and simple, by most accounts – the Beatles slept in sparsely furnished rooms, and were awakened by peacocks. They meditated for much of the day, and listened to Maharishi lecture about reincarnation and consciousness. There were about 60 people at the ashram, including Donovan and his manager; the Beach Boys' Mike Love; and Mia Farrow, with her brother Johnny and sister Prudence. ("Dear Prudence," written by Lennon, was supposedly a song they sang to Mia's sister, who wouldn't stop meditating, and wouldn't come out of her room.)

How and why they left their guru is the stuff of differing legends, and I've heard a dozen versions of what happened. I would say that the truth lies in the music that came out of that time – somewhere between "Sexy Sadie" and "Across the Universe" – part transcendent cosmic consciousness and part total betrayal and loss of faith. Whatever actually occurred, they decamped after two months in a bit of a huff, leaving Maharishi and his meditation movement behind.

But Maharishi already had the photographic evidence and journalistic accounts of the Beatles' devotion. The band moved on, but Maharishi's star continued to rise, and TM became increasingly entrenched in popular culture. Life magazine proclaimed 1968 "The Year of the Guru," and featured Maharishi on the cover with groovy, hallucinogenic spirals framing his face.

By the mid-1970s, the Movement estimated that it had 600,000 practitioners, with celebrities such as actress Shirley MacLaine and football star Joe Namath continuing to promote Maharishi's techniques and vision. TM how-to books were a staple on the best-seller list, and at the time, the Movement estimated that an average of 40,000 people a month were learning the meditation practice. He bought two Heidelberg presses and began printing elaborate pamphlets and books and mission statements. He sent them out to world leaders and set up hundreds of certified centers throughout the United States, Europe and India. Later the media would describe TM as "the McDonald's of the meditation business."

I was born close to a decade after the Beatles left their Indian retreat and their guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but that trip entirely shaped my world – my parents would never have met, fallen in love nor moved to a remote town in Iowa to the meditation community where I was raised.

In the fall of 1968, my mom was a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After reading an article in the Saturday Evening Post, my mom – raised in a Roman-Catholic family where gloom and sin loomed ever-present – fell in love with Transcendental Meditation. So in the early 1980s, when Maharishi asked his devotees to move to rural Fairfield, Iowa, to help build his global headquarters, well, my mom thought that was a great idea.

Growing up in Fairfield in the 1980s and 1990s, the Beatles were an awkward part of our founding history. At the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment – where I was a student until I was 14 years old – John, Paul, George and Ringo were sort of like estranged uncles whose stories were left to the shadows. There were celebrities who practiced meditation and who sometimes visited our school, smiling warmly as they watched us meditate or embark on our "consciousness-based education." But while I have strange memories of Mike Love singing in our tiny school library, no Beatle ever came to visit.

While the Beatles went through their own unraveling, tragedy and emergence as solo artists, the Transcendental Meditation community was winding itself into a tighter internal facing realm, entirely devoted to Maharishi and his global plans. Maharishi's picture hung on the walls of our home and in in my school. We would always place the first slice of birthday cake beneath his picture, and sing a funny little song about achieving higher and higher levels of consciousness as we did.

At the time, TM became a forgotten byproduct of the hippie era, except for our little bubble in Iowa. There we followed Maharishi's directives on how to eat, how to sleep, how to dress, how to be. As time went by and I grew up, it felt more and more restrictive and alienating. I began to think it was all as simple as the Sexy Sadie lyric, "Oh look what you've done, you've made a fool of everyone." My teen angst and Lennon's cosmic comedown dovetailed perfectly.

The Beatles and their wives at the Rishikesh in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, March 1968. The group includes Ringo Starr, Maureen Starkey, Jane Asher, Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1943 - 2001), Patti Boyd, Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), Beatles roadie Mal Evans, Prudence Farrow, Jenny Boyd and Beach Boy Mike Love.
The Beatles and their wives at in India. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The binary tumult of that moment with the Beatles seemed to shadow Maharishi until his death. People treated him either like a god or a pariah. Popular narratives seemed stuck on this idea of a guru-disciple relationship, where Maharishi was either an enlightened sage who would transform your consciousness or as a media-savy opportunist who was after everyone's money. There didn't seem to be a middle option.

