THE YEAR: 1966
THE CONTROVERSY: The 11th album from the Beatles — released only in the U.S. and Canada — featured the grinning Fab Four wearing butchers smocks and draped with bloody pieces of meat and dismembered doll parts. The photos were first used in promotional campaigns in the U.K., including the release of their new single “Paperback Writer” — reportedly Paul McCartney suggested it be used as a cover image. When more than a few music critics and radio DJs who were sent advance copies of the album objected to the photo, the label knew they had a problem on their hands.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS: Roughly 750,000 albums were printed and assembled. The few that made it to stores were recalled. Some copies were taken to a landfill and buried; most, however, had a new cover — with a photo of the band posed around a steamer trunk — pasted on top of the offending art. In 2006, a pristine copy of the original album sold for $39,000.PHOTOS: John and Yoko, as Never Before Seen: New Photos from the Famous ‘Bed In’