The history of the Butcher Cover from the Beatles Yesterday And Today Album cover remains controversial as much as the Beatles do today. Some versions imply war protest, some imply protest against Capitol Records handling of their careers, and yet some imply, it was the photographer’s dark witted humour and undertone personal opinion of the human element as a star vs. just being human was all about. All versions of the truth smack of existential assumptions that people would, get it, or grasp what was being implied, and for the 60’s, maybe many people did.
The cover of Yesterday And Today, showed the Beatles in butcher’s jackets, adorned with raw pieces of meat, dismembered baby dolls, glass eye balls and other assorted massacre sundries. When delivered to DJ’s around the country for playtime, out cries of disgust of the jacket photo, began a scurried recall of the albums to fix the problems. Within 5 days time the album was re-released with many of the 750,000 Beatles Butcher cover with a pasted on new cover right over top of the old picture. The new cover had a steamer trunk with the Beatles leaning on it.
Early 1960’s Capitol records did not believe The Beatles were going to be a hit, and treated their music accordingly. The company chopped songs off British released albums and repackaged them with B-side music, mixing them with instrumental flip sides all of which seemed to be all in a day’s business for Capitol. However, the company kept pumping out Beatles music at a faster pace than the Home Record Company EMI, in Britain, as fans grew here in America. How did they do it? Capitol placed only 11 songs to EMI’s fourteen on every album, padding soundtracks with instrumentals, and interview clips.
Who Was Behind The Beatles Butcher Cover?
Although it could be believable that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Star were behind the Butcher Cover, it was in fact the photographer that took and conceived of the controversial photos. The Beatles promoters often had wished they could have been verbally censored in the early 1960’s with the Vietnam War and social issues, the fabulous four were usually very outspoken. It was Robert Whitaker the photographer that decided to depict the Beatles in the strange and unusual photos. A series of four photos were intended to show how they had risen to fame and were idolized, but it needed to remind all that they were just men. However, in true 60’s form, you had to be there to get it.
A case of the original albums were taken and stored away by then Capitol executive John Livingston. In 1987, he started selling the collection at a modest price of 35-40,000 each in today’s market that is the minimum price they would get. Many album owners steamed or tried to peel the new covers off to get a look at the controversial cover, at today’s price they surely wish to turn back the clock. The history of the Butcher Cover depending on who is telling the tale is full of conspiracy theories, which is what the 21st century craves and loves.