Released on November 22, 1968, The Beatles’ self-titled ninth studio album became known as the White Album due to its distinctive plain white cover. It spent 16 weeks at number one in Australia.
That was 50 years ago.
To celebrate the milestone, Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), Tim Rogers (You Am I) and ARIA Award-winning solo artist Josh Pyke are reuniting to perform the album from start to finish at some of Australia’s finest venues.
They will be backed by a 17-piece rock orchestra led by musical director Rex Goh, with guitars, strings, horns and two drummers.
The White Album Concert is one of the most successful Beatles events ever staged in Australia, selling out venues on tour in 2009 and 2014.
“I come from a three-piece band, that’s what I’ve done since high school, so it’s such a thrill to be on stage with so many people,” Cheney says.
“The great thing about The White Album Concert is it’s a big, powerful rock show. Even though it’s at venues like the Opera House, it’s not tame. The band really belts it out. It’s incredible to be standing in front of that force.”
Opening with Back In The U.S.S.R and concluding with Good Night, the 30-song White Album features classics such as Helter Skelter, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?, Glass Onion, Birthday and Revolution 1.
Cheney says the aim is not to imitate The Beatles. This is a celebration, not a tribute band.
“We’re bringing what we do in our own bands and our own careers to the show,” he explains. “This is not us pretending to be The Beatles.”
Cheney, Rogers, Pyke and Jamieson are, however, doing something The Beatles never did – the Fab Four never performed the White Album live.
“That’s the other cool thing about this project,” Cheney says. “You can’t go on YouTube and look up The Beatles playing anything off the White Album because they just didn’t.”
Pyke describes it as an “experimental” and “diverse” record for its time.
“It’s hard to sum it up and I think that’s the beauty of the record and why so many people love it. It is hard to put it in a box,” he says.
“None of us does the songs exactly the way The Beatles did them, because then it would be like a pastiche rather than a homage.
“It’s a completely different mindset to get into someone else’s songs and show the songs the respect they deserve; not just cover a song but really put yourself into it.”