However, in the 2000s as Maharishi grew older and less present, something unlikely happened. TM returned to popular culture, thanks to the evangelical efforts of David Lynch, a longtime meditator who in 2002 attended something called the Enlightenment Course with Maharishi in Europe. After that, Lynch traveled around the country, talking to large groups about a simple technique that could make you happier, calmer, and more productive. Suddenly Rupert Murdoch and Katy Perry were tweeting about how much they loved it, but there was little to no mention of the guru. In 2009, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed for the David Lynch foundation, raising money to help children learn TM, along with Mike Love and Donovan. Onstage, they reminisced about the time and the music they made and said they loved meditation. All it seemed had been forgotten or forgiven, and together they sang "Cosmically Conscious." Maharishi was not mentioned.

Claire Hoffman is a journalist and author of Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood.

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viernes, 16 de febrero de 2018

Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, The Who, Pink Floyd and The Jam - they all played at Lancaster University

Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, The Who, Pink Floyd and The Jam - they all played at Lancaster University
Lloyd Bent
Westmorland Gazette
Feb 16 2018

Paul McCartney at Lancaster University, by Sheryl Walmsley

A MUSIC promoter who made some of the world's biggest bands from the '60s and '70s accessible to South Lakeland residents has written a book about his work.
Barry Lucas was the booker at Lancaster University's Great Hall between 1968 and 1985. While there, he organised gigs featuring the likes of The Who, Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, The Groundhogs, Dr Feelgood, The Jam, Bob Marley, Thin Lizzy and Chuck Berry, along with scores of others.
The Clash at Lancaster University, 23rd January 1980, by Geoff Campbell
Through ticket outlets around South Lakeland, including George Edwardian Boutique off Kendal's Market Place, Mr Lucas gave all music fans from the area opportunities to see the world's biggest acts in a venue on the university circuit local to them.
The recent re-discovery of programmes and photographs from the shows by photographer Paul Tomlinson led to the creation of the book, called 'When Rock went to College', which documents the period when Mr Lucas ran the venue.
Eric Clapton at Lancaster University, Geoff Campbell
Mr Lucas, who started in the role while a student at the university, said: "Most university venues put on student only gigs, which always struck me as wrong. So I put on gigs which local people could go to, and they made up about 60 per cent of the audience.
"The people from the surrounding areas were often more interested in music than the students. I am always bumping into people now in places like Kendal who say they used to go to these gigs every weekend. At the time there was nowhere else to watch bands between Manchester and Glasgow.
Barry Lucas with his book, Sandy Kitching
"We put on some really big names. We had Queen and Wishbone Ash playing as support bands, and then put them on again when they were superstars."
The first band Mr Lucas 'put on' were The Who in 1968. The event sold out, and he continued to organise shows for 15 years.
The book features original posters, tickets, memorabilia and photographs of the bands on stage at the venue which have never been published before.
Explaining how the book came about, Mr Lucas said: "People were often telling me to make these stories into a book. But I had worked doing the gigs for a long time and I had not kept any records, so I couldn't remember enough to make a comprehensive book.
New Order, Lancaster University 14th March 1985, Geoff Campbell
"Then I got a call from Paul Tomlinson, who had gone to the gigs in his youth and had come back to Lancaster to work at the university.
"He had come across a lot of programmes, and looked through all the old university newspapers, and wanted to do a photo book.
"I said that I could add a narrative to that, and we contacted the original photographer whom I used to work with. What we have made is a comprehensive document of that venue."
Tina Turner in concert Lancaster University 25th February 1984, Left to right: Annie Behringer, Tina Turner and Lejeune Richardson, photo by Geoff Campbell
Mr Lucas added that when Paul McCartney heard that the book contained photos of the first Wings tour, of which he had no documentation, he contacted the publisher to ask for a copy.
'When Rock went to College' is available now, and can be ordered from Charles Scott at Macbeth Scott in Kendal.

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jueves, 15 de febrero de 2018

Exclusive Photographs of the Beatles' Trip to India Emerge in New Book

Exclusive Photographs of the Beatles' Trip to India Emerge in New Book
FEBRUARY 15, 2018

The Beatles in India
Paul Saltzman

It’s been 50 years since the Beatles embarked on their journey to India, seeking inner and spiritual peace through the study of transcendental meditation.

Film director and photographer Paul Saltzman just happened to be in India for similar reasons, and the Fab Four agreed to give him unprecedented access to their experiences. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the journey, Saltzman has released The Beatles in India, a photo book that gives readers insight into the legendary trip.

