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Beatles song ‘Hey Jude’ was almost never released because vinyl cover was considered ‘pornographic’

Record distributors thought stores wouldn’t want to stock the single because of the ‘graphic’ label

The Beatles song “Hey Jude” was almost never a hit because the apple label on the vinyl was considered “pornographic”.

A newly discovered letter reveals that the quartet’s 1968 song, their first release under Apple Records, was almost scrapped because record executives thought the logo looked like a vagina.

The letter, dated 28 August 1968, written by Capitol Records president Stan Gortikov, reveals distributors thought stores wouldn’t want to stock the single.

“Hey Jude” – with B-side “Revolution” – went on to sell 8 million copies worldwide. The logo remained.

The letter, addressed to Apple boss Ron Kass, reads: “Here’s a wild and unanticipated problem to brighten up your day I just received a call from a very large and influential rack jobber in the western United States. He opened the conversation by saying, ‘Are you guys serious? Do you know what you’re doing? Do you really intend to sell products bearing the new Apple label?’

The letter adds that the “graphic similarity” was “noticed by all of his key employees”.

“[He] doubted that many of his chain store customers would even be willing to stock and display products containing the label.”

The new document was released ahead of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ final public performance on the roof of Apple’s headquarters in London, which took place in January 1969.

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