The Summer of Love gave way to the spring of enlightenment for the Beatles and their friends and family – and now that moment in Fab Four history is being marked in a new display at The Beatles Story opening today.
Beatles in India uses images captured by Paul Saltzman along with memories from sisters Pattie and Jenny Boyd to give a flavour of the sights, sounds and thoughts of the group which travelled to Rishikesh in February 1968 to meditate with the Maharishi.
The Beatles, their wives and girlfriends, and a number of other well-known faces including Donovan, Mia Farrow and Mike Love of the Beach Boys, were captured on camera at the North Indian retreat.
Jenny Boyd, then 20, had spent six months in San Francisco the previous spring and summer, and had also travelled to Bangor with the Beatles to hear the Maharishi in August 1967, the weekend Brian Epstein died.
Paul Saltzman's photo of the Beatles with the Maharishi. Top: Pattie Boyd in the new exhibition.
She recalls: “We were all on a spiritual journey anyway, and then they (George Harrison and wife Pattie) asked if I’d come to India with them.
“I remember us all playing the Ganges, Pattie and me and a few other people in the ashram that we’d made friends with, and we’d all cool our feet and chat. It was just the whole atmosphere and the meditation and the environment which was just so unbelievable.
“It was like being in heaven.”
Pattie says: “I remember the environment was very joyful and peaceful, and the atmosphere was so lovely. We were in the foothills of the Himalayas where the air is very pure.
“I’m short sighted but I found I could see further. The clarity of vision for me represented the clarity of my spiritual mind.”
Jenny and Pattie Boyd with Paul Saltzman at the launch of Beatles in India. Pic: The Beatles Story, Liverpool
“I was out there for two months, and then Pattie, George and I went to South India with Ravi (Shankar),” says Jenny, who had previously inspired Donovan – another Rishikesh visitor - to write Jennifer Juniper.
“I loved the meditation and was very sad to leave. It was very sudden. But going to South India made it a little easier.”
Rishikesh proved a fertile environment for The Beatles who wrote much of the White Album during their time there. And they weren’t the only ones to be creative.
“I remember sitting in the early mornings when the sun was just beautiful, and writing poems,” Jenny says. “I’ve still got some of them. Just about how beautiful it all was.”
The exhibition, opening today, February 15, also includes one of Ravi Shankar’s sitars, and is part of The Beatles Story experience at the Albert Dock.