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On This Day in Music History

1966

Deeming its “butcher cover” in poor taste, Capitol Records recalls the new Beatles album, Yesterday and Today, which is scheduled for release the next day and has already been sent to stores.

The gory cover was shot in March by the Australian photographer Robert Whitaker, who is known for his artistry and sense of macabre. His concept is a play on how The Beatles are adulated religiously, with inspiration drawn from the works of the surrealists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. The shot of the group wearing butcher uniforms amid dismembered doll parts, raw pork and sausage links is meant to show how they are being torn apart by their celebrity.

Capitol president Alan Livingston is horrified by the photo, but John Lennon loves it, so he goes along with it to appease the star. About 60,000 advance copies are sent to stores and media outlets, which is when the backlash begins. When it becomes clear that retailers won’t put the album on shelves, Capitol begins the recall, claiming that the image was an attempt at “pop art satire” that didn’t work.

A furious effort begins to replace the cover. When the album is finally released on June 20, it is with an innocuous shot of the group posed around a trunk.

Word of the “butcher cover” gets out, as not every copy made its way to Capitol. It also gets out that recalled copies had the new cover pasted on top of the butcher shot, so many owners take a shot at steaming the album to see if they have the magic ticket. Copies of the album with the original cover become a top-line collector’s item and part of Beatles mythology. In 2016, a copy sells for $125,000.

1961 Patsy Cline gets in a nasty car accident in Nashville, when she is thrown through the windshield. She is hospitalized for about a month, during which time she is visited by the woman who will become her protégé: Loretta Lynn.

Music History Calendar