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The Beatles in India 1968

Updated on July 30, 2019

The Beatles had played in just about all English language and many non-English countries since 1963. However, India was never one of them. But India did play a critical role for the band in February, 1968.

A year earlier, George Harrison's wife, Pattie, had gone to a seminar on the teachings of the Maharishi Yogi regarding meditation. Six months later, after her rave about it, got the band to hear him on a 10-day course on Transcendental Meditation in Bangor, North Wales, in late August, 1967. While at the course, their manager, Brian Epstein, who discovered them in 1962-3, was found dead. Brian was the man who turned the band into a worldwide phenomenon and responsible for cleaning up the band's appearance into suits. His death shook all the members emotionally.

The Beatles were invited by the Maharishi to stay in India and they did so in February 1968. The band and their wives or girlfriends all went to the Himalayas, far from their crazy life. There were not many crazy press or fans in India. so, it was there, they found themselves again. George was the most interested in this meditation and mastering the sitar. The other Beatles went along for a long overdue holiday and introspection about their own lives.

The White Album

While in India, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, would write some 30 songs, although, many of these were not completed until returning back to England. These would eventually end up on the now infamous, White LP, entitiled, The Beatles, in November, 1968. The album had two LP's and glossy head shot photos of the band. Like all Beatle LP's, it quickly was Number 1 on the charts for months. However, not all the material in demo mode would end up on this or any LP.

The Esher Demos

These demos were all done at Harrison's home studio. It was just a gathering of the band to show off their material to the others for feedback, It would eventually be decided which songs from them would be on the LP. With just acoustic guitars, each one showcased their song to one another. While most of the songs on the LP were approved of in demo mode, many were not. The ones approved of in demo mode would sound very different than the LP, but one could hear that the song had real promise. These demos are now part of the re-released, remastered White LP, and is fascinating to hear.

The songs that did not make it are:

  • Sour Milk Sea - A Harrison number that with additional work, might have been better than the songs chosen for the LP
  • Junk - This McCartney tune is catchy and actually ended up on his first solo LP in 1970
  • Child of Nature - Lennon's beautiful song with a tune you cannot forget. Why this was not on it is unclear. Perhaps, John felt it needed something more and it's abrupt ending left one hanging. John would eventually use part of the melody for his song on his solo LP, Jealous Guy. But Child of Nature is far better and dream-like.
  • Circles- Another Harrison song that has interesting words but a monotone sound with the organ. It sounds like a Blue Jay Way type song. Not really his best.
  • Mean. Mr. Mustard - John's witty song that is somewhat different that what was done on Abbey Road in 1969. Still good, though.
  • Polythene Pam - Again, John's song that is a little different than what ended up on Abbey Road in 1969. Still good.
  • Not Guilty - Harrison's song that was deselected in the waning moments before the LP release. Not sure why, but it was fully done and the words are interesting with a a theme of " It's not my problem or fault". This should have replaced his Piggies song chosen for the LP.
  • What's the New Mary Jane - a junk, throw away song that makes zero sense of Lennon's. It was good thing it was discarded.


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