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Saturday, August 26, 1967

The Beatles join a seminar with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Last updated on April 17, 2024

On August 24, 1967, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at London’s Hilton Hotel. The Maharishi invited them to a five-day retreat in Bangor, Wales, starting the next day. On August 25, accompanied by their partners and other celebrities, the four Beatles travelled to Bangor by train. Cynthia Lennon missed the train but arrived later by car with Jane Asher.

On this day, August 26, The Beatles and 260 other people attended an initiation course in Transcendental Meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, after which they held a press conference announcing they had given up taking drugs. This announcement came two months after Paul admitted he had taken LSD.

The following day, The Beatles abruptly returned to London after being announced their manager, Brian Epstein, had died.

The seminar was in a school: you sit around and he tells you how to meditate, then you go up to your room and try it. And, of course, you can’t do it for the first half hour. You’re sitting there and you’ve got a mantra, but you keep thinking: ‘Bloody hell, that train was a bit much, wasn’t it? — oh, sorry — mantra – du du du du du du – bloody hell – I wonder what our next record’s going to be? – oh, stop, stop, stop…’ You spend all your first few days just trying to stop your mind dealing with your social calendar. But it was good, and I eventually got the hang of it.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

The next day, Maharishi gave an introductory seminar to his three hundred or so devotees, seated cross-legged on the floor, and afterward the impromptu press conference took place. Reporters were swarming all over the college and there was no one to keep them in check. I am sure they had little idea who Maharishi was and perhaps thought the Beatles were pulling a stunt. But the Beatles said that not only were they deadly serious, they were no longer going to take drugs, in accordance with Maharishi’s teaching. Just a month before, they had put their names to a petition in The Times calling for cannabis to be legalized. “It was an experience we went through,” said Paul. “Now it’s over. We don’t need it anymore. We think we’re finding new ways of getting there.”

Pattie Boyd – From “Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me“, 2008

We went to Bangor for a weekend to learn how to meditate, and we were initiated there. It was a bit funny going to those camps because it was like going back to school. Just the nature of it meant staying in a classroom and we’d been used to our nice comfortable homes or hotels so to be staying in an old school on a camp bed wasalittle bit disconcerting. Then trying to learn to meditate. It’s not that easy, you don’t just pick it up like that, it’s an effort and you’ve got to be involved, so it was like going back to school. And of course the food was all canteen food. But we were interested enough to learn the system, which we did.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

There was a press conference. It was suggested that as we were going with the Maharishi, it might be a good idea to accommodate the press; it also saved them waiting around outside our windows. I don’t remember that we specifically said that we’d given up drugs – but at the time I think we probably had, anyway.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

You cannot keep on taking drugs forever. You get to the stage where you are taking fifteen aspirins a day, without having a headache. We were looking for something more natural. This is it. It was an experience we went through. Now it’s over and we don’t need it any more. We think we’re finding other ways of getting there.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

We left the house at about half-past six the same night, and we made our way to the college.  We came up to the main gates where a crowd of only 15 people were there. We saw Marianne Faithful across the courtyard, but we weren’t satisfied at only being outside the college.  We walked along the road by the college.  We walked along the road by the college and found a small path going alongside the college. This path led to an archway just about 50 feet from the building in which THEY were in. We dared not go any farther as there was a policeman with an absolutely huge ______ guarding the door.  We waited there for about half an hour and decided to ask one of the men if the Beatles would be coming out soon.  He was very nice and said that the Beatles would be coming out before long to go to a lecture in a hall about 100 yards away.  We dashed along to the hall to find that we were the first there.  The crowd gathered before long, but it was only a small crowd of about 60. 

