Editor’s Note: This is a little taste ahead of our upcoming virtual debut (10/9) of Meeting the Beatles In India, part of our series, The Screening Room. Info on purchasing tickets follows, so hope you’ll join us!
The story goes that John Lennon wrote the song “Sexy Sadie” as a “diss” to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This was because the holy man had purportedly hit on/slept with some of the young women – including Mia Farrow – during the Beatles’ (and friends) stay in Rishikesh. This is the tale that’s been handed down ever since The White Album was released.
But the story isn’t true.
Alexis Mardas, a.k.a. “Magic Alex”, had established himself in the Fab Four’s orbit as an electronics engineer. His ideas and inventions were more than a little bit “out there”; ultimately, he cost the Apple organization millions of dollars in failed projects. But during the Beatles’ 1968 trip to India, he still held plenty of sway.
[Meeting The Beatles In India will have a “virtual premiere” on 10/9 Click here to purchase tickets.]
Seeing how dedicated the group members were becoming in their spiritual pursuits – and their growing devotion to the Maharishi –he knew that his role as an influencer (especially to John) was being challenged.
So, in the fine tradition of palace intrigues, he started a rumor. While Ringo and Paul had already departed, Mardas got in John’s and George’s ear, suggesting that their teacher was a horndog. When the two Beatles confronted the Maharishi with this “news,” his answers didn’t satisfy them and they abruptly left the compound. It didn’t help that Mardas was rushing them out by speculating that the guru might throw some black magic their way. “Sexy Sadie” (originally titled “Maharishi”) was the last song Lennon wrote before departing.
Ultimately, it was proven that Mardas’ story was a hoax, and both Harrison and McCartney offered their apologies to the Maharishi.
Still, the dustup resulted in one of the more memorable songs (and legends) on The White Album. Magic Alex had unwittingly cast a real spell on the project.[Meeting The Beatles In India will have a “virtual premiere” on 10/9 — John Lennon’s birthday! – with audience interaction, merch, and much more. Click here to purchase tickets.]
-The CS Team