The band spent time at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, looking for satisfaction that drugs and materialism could not provide. The trip turned out to be a smashing success as the Beatles wrote numerous songs while in India, including “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, “Blackbird” and “Dear Prudence”, among many other classics that appeared on the White Album and Abbey Road.

Although Ringo Starr left after just one week, Paul McCartney stayed nearly a month, and John Lennon and George Harrison each stayed six weeks. Saltzman was there every step of the way, capturing images of the band’s time in Rishikesh in 1968.

Launch the gallery below to see exclusive images of The Beatles’ enlightening trip to India. (Photos provided by Insight Editions from The Beatles in India  © 2018 Paul Saltzman)

Paul McCartney and John Lennon
Paul Saltzman

John Lennon
Paul Saltzman

The Beatles in India cover
Paul Saltzman

George Harrison
Paul Saltzman

The Beatles in India
Paul Saltzman

The Beatles in India
Paul Saltzman

Paul Saltzman, Author and Photographer
Paul Saltzman

miércoles, 14 de febrero de 2018

Lamborghini once owned by Sir Paul McCartney on sale for £500,000
Lamborghini once owned by Sir Paul McCartney on sale for £500,000
AN ultra-rare Lamborghini formerly owned by Sir Paul McCartney has emerged for sale for a staggering £500,000. The 400GT 2+2 left the factory on Italy in 1967 and was one of only four to be imported into Britain.
PUBLISHED: Wed, Feb 14, 2018

The 400GT 2 2 left the factory on Italy in 1967 and was one of only four to be imported into Britain

It was purchased by the Beatles' bassist in February 1968 during the height of the band's fame and joined his considerable collection of sports cars.

The red two-door was converted to right-hand drive especially for the singer and he continued to own it for over a decade, before finally parting with the powerful V12 in 1979.

Since then the Italian classic has had a number of owners and has now emerged for sale once again with Bonhams Auctions in London.

The auctioneers are predicting the coupe, which is one of just 250 to be built, will attract offers of between £400,000 and £500,000.

It has a pristine deep red bodywork which is teamed with silver chrome wheels and trim. On the inside there is a cream leather interior, which is also in fanatic condition.

When new, the 400GT would have been one of the most powering cars of the era thanks to its V12 engine.

It has a top speed of 156mph and can do 0-60 in just 7.5 seconds - rapid for cars from that period.

The car has spent it's entire life in UK and has even appeared on TV for several Beatles documentaries.

The red two-door was converted to right-hand drive especially for the singer

It also once starred in a copy of Autocar magazine.

The auctioneers say they are expecting the car to perform well when it goes under the hammer and that there is a real market for ex-celebrity-owned cars.

Tim Schofield, head of the auction house's motor department, said: "There is certainly a market for celebrity owned vehicles, especially when the cars themselves are desirable marques and models such as this Lamborghini.

"Paul McCartney he has had some fantastic cars in his time and this is no different.

"It was first registered to him in February 1968, the heyday of his time with The Beatles.

It was purchased by the Beatles star in February 1968 during the height of the band's fame

The car is for sale with Bonhams Auctions of Knightsbridge, West London.

"It was imported to the UK and changed to right hand drive for him. He is thought to have sold it in 1979.

"Only 250 400GT 2+2s were ever built and roughly 4 are known to have been imported in to the UK, making this a seriously rare car, and a powerful one.

"It has a V12 engine, can do 0-60 in 7.5 seconds and has a top sped of 156mph.

"It is also in very good condition and is ready to drive."

martes, 13 de febrero de 2018

The Beatles in India: 16 Things You Didn't Know

The Beatles in India: 16 Things You Didn't Know
A 'Lord of the Rings' movie pitch, the genesis of the White Album and other trivia from the band's historic stay in Rishikesh
By David Chiu
Feb 12 2018

By 1968, despite, or maybe because of, their huge popularity and success, the Beatles found themselves spiritually exhausted. "We'd been the Beatles, which was marvelous," Paul McCartney later recalled in The Beatles Anthology. "We'd tried for it not to go to our heads and we were doing quite well – we weren't getting too spaced out or big-headed – but I think generally there was a feeling of: 'Yeah, well, it's great to be famous, it's great to be rich – but what it's all for?'"

