Friday, March 19, 2010

What Were the Origins of the Beatles Butcher Cover?

By Scott Heron

The Beatles record, 'Yesterday and Today' was one of a number of Beatles albums that were released to an American market but not released in the UK. This was actually fairly typical practice at the time as tracks that were previously unreleased in the US were put together on a separate album and issued in the US market alone.

However, due to extraordinary artwork on the cover, this particular recording became known as the Beatles butcher cover.

Beatles fans, and the media in general, had become used to smiling and laughing images of the legendary band and were not prepared for the so called butcher cover. The image for this release still had their smiling faces, but it was far from the jovial pictures everyone was used to.

All four band members were wearing butchers' smocks, with John, Paul and Ringo seated whilst George was standing behind them. All the seated band members were adorned with chunks of raw red meat in their laps and in John's case, hanging over his shoulder. There were even several slabs of meat strategically placed along the floor. Amongst the band were eyeballs and even false teeth, plus, and perhaps most shockingly, decapitated dolls. This was a particularly gruesome album cover.

After advanced copies had been released to the media numerous complaints were filed to Capitol Records and 750,000 records were quickly recalled. A new image of the band leaning against a steamer trunk was pasted over the original butcher cover and sent out to the retailers.

The Origins Of The Beatles Butcher Cover

One theory surrounding the origins of the butcher cover was that they were protesting at the way the US market were being issued with albums that were made up of tracks from different recordings and that they typically had only 11 tracks on them as opposed to the more regular 14. However this doesn't appear to be the case. The 'butcher' photograph was taken before there were even plans for another album of this nature to be released in the UK.

The original concept for the photograph came from an Australian photographer called Robert Whitaker and it is clear that the band were keen to work with him on this concept but had not planned it as a protest and the image was taken out of context. However, the 750,000 recalled albums have since become collectors items as the original butcher picture can still be found under the new, pasted on cover.

More Information On The Beatles Butcher Cover

If you are a Beatle fan and you would like to find out more information on the Beatles butcher cover then you should head over to Once you are there you can find out even more on this amazing album history has named the Butcher Cover!

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1 comment:

  1. All of the Beatles were vegetarians, except maybe John. It could have been simply a protest of meat. Maybe not though. I'm not sure if they were vegetarians yet. Think that might have started in India.