On July, 28, 1968, during the recording of “The White Album,” the Beatles spent the day tearing around London to shoot some publicity photographs, in particular for the cover of “Life” magazine. That day became known as the “Mad Day Out.”
The Beatles attracted hoards of fans wherever they went, so the entourage had to keep moving on to new locations, leading to a frenetic shooting schedule. Paul McCartney had originally asked Don McCullin to shoot that day, but five other photographers also showed up. Rounding out the party was Yoko Ono, Francie Schwartz, and Gary Evans, Mal’s six-year-old son.
The “Mad Day Out” photo session appears to be all fun and frolics, but considered against the background of the Beatles’ lives and careers at the time, some of the images take on a whole new meaning. The band was in the middle of recording “The White Album” at Abbey Road Studios, a recording notoriously fraught with tension and dissent. They were also launching their new corporation, Apple Corps, which was a great source of stress for all concerned.
Previous recording sessions had been off-limits to outsiders, but “The White Album” sessions saw the attendance and influence of Yoko Ono, as well as the presence of McCartney’s girlfriend at the time, Francie Schwartz. The sessions became unfocused, with different band members recording in different studios. The tension culminated in Ringo Starr leaving the band on August 22nd, returning two weeks later after pleas from the others.