In the aftermath of their ground-breaking and hugely successful release of Sergeant Pepper in May 1967, The Beatles experienced the death of their long-time manager and mentor Brian Epstein, and they came under the influence of the Maharishi.

At his request, all four Beatles and their partners travelled to Rishakesh in India to the Maharishi's Academy of Transcendental Meditation. Their aim was to find a way to deal with the grief following Epstein's death.

Coincidentally, it also provided the backdrop and inspiration for their follow-up to Sergeant Pepper.

By the time they returned to George Harrison's home, equipped with a four-track recording system, they were ready for a show-and-tell of the songs they had started during their time in India.

The cover of The Beatles, aka The White Album.
The cover of The Beatles, aka The White Album.

John Lennon recalls he had written 15 new songs, Paul a dozen, and George six. In what became known as the Esher demos (named after the London suburb where Harrison lived), they laid down the initial versions of what was to become the lynch-pin of the new record.

Fifty years ago this month, Apple Records released a double LP simply called The Beatles, which has become known as The White Album.

Giles, son of the Beatles producer George Martin, has curated a remarkable 50th anniversary edition of the album which is breath-taking.

His stated aim was to capture The Beatles as they would have sounded in the studio creating The White Album songs. The re-mastered sound definitely delivers on his promise. It's crisp and clean, and The Beatles' musicianship has never been better displayed, especially the drumming of Ringo Starr.

Not only has the recording of the two albums been refreshed from the master tapes, in the four LP version we also get to hear The Esher Demos.

These were the precursors to the songs that were then developed and produced in the studio between late May and October 12, 1968. To hear these early versions of what would become Beatles classics is like being introduced to the Holy Grail. To then listen to the fully formed takes which became The White Album is a leap of faith that is simply mind-blowing.

Nowhere in their storied career have we been so exposed to The Beatles' music-making process and creativity in this way. Together with George Martin, they developed their high quality demos into pop music masterpieces.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Dear Prudence, Blackbird, Glass Onion, Sexy Sadie, Revolution, Martha My Dear and Helter Skelter are among 30 tracks that demonstrate the individual and combined talents of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are as relevant now as they were in November 1968.


Fifty years on Giles Martin and his team of engineers have produced a masterpiece at least the equal of their gold-standard previous record Sergeant Pepper. Expect these discussions to reach a frenzy over the next few months.