The group tried to find the answer through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Their association with the guru resulted in a visit to the Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh, India, in February 1968, which became a major media event. Not only did the Beatles go to India for a spiritual reawakening through meditation, but the trip proved to be one of their most creative periods – they wrote reportedly 48 songs, with most of them ending up on the White Album, released later that year. The band's planned three-month stay at the ashram was cut short, however, following sexual misconduct allegations against the Maharishi. "We made a mistake there," Lennon later said, as quoted in The Beatles Anthology. "We believe in meditation, but not the Maharishi and his scene. ... We thought he was something other than he was."

Despite it ending on a sour note, the Beatles' visit made a tremendous impact and not just on the White Album. "The relationship between the Beatles and the Maharishi brought about an enormous interest in the West in Indian clothing, meditation, yoga and the playing of the sitar," wrote Paul Oliver in his book Hinduism and the 1960s. "Although the Beatles had apparently left Rishikesh with varying degrees of negative feelings towards the Maharishi, in later life they tended to feel more benign towards him, and to say publicly what a positive effect he had on their lives."

February 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of that historic India trip, which is being commemorated with an upcoming exhibit at the Beatles Story museum in the Fab Four's hometown of Liverpool; and due out February 13th is The Beatles in India, a new book by photographer Paul Saltzman, who was at the ashram with the Beatles. In honor of that milestone, here are 16 things you might not know about the trip – from what life was like at the ashram to the stories behind some of the songs they wrote in India, and what led to the band's to split from the Maharishi.

