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Quotes from Andy Babiuk, in Beatles Gear: p.219

The idea was to stay some months and study the teachings. While there they would write songs, relax and meditate at the foot of the Himalayas. Donovan had met The Maharishi in California, and once initiated was invited to India for further instruction. "But it was unprecedented for stars such as we all were to just stop the merry-go-round and leave for the East," Donovan says of the gathering. "It was natural to try anything we wanted. We were privileged and wanted to bring the philosophy from the bohemian circles into pop music. We knew it would change millions of youths who were searching for the new consciousness."

Donovan says that a typical day in Rishikesh at first seemed like a typical day at home, with hundreds of media folk at the door. But the intruders soon went home. The routine then became meditation all day, with meals passed under doors. The inmates stopped for dinner and an evening gathering, where sometimes they would discuss their deep experiences. "Lennon would play a song he'd written," recalls Donovan. "We all would be writing. George and I worked up a couple. The Beatles' roadie Mal Evans and I worked on 'The Sun Is A Very Magic Fellow'. We had brought acoustics, I remember John and Paul had Martin D-28s, and George had ordered in a sitar and a tambura, plus tabla for Ringo."

Intrigued by Donovan's playing style on the little Gibson J-45 that the Scottish musician had brought along, Lennon asked if he'd teach him this fingerstyle or claw-hammer method. "I explained it would take three days at least to get the basics," says Donovan. "He was a good student. It's a difficult style that requires perseverance. When John had it down, he was so pleased to find a whole new way of songwriting emerge. That's what happens to a natural songwriter when you get a new set of performing skills. He immediately wrote 'Dear Prudence' and ]ulia'. Maybe 'Crippled Inside' too. John wrote lots of songs for The White Album based on this new style.

"Paul was not interested in study, though he did pick up bits of the fingerstyle from watching me teach John. Paul got a less accomplished set of moves from me, like he plays on 'Blackbird' perhaps ... George was happy to stick with his Chet Atkins-inspired fingerstyle. He was more into sitar that year anyway.'" Starr left India after only a few weeks and McCartney stayed a little over a month. Lennon and Harrison remained for almost two months before returning to England in disgust, a little disillusioned by The Maharishi's behaviour when he allegedly made a pass at one of the female guests. From that point on The Maharishi, transcendental meditation and India were never again a focus for Beatle attention.

Posted: 19 nov 2014

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