If you lived through the 1960s, you might feel old to learn that the Beatles’ “The White Album” turns 50 this year. Then again, if that’s the case, you’ll likely feel happy to learn that Abbey Road on the River, which returns May 24-28, will celebrate the album with special concerts and programs.
The festival will again be held in Jeffersonville at Big Four Station Park, last year drawing an estimated 15,000 people over the course of the Memorial Day weekend.
From the screaming “Helter Skelter” to the gorgeous strains of “Dear Prudence,” the album — which was titled simply “The Beatles” but became known as “The White Album” due to its plain packaging — produced one classic after another in what some believe is the band’s finest work.
At the time, Rolling Stone called it “the best album they have ever released, and only the Beatles are capable of making a better one,” adding that it was a “more deliberate, self-conscious, pretentious, organized and structured, coherent and full, more perfect album than ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ ”
Much of the album was written while the band was in India studying meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, giving it a greater reach and richer textures than previous efforts.
The main “White Album” concert tribute takes place Friday at 10 p.m. with a special performance by the tribute band All You Need Is Love.
On Saturday, for hard-core fans, the Grammy-winning engineer Geoff Emerick will speak on the band’s creative process in the studio and how many of the sounds on some of their most-loved albums were created.
Emerick was 19 when he became the band’s chief studio engineer, and he worked on the seminal albums “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road.” Tired of the band’s constant bickering, he stopped working in the studio with the Beatles in July 1968, doing engineering work on “The Beatles.” Emerick’s talk is ticketed separately, and will take place at 10 a.m.
But for the Abbey Road on the River purists, there will be plenty of the same, from the popular Love re-creation, a note-for-note tribute to the popular 2006 soundtrack album, to 60 bands from around the world playing on eight stages, indoor and out.
In addition, the Grammy-winning band America will perform on Saturday, playing hits like “Sister Golden Hair” and “A Horse With No Name.” Vanilla Fudge, the 1960s rock band that scored a hit with their cover of the Supremes’ “Keep Me Hanging On,” also will perform on both Friday and Saturday.
Beatles tribute acts this year include BritBeat, Hal Bruce, Jukebox Beatles, Forever Abbey Road, Estefy Lennon, Meet the Beetles, Mark Beyer, Rubber Soul and plenty more, including local artists such as the Rigbys and Nick Peay.
There will be a playground area for children, lots of Beatles merchandise, interactive art installations, food and beverage services, and art and craft vendors.
Ticket prices vary and can be purchased online in advance. The festival is sponsored by WAVE-3, and general admission tickets are $20 if purchased in advance using the discount code “Wave 3 News.”