1. It began with a newspaper ad for meditation classesIn February 1967, George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd, who was searching for spirituality in her life, came across an advertisement in a newspaper for Transcendental Meditation classes. Immediately she signed up to be a part of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. Boyd later told her husband about what she did and he became interested as well. In August of that same year, the Harrisons, along with the other members of the Beatles, attended a lecture that the Maharishi was giving in London. "Maharishi was every bit as impressive as I thought he would be, and we were spellbound," Boyd recalled in her 2007 memoir Wonderful Tonight. That same group, accompanied by Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, later attended a 10-day conference of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement being held in Bangor, Wales. During their time at the conference, the Beatles announced they were giving up drugs. "It was an experience we went through," McCartney said, as quoted in Philip Norman's Beatles book Shout! "Now it's over and we don't need it any more." Their stay at the conference, however, was cut short upon news of Beatles manager Brian Epstein's unexpected death. It was then that Maharishi invited the Beatles to stay at his ashram in Rishikesh, where he held a course for people who want to become Transcendental Meditation instructors.
2. Donovan, Mia Farrow and Mike Love were just three of the Beatles' fellow noteworthy guests at the ashram.The members of the Beatles and their significant others arrived in India in February 1968 – first George Harrison and John Lennon, and then later Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. In addition to the Beatles, singer Donovan, actress Mia Farrow and the Beach Boys' Mike Love, there were other Westerners staying at the ashram during this period. Among the notable ones were Paul Horn, an American jazz flautist whom The New York Times later described as a founding father of New Age music; Prudence and John Farrow, siblings of Mia Farrow; Nancy Cooke de Herrera, an American socialite who was an early Western proponent of Transcendental Meditation; Tim Simcox, an American actor who appeared in many TV series such as Bonanza and Gunsmoke (Cynthia Lennon recalled in her 2005 book John that John Lennon accused her of having an affair with Simcox); model Jenny Boyd, the sister of Pattie Boyd and the future wife of drummer Mick Fleetwood; Lewis Lapham, the only journalist allowed at the retreat while on assignment for The Saturday Evening PostMal Evans, the Beatles' longtime roadie and personal assistant going back to the group's early days at the Cavern Club; Alexis "Magic Alex" Mardas, a Greek inventor and an employee of Apple Corps; and photographer Saltzman. "The weeks the Beatles spent at the ashram," Saltzman later wrote, "were a uniquely calm and creative oasis for them: meditation, vegetarian food and the gentle beauty of the foothills of the Himalayas. There were no fans, no press, no rushing around with busy schedules, and in this freedom, in this single capsule of time, they created more great music than in any similar period in their illustrious careers. "
3. Life at the ashram was like summer camp.Funded by a $100,000 donation from American heiress Doris Duke, the Maharishi's ashram was built in 1963, covering 14 acres of forest. The property, said Saltzman, consisted of six long bungalows each containing five or six double rooms, along with flower beds of red hibiscus blossoms, and several vegetable gardens. In addition to the Maharishi's own bungalow, there was a post office, a lecture theater and a swimming pool. Nancy Cooke de Herrera supervised the preparation of the Beatles' quarters prior to their arrival. "The Beatles never realized what had been done when they walked into their rooms," she later said. "They had mattresses on their beds. We had curtains put up, we had mirrors. We even had toilet fixtures that worked." Cynthia Lennon recalled her room at the ashram with John as having a four-poster bed, an electric fire, and some chairs.
In The Beatles Anthology, McCartney compared the experience of being at the Rishikesh retreat to a summer camp. "You would get up in the morning and go down to a communal breakfast," he said. "Food was vegetarian ... and I think we probably had cornflakes for breakfast. After breakfast, you would go back to your chalet, meditate for a little while, have a bit of lunch and then there might be a talk or a little musical event. Basically it was just eating, sleeping and meditating – with the occasional little lecture from Maharishi thrown in." Mike Love remembered in his memoir Good Vibrations that the surrounding animal life made its way into the ashram: "Spiders, stray dogs, and even an occasional tiger roamed the grounds. The night sounds were a shrill chorus of wildlife – peacocks, crows, and parrots. The wails and cackles may have unnerved some, but I felt at peace."
At the end of the day, the musicians would play music together, according to Donovan. "Songwriting came easy," he wrote in The Autobiography of Donovan. "Paul Mac never had a guitar out of his hand. He let us all get a few songs in though, and you can hear the results on the records that followed, the Beatles' White Album, and my own The Hurdy Gurdy Man."
4. The Maharishi had some unique quirks.The Maharishi turned out to be more business- and media-savvy than his followers might have initially guessed. According to The Love You Make, a book by former Beatles associate Peter Brown, prior to the Beatles' India trip, the Maharishi was negotiating with lawyers for ABC about a TV special that would include an appearance by the band. Despite Brown warning the Maharishi that this arrangement was not possible, the Maharishi continued to tell ABC's attorneys that he could still make the deal happen. Finally, Brown, accompanied by Harrison and McCartney, visisted the Maharishi in Sweden and told him to not use the Beatles for his own business purposes – to which the Maharishi nodded and giggled. "He's not a modern man," Harrison said, as quoted in Brown's book, on the plane ride back. "He just doesn't understand these things."
