It was 48 years ago today (November 22nd, 1968) that the Beatles released their 30-song self-titled double album, which was commonly known as The White Album. The album's release followed the group's extended stay in Rishikesh, India where they studied transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Most of the songs from The White Album were written while the group was in India, including "Back In The U.S.S.R.," "Yer Blues," "I Will," "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill," "Revolution 1," "Rocky Raccoon," "I'm So Tired," "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da," "Dear Prudence," "Mother Nature's Son," and John Lennon's thinly-veiled attack on the Maharishi, titled "Sexy Sadie."
Other highlights on the album included Eric Clapton guesting on George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Julia," "Helter Skelter," "Glass Onion," "Martha My Dear," "Birthday," and Ringo Starr's first composition, the country-flavored "Don't Pass Me By."
Several songs originally intended for The White Album turned up on later solo albums, such as "Junk," which Paul McCartney released on his 1970 solo debut McCartney; "Child Of Nature," which Lennon rewrote as "Jealous Guy" for his 1971 album Imagine; "Not Guilty," which made its way onto Harrison's 1979 self-titled album; "Circles," which saw release on his 1982 album Gone Troppo; and McCartney's "Cosmically Conscious" which appeared on 1993's Off The Ground album -- with an extended version appearing on the B-side of the title track's single.
Paul Saltzman, the author of the photo book, The Beatles In India, spent weeks within the group's inner circle at the Maharishi's ashram. He says that he never so much as saw the Beatles smoke a cigarette -- let alone partake in any illicit drugs: "That was their single most creative period of time in their history. Dennis O'Dell, (who) used to be the head of Apple Films in the '60s, said to me about a year ago: 'Do you know how many songs they wrote in India?' -- and I said, 'Do you know how much?' And he said, 'I sure do. When John and Paul came back I asked them how many songs did they write? And Paul answered '48.' In less than eight weeks. Paul was only there five weeks, George and John eight weeks and of course Ringo, 11 days."
The group's biggest hit, "Hey Jude" -- and its B-side, "Revolution" -- were both recorded during sessions for The White Album, but were left off the album after being released as a single the previous August.
The Beatles' White Album hit Number One on December 28th, 1968 and went on to top the charts for nine non-consecutive weeks.