Prince Philip and Across The Universe
Today we got the news that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has passed away, at the age of 99. This is the story about a unique collaboration which was initiated by him in 1967, as the highest patron of the World Wildlife Fund, and involves The Beatles.
In December 1967, Prince Philip invited people in the recording industry in Great Britain, among them George Martin to a dialogue about what British musicians could possibly do for the World Wildlife Fund.
Eventually, this resulted in a U.K. charity LP to which The Beatles donated a previously unreleased recording, “Across The Universe”.
This was the first version of the song, opening with nature sounds and with a couple of Beatles fans, Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease providing backing vocals.
The lyrics from the song also gave name to the LP, “No one’s gonna change our world”, which was released by EMI on December 12, 1969 on EMI’s Regal Starline label, catalogue no. SRS 5013.
Another character instrumental in getting the project off the ground was comedian Spike Milligan, who put the album together.
The album includes two tracks from Milligan and one from his Goon Show castmate Harry Secombe. Prince Philip provided liner notes.
Another EMI group, The Hollies also gave en unreleased song, “Wings” to the album.
For a decade, this album was the only way to purchase this version of “Across The Universe” but you had to hunt down an original, as it was never re-released. In 1970, the Let It Be album featured a different mix of the song, slowed down and stripped for backing vocals and nature sounds.
The WWF version of the song eventually surfaced on “The Beatles’ Rarities” album in the late seventies and is currently available on the “Past Masters” compilation.
In 2003, another version of the song was produced for the “Let It Be…Naked” album. All three versions sound different, but feature the same basic recording.