In his book With the Beatles, Lewis Lapham recounted the time when the Maharishi organized a group photo of his students, including the Beatles. "He cast himself as the director on a movie set," Lapham wrote of the Maharishi. In preparation for the photo shoot, the Maharishi oversaw the construction of a tier of bleachers as well as the seating arrangements. He reportedly told the photographer, "Before you snap, you must shout 1, 2, 3 ... any snap and you must shout." The Maharishi then told his pupils, "Now come on everybody, cosmic smiles ... and all into the lens."
Lapham also wrote that the Maharishi apparently loved helicopters and recalled the guru gazing at a chopper "like a child looking at an enormous complicated toy." McCartney remembered the Maharishi using a one to take him to New Delhi one day. There was room for one more person in the helicopter to ride with the Maharishi, and Lennon took up the invitation. "I asked [John] later, 'Why were you so keen to get up with the Maharishi?'" McCartney said in The Beatles Anthology. "'To tell you the truth,' he said, 'I thought he might slip me in the Answer.' That's very John!" McCartney also recalled a conversation with the Maharishi when the latter asked about what car to purchase. "We said, 'Well, a Merc, Maharishi. Mercedes, very good car' – 'Practical? Long running? Good works?' – 'Yes.' – 'Well, we should get a Mercedes, then.'"
5. George and John were really into meditating ...Of all the Beatles at the ashram, Harrison and Lennon were the most committed to the discipline of meditation. "I was in a room for five days meditating," said Lennon in The Beatles Anthology. "I wrote hundreds of songs. I couldn't sleep and I was hallucinating like crazy, having dreams where you could smell. I'd do a few hours and they you'd trip off, three- or four-hour stretches. It was just a way of getting there, and you could go on amazing trips." Cynthia Lennon said in Bob Spitz's book The Beatles that for John, nothing else mattered when it came to mediation, adding "John and George were [finally] in their element [at the ashram]. They threw themselves totally into the Maharishi's teachings, were happy, relaxed and above all found a piece of mind that had been denied them for so long."
Harrison felt that both the meditation and the Maharishi made an impact in his life. "The meditation buzz is incredible," he told Paul Saltzman. "I get higher than I ever did with drugs. It's simple ... and it's my way of connecting with God." And Harrison was very serious about the band's purpose at the ashram. "He was quite strict," McCartney later said of Harrison in The Beatles Anthology. "I remember talking about the next album and he would say, 'We're not here to talk to about music – we're here to meditate.' Oh yeah, all right Georgie Boy. Calm down. Sense of humor needed here, you know. In fact, I loved it there."
6. ... while Ringo had a tougher time.Ringo Starr later recalled his India experience as fun and excitingbut at the time he had difficulties adjusting to the food and the surroundings. Because he was allergic, he brought cans of Heinz baked beans with him for the trip. The Beatles drummer also remembered food preparers at the ashram offering him eggs, which were not allowed. "Then I saw them burying the shells," Starr said in The Beatles Anthology. "That was the first of several incidents that made me think that it was not what I thought it would be." Other issues for him and his wife Maureen included being pestered by insects: "You'd have to fight off the scorpions and tarantulas in a bath," he said. "Then you'd get out of the bath, get dry and get out of the room because all the insects came back in." Also homesick for their children, the Starrs decided to leave after 10 days, later followed by McCartney and his girlfriend Jane Asher a few weeks later. "Paul simply wasn't getting it," Peter Brown wrote in The Love You Make. "The mock seriousness of the Maharishi and the tediousness of the meditation were too much like school for him."
7. The Fab Four dug their Indian attire.In his reporting from the ashram, Lewis Lapham wrote: "Like the other Beatles, Harrison delighted in the costumes – embroidered overblouses, fanciful brass pendants, cotton pajama trousers broadly striped in bright colors, robes for all occasions. They looked like gypsies, their angular faces framed in long dark hair." 
"If you go to India you can't wear Western clothes," Harrison said in The Beatles Anthology. "That's one of the best bits about India – having these cool clothes: big baggy shirts and pajama trousers. They also have tight trousers that look like drainpipes." Added Starr: "We did a lot of shopping. We all had Indian clothes made because they could do it right there: huge silly pants with very tight legs and a big body that you'd tie up tight, Nehru collars. We got right into it."
8. The Beatles were pitched a Lord of the Rings movie.Long before director Peter Jackson delivered the Lord of the Ringstrilogy on screen, the Beatles once contemplated making a movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic work. According to Philip Norman's 2016 biography of Paul McCartney, Denis O'Dell, the head of Apple Films, arrived at the ashram to discuss The Lord of the Rings as the next Beatles movie project. Due to the enormous length of the book series, O'Dell assigned a volume from the trilogy to each of the Beatles to read: The Fellowship of the Ring to Lennon, The Two Towers to McCartney and The Return of the King to Harrison. In his book The Beatles in India, Paul Saltzman wrote that the short list of possible directors included Stanley Kubrick, Michelangelo Antonioni and David Lean. In a 2014 interview with Deadline, Jackson confirmed the story of the Beatles' initial involvement in the project based on a conversation he had with McCartney: "John Lennon was going to play Gollum. Paul was going to play Frodo. George Harrison was going to play Gandalf, and Ringo Starr was going to play Sam. Paul was very gracious; he said, 'It was a good job we never made ours because then you wouldn't have made yours and it was great to see yours.' I said, 'It's the songs I feel badly about; you guys would have banged out a few good tunes for this.'"
