The Beatles will be rereleasing The White Album for its 50th anniversary on November 9, and what better way to celebrate than with 50 facts about this landmark album?
1. Which song on The White Album marks Ringo’s first solo songwriting credit on a Beatles album? “Don’t Pass Me By.”
2. The “Esher Demos” were recorded in George Harrison’s house in Esher, Surrey.
3. “The White Album” was the first Beatles album released on the band’s Apple Records label.
4. “Revolution 9” is the longest Beatles song ever, clocking in at 8:22.
5. The minimalist artwork for “The White Album” was created by artist Richard Hamilton, one of Britain’s leading figures in the creation and rise of pop art. 6. Hamilton initially envisioned the album artwork featuring a coffee stain and a smudge of green as an ode to Apple Records.
7. During the recording of “Helter Skelter”, Ringo Starr is the member who exclaims “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”
8. “Julia” features John Lennon exclusively–the only Beatles song to do so.
9. The song was written about John’s mother, Julia Lennon, but also contains a reference to Yoko Ono as “ocean child” (Yoko’s name means “child of the ocean” in Japanese.)
10. The finger-picking style Lennon adopted for “Julia” was taught to him by friend/pop singer Donovan.
11. Mike Love of the Beach Boys was the one suggesting McCartney include the line “all the girls around Russia” on “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
12. Ringo Starr quit the band for two weeks during the recording of the White Album. When he returned, Welcome Bcak Ringo was written in flowers on his drum kit.
13. This is why Paul McCartney is credited on drums on “Dear Prudence” and why Ringo’s name is nowhere to be seen.
14. “Dear Prudence” was inspired by Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence Farrow.
15. “Martha My Dear” was written about Paul McCartney’s Old English sheepdog.
16. Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott is responsible for informing the Beatles of his tribe’s statement “Ob la di ob la da, life goes on, bra.”
17. McCartney sent Scott a cheque to thank him for his contributions.
18. In a 2004 online study conducted by the BBC, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was voted the worst song in history. Yikes.
19. George Harrison’s mother contributed the line “What they need is a damn good whacking” on “Piggies.”
20. Charles Manson and his cult followers left hints of the lyrics during at the scenes of the Tate–LaBianca murders in August 1969.
21. Eric Clapton played guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He isn’t credited.
22. “Savoy Truffle” was written by Harrison to taunt Clapton and his love of chocolate.
23. The title was pulled from Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates.
24. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” was a headline on a gun magazine, which was a play on the Peanuts book “Happiness Is A Warm Puppy.”
25. “Blackbird” is not about a bird, but a black woman and her struggles across the pond in America. “I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird,” McCartney once said. “Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States.”
26. “Sexy Sadie” was written about the Maharishi. Harrison and Lennon left his course in India after Mia Farrow claimed he made sexual advances toward her. The Maharishi told Deepak Chopra he kicked the band out due to drug use. Either way, the band reenvisioned him as “Sexy Sadie.”
27. “Helter Skelter” was written as an attempt to “out rock” the Who.
28. The song shares the name of a British amusement park slide.
29. The lyrics of “Helter Skelter” discuss the rise and fall of the Roman empire.
30. The snippet from “Revolution 9” stating “Number nine” comes from an exam tape from the Royal Academy of Music.
31. The band had a 24-hour rush to meet the deadline for Harrison to fly the master tapes to Los Angeles to hand in to Capitol Records.
32. Paul McCartney fell asleep on the mixing board in the final hour of finishing “Helter Skelter.”
33. The “B.O.A.C” referenced in “Back In The USSR” stands for the British Overseas Airways Corporation.
34. The intro to “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” was actually a demo sound found on the Mellotron the band used in the studio.
35. George Harrison wrote an extra verse for “Piggies” that didn’t make the album; however, he has tacked these lyrics on at a concert in Japan.
36. Ringo Starr wrote “Don’t Pass Me By” over a five-year period.
37. “I Will” has no bass. The bass-y notes are made by Paul… with his mouth.
38. In 2015, Ringo Starr’s personal copy of The White Album with the serial number 0000001 sold for $790,000 at auction.
39. “Wild Honey Pie” was entirely made by Paul McCartney.
40. “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” was written by McCartney after he saw monkeys having sex in India.
41. The White Album’s initial working title was A Doll’s House.
42. During its initial run, The White Album was not released in mono in the United States.
43. The Guinness Book of Records lists The Beatles as having sold “nearly two million” copies in its first week of release in the US.
44. A proposed cover by artist John Byrne (Patrick) ended up on a Netherlands Beatles album named “De Mooiste Songs” years later.
45. The official title is simply The Beatles, but its pop culture prominence has caused the alternative name taken off.
46. “I’m Tired” references Sir Walter Raleigh, responsible for bringing tobacco to England in the 16th Century. His “stupid git” lyric is in response to his frustrations being addicted to cigarettes.
47. George Harrison’s song “Not Guilty” was initially proposed for the album.
48. There were over 100 takes with The Beatles, but it made his self-titled 10 years later.
49. “Hey Jude” was recorded during the session, but was released as a single versus being included on the album.
50. Only 16 of the 30 tracks have all four members of the band performing. As a result, many music historians believe this was the beginning of the end for the Fab Four.
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