One of The Beatles’ most controversial – and later sought-after – releases came out in America on this day. Yesterday… And Today was quickly withdrawn by Capitol Records after an outcry over the infamous ‘butcher’ photograph that adorned the sleeve.
The instant controversy over Robert Whitaker’s cover shot led to Capitol withdrawing the release the following day, although complaints about the release were instantly received from record dealers. Capitol had printed approximately 750,000 copies of the album, with approximately 10 mono copies pressed for every stereo version.
Few copies actually went on sale, and those that did became instant collectors’ items. A limited number were also sent to disc jockeys.
Capitol initially ordered record plants to destroy the covers, although they soon realised it would be more economical to paste a replacement image over the existing sleeves.
A new image of The Beatles gathered around a trunk, also taken by Robert Whitaker, was substituted; many fans attempted to peel off the so-called ‘trunk’ image, often resulting in damaged sleeves or glue residue remaining.
So many fans attempted to peel their covers that unpeeled trunk covers have since become sought-after, though their values are eclipsed by the first-state butcher sleeves. In December 2005 one such butcher cover was auctioned in Dallas, Texas for $39,000.