9. India couldn't save John's first marriage.Prior to the trip to Rishikesh, the marriage between John Lennon and his wife Cynthia was strained, exacerbated by the presence of Yoko Ono in Lennon's life. In her 2005 book John, Cynthia explains that she initially viewed the India visit as a second honeymoon and a chance to reconnect with her husband. But it didn't turn out that way. "John was becoming increasingly cold and aloof toward me," she wrote. "He would get up early and leave our room. He spoke to me very little, and after a week or two he announced that he wanted to move into a separate room to give himself more space. From then on, he virtually ignored me, both in private and in public." She later learned that every morning, her husband would visit the post office to check if Ono had sent him a letter. In 1970. John Lennon revealed to Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner that he was also going to bring Ono on the trip,"but I lost me nerve because I was going to take me wife and Yoko and I didn't know how to work it [laugh]. So, I didn't do it. I didn't quite do it."
10. There was a real-life Bungalow Bill.An incident involving the killing of a tiger during the Beatles' stay in India inspired Lennon to write the "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill," which later appeared on the White Album. According to The Complete Beatles Songs by Steve Turner, American college graduate Richard A. Cooke III visited his mother Nancy Cooke de Herrera at the ashram; the two traveled by elephant on a tiger hunt in Naintal. When a tiger came upon them, Richard shot and killed it. Feeling guilty about what he had done, Richard and with his mother spoke with the Maharishi about the incident, with John and Paul sitting in on the conversation. "Maharishi looked pretty aghast that his followers could actually go out and do something like this," Richard later remembered. Added Nancy: "Then John asked, 'Don't you call that slightly-life destructive?' I said, 'Well John, it was either the tiger or us. The tiger was jumping right where we were.'" Some lines from the song reference Richard and Nancy, such as "He went out tiger hunting with his his elephant and gun/In case of accidents he always took his mom," and "If looks could kill, it would have been us instead of him." Richard – who admitted the the lyric describing Bungalow Bill as "the all-American bullet-headed Saxon mother's son" was a close assessment of himself – later became a photographer for National Geographic.
11. Donovan's guitar playing influenced the Beatles' songwriting in India.Scottish singer Donovan was already a star by the time he arrived at Rishikesh. More than just a friend of the Beatles, Donovan was also a musical influence on them while they were at the ashram. In his 2005 autobiography, Donovan recalled showing Lennon his fingerpicking style on the guitar. "My new pupil went to it with a will," he wrote, "and he learned the arcane knowledge in two days. ... In this way John began to write in a whole new way, composing 'Dear Prudence' and 'Julia' in no time flat." Donovan also claimed that Harrison's White Album songwriting grew out of what the two were playing together in India. "He said he really had a Chet Atkins picking style," Donovan recalled in 2016. "But what George was fascinated with was these descending chord patterns that I was playing and out of it came the most heartrending song I've ever heard him write, but also that anybody had written: 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.'" (While in India, Donovan wrote his own song, "Hurdy Gurdy Man," which included a verse provided by Harrison.)
12. Prudence Farrow, subject of "Dear Prudence," wasn't that impressed by the Beatles' presence.The younger sister of actress Mia Farrow, Prudence Farrow was the inspiration behind the Beatles' “Dear Prudence.” The often-told story is that Prudence spent long amounts of time alone in her room meditating, which had Lennon and Harrison concerned about her well-being. ("She was trying to find God quicker than anyone else," Lennon once said. "That was the competition in Maharishi's camp: who was going to get cosmic first.") Prudence didn't get caught up in the hype surrounding the Beatles' presence at the ashram and was more focused on the meditation course. "I had been around famous people, but it had not been so interesting," she told Rolling Stone in 2015. "The Beatles being there – I can honestly say – did not mean anything to me. But those two people that I met, John and George, I really liked them, and they were very much up my alley." Now a Transcendental Meditation teacher, Prudence considers "Dear Prudence" to be a song that epitomized what the Sixties represented. "I feel that it does capture that essence of the course," she said, "that slightly exotic part of being in India where we went through that silence and meditation."
13. Mike Love put the "Russia" into "Back in the U.S.S.R."The Maharishi had taught Beach Boys singer Mike Love meditation in Paris after his band played a benefit show there for UNICEF – an experience that had an transformative effect on him. According to his memoir Good Vibrations, Love was invited to Rishikesh and upon arrival discovered that Paul McCartney was staying in the room next door. As Love recalled, McCartney was playing his acoustic guitar at the breakfast table one morning. The song he was working on, which happened to be influenced by the Beach Boys, would become "Back in the U.S.S.R." "I thought he was on to something," Love wrote. He told the Beatle: "'You know what you ought to do. In the bridge part, talk about the girls around Russia. The Moscow chicks, the Ukraine girls, and all that' ... If it worked for 'California Girls,' why not for the USSR?" In a 1984 Playboy interview, McCartney explained the story behind the song: "I wrote that as a kind of Beach Boys parody. And 'Back in the USA'' was a Chuck Berry song, so it kinda took off from there. I just liked the idea of Georgia girls and talking about places like the Ukraine as if they were California, you know? It was also hands across the water, which I'm still conscious of. 'Cuz they like us out there, even though the bosses in the Kremlin may not. The kids do. And that to me is very important for the future of the race."
