The White Album
The Beatles was released in the UK on November 22, 1968 as Apple
PMC 7067-8 (mono) and PCS 7067-8 (stereo) and in the US on November 25,
1968 in stereo as Apple SWBO 101. The White Album was not released in
mono in the US.
The White Album's original working title was A Doll's House,
which is the name of Henrik Ibsen's masterpiece
play written in the 19th century.
In addition, according to some accounts,
an illustration was prepared for the cover of A Doll's
House by the famed artist Patrick but the plain white cover was
opted for instead. This illustration eventually showed up on
Parlophone's The Beatles Ballads in 1980, the Dutch release of which,
De Mooiste Songs (The Most Beautiful Songs), is shown below.
Recording sessions for the White Album started with the song Revolution
on May 30, 1968, and concluded with take three of Julia on
October 13, 1968. Mixing for the album was completed five days later on
October 18, 1968.
This album marked the first on the then newly formed Apple label,
which had made its first appearance as a 45 three months earlier on August
30, 1968 with the Hey Jude/Revolution single, both of which
were recorded during the White Album sessions.
Also recorded during the White Album sessions were What's the New
Mary Jane and Not Guilty. These two tracks were only available
on bootlegs for many years, but were finally released legitimately for the first
time 28 years after they were recorded on Anthology 3 in 1996.
The Guiness Book of Records lists The Beatles as having sold
"nearly two million" copies in its first week of release in the US.
White Album Goodies
Four 8x10 glossies, one of each Beatle, were included as inserts with
the White Album. These pictures were taken by photographer John Kelley
in the autumn of 1968.
In the United States, one small photograph of Paul and one small
drawing of Yoko and John in the poster that was included with the
White Album were censored.
On the left are scans from a copy of the White Album poster included
with a White Album manufactured by EMI in Germany. On the right are
unretouched scans of the same places on the poster from a copy made by
Capitol in America.
Oddities and Rarities
Even with the release of the Anthology series, there are still
many recordings in the EMI vault that have not been released. Here
are some of those which offer us a peek behind the scenes of the
making of the White Album.
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
- The Peter Sellers Tape
Over the course of the White Album sessions, many different
recordings of this song were made in several different styles.
Assistant recording engineer for the session Richard Lush recalls
that after four or five days of redoing the song, John in desperation
finally went to the piano and sharply banged out the first few notes of the
song. He liked it, they went with it, and that's the take they
released. Here is a sound clip of that actual moment, from the early
tape of the White Album that Ringo gave to his friend, Peter Sellers.
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps - The Lost Verse
- George's Demo
In this clip of the original demo of the
song, George sings a verse that was not included in the final
Studio Take 1
Later, in the first studio recording of the song,
the verse has evolved slightly. But it still did not make it to the
- Martha My Dear
Let It Be Sessions
This is Paul playing the piano part of Martha My Dear while
discussing rock 'n roll chords during downtime of the Let It Be
Paul and Martha
- Black Bird
The Peter Sellars Tape
Another behind the scenes look at a White Album song from the Peter
Sellers Tape, in this clip you
can hear a few seconds of the beginning of the song that was trimmed
off on the album.
- Why Don't We Do It In The Road?
Let It Be Sessions
While fooling around on the set of Let It Be, John improvises
these alternate lyrics for the first line of the song. He'd probably
just had breakfast.
The Final Word
Over the years some critics have said that the White Album is too self-indulgent, some have said
that it's too long and could have easily been one great disc.
In this sound clip from Anthology, Paul puts these criticisms to
rest, once and for all.
Historical data from The Beatles Album File and Complete Discography
by Jeff Russell and The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark
This page last enhanced September 1, 2008.