Robert Whitaker shoots the “trunk cover” of “Yesterday And Today”

April 29, 1966 ?
Timeline More from year 1966
NEMS Enterprises, 5-6 Argyll Street, London, UK

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Likely on April 29, 1966, The Beatles visited Brian Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises offices in London for an interview with Bravo magazine, a popular German teen magazine that was sponsoring their upcoming German tour. Photographer Robert Whitaker, who had recently taken photos of The Beatles dressed as butchers and holding raw meat and dolls, also happened to be meeting with Epstein that day.

According to Beatles expert Bruce Spizer in his book “The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver“, it was decided to hold an impromptu photo session. There was no particular purpose for the photo shoot, but there was always demand for new photos of The Beatles. Whitaker took advantage of a blue steamer trunk that was available in the office and took several photos of the band.

Capitol Records was in the process of putting together a new Beatles album, combining tracks from recent UK releases that had not yet been released in the US, and tracks from the upcoming “Revolver” album. This album was to be named “Yesterday And Today” and Capitol requested a photo for the cover. Epstein sent them one of the photos from the steamer trunk session, but when he received the envisioned cover from Capitol, he decided to reject it. At this point, The Beatles insisted that one of the butcher photos be used instead. Epstein was opposed to this choice, but he was forced to submit the photo.

The butcher cover created a controversy, and Capitol Records quickly replaced it with another cover using the steamer trunk photo. Press officer Tony Barrow remembered differently and said that the steamer trunk session was hastily organized once Capitol scrapped the butcher cover.

One of the steamer trunk photos was also used as the cover of a French EP released in 1967.

Whitaker was instructed to take replacement shots in a great rush. He took the blandest of group photographs in Epstein’s office with the four unsmiling boys posing around and inside a huge travel trunk. Called upon to explain the “butcher” idea on various occasions over the years, Whitaker has said that the pictures were used out of context, “a cock-up”. They were intended to be one part of an unfinished three-part concept. In a radio interview he claimed quite incorrectly that The Beatles sent the “butcher” print to Capitol as “a little joke”. He told the UK’s Mojo magazine: “The front cover picture was to be of them holding sausages coming out of the nether region of a lady”. This was to represent the birth of The Beatles. Whitaker’s two-year stint as official photographer at NEMS Enterprises ended a few months after this extraordinary session.

Tony Barrow – From “John, Paul, George, Ringo & me: the real Beatles story“, 2006

Which is worse, Beatles with meat all over them, or four Beatles in a trunk in a hotel room. If you really think about it what would they be doing in a trunk?

Derek Taylor – From Wikipedia

I made that dumb-ass photo of the Beatles with the trunk in Brian Epstein’s office when we were all in Argyll Street, next door to the London Palladium. Derek is right. It was far more stupid than anything else I could think of. The trunk was to hand in the office, so I thought that by putting the light meter in the picture it might convey an idea of the speed of light running so fast that it shot straight back up your arse. It was just to see what could become a record cover.

Robert Whitaker – From Wikipedia

The original “trunk” cover, which was rejected by Brian Epstein:

From The Beatles Yesterday and Today Alternate Cover Promotional Slick | Lot #46275 | Heritage Auctions ( Beatles Yesterday and Today Alternate Cover Promotional Slick (Capitol, 1966). The Beatles’ pose is familiar, but the prominent blue color of this album cover is strikingly different from the “trunk cover” so familiar to most fans.

Alternate “trunk” cover #1:

From Beatles Yesterday and Today Alternate Album Cover Slick (Capitol, | Lot #89155 | Heritage Auctions ( Yesterday and Today Alternate Album Cover Slick (Capitol, 1966). A 15″ x 14.25″ full color slick marked “Color By Barclay” and “QU Litho in USA T 2553”. This is one of the “Trunk Cover” album designs prepared to replace the “infamous” recalled “Butcher Cover.” In this stereo example, a bright blue is used instead of the less-exciting white background in the final version. Also, note that this cover uses the full “Yesterday”…and Today title as seen on the back cover of all released editions of the album. A few minor marginal tears, a couple of light creases, overall very good.

Alternate “trunk” cover #2:

From Beatles "Yesterday… and Today" alternate cover poster- 16×20 | eBay

Alternate “trunk” cover #3:

The final “trunk” cover:

EP released in France, February 23, 1967. Side A: Strawberry Fields Forever / And Your Bird Can Sing – Side B: Penny Lane / I’m Only Sleeping

From Rest Day – The Beatles History (
From Rest Day – The Beatles History (
From Rest Day – The Beatles History (

Last updated on December 23, 2023

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