14. Some tracks written in India didn't make it onto Beatles albums.While a majority of the songs written during the Beatles's stay in India were recorded for the White Album and Abbey Road, several other compositions from the period later ended up on the members' solo albums. One of the notable ones was Lennon's "Child of Nature," which was later reworked as "Jealous Guy" for 1971's Imagine; McCartney's "Junk" and "Teddy Boy" were recorded for his 1970 solo debut McCartney. A couple Harrison songs from India appeared on his on solo records, including "Not Guilty," which the Beatles first recorded in August 1968 but which Harrison revisited for his self-titled 1979 solo album; and "Circles," which ended up on 1982's Gone Troppo. Harrison also wrote "Sour Milk Sea," which was recorded by Jackie Lomax for the Beatles' Apple Records. "It's based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art," Harrison once said of the track. "'What is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere.' It's a picture, and the picture is called Sour Milk Sea – Kalladadi Samudra in Sanskrit. I used 'Sour Milk Sea' as the idea of – if you're in the shit, don't go around moaning about it: Do something about it." The Beatles also recorded another composition from India, the experimental "What's the New Mary Jane?," which later appeared on Anthology 3. Another song, "Spiritual Regeneration," was recorded in India and has remained unreleased.
"The pressure of being the Beatles had driven a wedge between them individually and that had all percolated in the months leading up to their visit to Rishikesh," Bob Spitz, a Beatles biographer, told The New York Times. "Once they got there, and they unburdened themselves from all of that, they reconnected with their songwriting and their creativity. It just flowed forth."
15. The accusations about the Maharishi remain a mystery.Fifty years after the Beatles' visit to India, there has never been an official and definitive account of the allegations surrounding the Maharishi that prompted Harrison and Lennon to leave the ashram. Reportedly, the Maharishi was accused of sexual misconduct toward a female follower – and that the propagator of those allegations was Alex "Magic Alex" Mardas. (In a statement to The New York Times, Mardas, who died in 2017, remembered looking through the window of the Maharishi's villa one night and seeing the guru hugging a teacher, a scene that, as he wrote, left him, Harrison and Lennon upset). Of the fallout, Lennon was the most vocal critic of the Maharishi; it prompted him to write the song "Sexy Sadie," which was originally titled "Maharishi."
"I said, 'We're leaving,'" Lennon recalled telling the Maharishi, as later told in The Beatles Anthology. "'Why?' 'Well, if you're so cosmic you'll know why.' And I just kept saying, 'You ought to know.' And he gave me a look like 'I'll kill you, you bastard.'" Cynthia Lennon recalled in Johnthat Lennon expressed his disenchantment about the Maharishi to her – that the yogi was too preoccupied with "public recognition, celebrities, and money."
No lawsuits were reportedly filed against the Maharishi over the misconduct accusations. Over time, some of the participants have doubted that the Maharishi did something inappropriate, and Harrison and McCartney had extended apologies to the yogi sometime in the 1990s; Harrison later said in The Beatles Anthology that the rumor was basically jealousy about the Maharishi: "This whole piece of bullshit was invented. ... There were a lot of flakes there; the whole place was full of flaky people. Some of them were us." Harrison's first wife Pattie Boyd later wrote in her memoir that the alleged incident may have provided an excuse for Lennon to leave the ashram to be with Yoko Ono. Another doubter of the rumors was Mike Love, who wrote in Good Vibrations: "Maharishi eagerly wanted the Beatles and the Beach Boys to help him spread the word about his movement. He was also surrounded by females devotees his entire life. Yet the only time he was ever accused of misconduct was when the Beatles were right there with him? Please." Since the schism, the Maharishi continued to promote the Transcendental Meditation movement; he also declined to talk about the Beatles late in life, according to The New York Times. He died in 2008 in his nineties.
16. The ashram is now a tourist spot.Sometime in the 1970s, the ashram in Rishikesh was abandoned and left to decay for more than three decades; a number of the buildings were destroyed while others remained. In 2003, the local forestry department took over the site, and 12 years later, the ashram was reopened as a tourist attraction. Previously, the walls of the ashram were painted on as part of an art project before authorities shut it down in 2012. "It was obvious to me that people wanted to claim this space and commemorate the legends that walked these grounds," street artist Pan Trinity Das, who worked on the walls, told CNN. "Almost everyone who enters the space is dumbfounded that such a historical and spectacular site was falling into ruin."
In addition to future renovations, there are also plans to develop a Beatles museum at the ashram, depending if the land could be taken from the forest department, said Meenakshi Sundaram, a tourist official, who added: "If that happens, we can attract more foreign tourists to Rishikesh."
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Beatles, Rishikesh, India 1968