I had a present for Paul.  It was a huge fluffy flower on a stick.  I had inscribed on the stick “TO PAUL FROM DILLYS”.  The followers of Maharishi began to come to the hall.  We had a talk from a lady, warning us that The Beatles were here not for singing but for meditating.  And that we shouldn’t’ scream or mob them.  I was beginning to get nervous by now and wishing that I wasn’t in the front row of the queue.  But suddenly there was a blaze of flashbulbs and I heard a cry from my sister, “Oh isn’t Ringo good looking!”  And there walking towards us were John and Ringo.  They both said “Hello” to us and they were so close that we could have rubbed shoulders.  They walked slowly by – they are so better looking than their photos.  John was clean-shaven, but Ringo had a moustache.  George followed them.  He also said “Hello” and flashed a quick smile which showed those gorgeous white teeth.  George had a moustache and his hair was almost reaching his shoulders.  And following George was Paul!  His tall slim figure was easily recognizable.  His pictures do not do him any justice at all.  He walked slowly up by me.  I clutched my present in a shaky hand and I told myself that it would be now or never.  I took a deep breath and I put my present in his hand.  He turned around and looked at me. He is so good-looking.   His hair is black and shiny, his eyes slant, and are gentle.  He said, “Oh, is this for me?”  I said, “Yes, it’s a present for you.”  He said in a sincere voice, “Are you sure you don’t’ want it back?”  I could just about manage to say, “No, you can keep it.  It’s a present.”  He clutched the stick to him, took one step forward, looked back again and smiled (and oh what a gorgeous smile), and said, “Thanks love” in that gorgeous Liverpudlian accent.  For the next five minutes, I could only say “He spoke to me.  He spoke to me.”

After the crowd had dispersed my sister and I went to the large windows of the hall.  We went to the nearest window by the stage and watched and listened to Maharishi talking to The Beatles and his followers.  Maharishi and the Beatles sat on the stage, and the followers sat on seats in front of the stage.  Paul wore an ice blue Chinese-style shirt, green trousers, and brown leather shoes.  He sat most of the time with his right leg crossed over the left and his hands clutched his right knee. George wore a multi-colored shirt and orange trousers and only sandals on his feet.  Ringo wore a multi-colored shirt, green corduroy trousers, and mustard-color suede boots.  John also wore a multi-colored shirt, white trousers, and only sandals on his feet.  Paul noticed us once and smiled.  But George was the worst.  He kept looking at us through the corner of his eyes every five minutes.  We arrived home at about eleven o’clock that night. […]

Contact with the Beatles – As told by an anonymous girl in Wales – Around the Beatles fan club newsletter – October 1967 – From Meet the Beatles for Real: Contact with The Beatles

From Wikipedia:

[…] The retreat was held at Bangor Normal College and served as an initiation course in Transcendental Meditation. The Beatles and around 300 others learned the basics of TM, and each initiate was given a personal mantra. In a 1967 interview, Harrison explained the process:

Each person’s life pulsates in a certain rhythm, so they give you a word or sound, known as a mantra, which pulsates with that rhythm. By using the mantra … to transcend to the subtlest level of thought … the mantra becomes more subtle and more subtle, until finally you’ve lost even the mantra, and then you find yourself at that level of pure consciousness.

All initiates were asked to donate a week’s wages. Lennon described the financial arrangement as “the fairest thing I’ve heard of”, adding: “We’ll make a donation and we’ll ask for money from anyone we know with money … anyone in the so-called establishment who’s worried about kids going wild and drugs and all that. Another groovy thing: everybody gives one week’s wages when they join … And that’s all you ever pay, just the once.”

On 26 August, the Beatles announced at a press conference that they were giving up hallucinogenic drugs. The announcement came as an about-turn after McCartney had publicly admitted in June 1967 to taking LSD, to the dismay of his bandmates. Their renouncing was in keeping with the Maharishi’s teachings, yet it was a group decision made before meeting the Maharishi. The Maharishi did advise them privately to avoid involvement with the “Ban the Bomb” movement and to support the elected government of the day. Lennon later described the retreat as “incredible” and recalled that Jagger immediately telephoned his Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richards, telling him to come down with Brian Jones and the other members of their band. […]

From Throwback photos show The Beatles visiting Bangor 55 years ago – North Wales Live (dailypost.co.uk) – The Beatles at Bangor University. George Harrison with wife Patti Boyd and Paul McCartney, August 26 1967.
From Throwback photos show The Beatles visiting Bangor 55 years ago – North Wales Live (dailypost.co.uk) – The Beatles in Bangor, August 1967.(Image: Mirrorpix)
From The Beatles in Bangor – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru) – Photo by Henry Grossman.
From The Beatles in Bangor – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From The Beatles in Bangor – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From Throwback photos show The Beatles visiting Bangor 55 years ago – North Wales Live (dailypost.co.uk) – The Beatles with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, August 1967.(Image: Daily Post Wales)
From 26 August 1967 – UK, Bangor a seminar and press meeting – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Throwback photos show The Beatles visiting Bangor 55 years ago – North Wales Live (dailypost.co.uk) – Paul McCartney and Jane Asher in Bangor, Sunday August 27, 1967.(Image: Mirrorpix)
From 26 August 1967 – UK, Bangor a seminar and press meeting – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)

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