When was it recorded? Jul. 19 & 24, Aug. 13 & 21, 1968
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 22, 1968 on “The Beatles”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
So while (half of) the Beatles were in India studying under the Maharishi, John’s friend Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas also visited. According to the Beatles Bible, “Mardas had previously been known as Lennon’s ‘guru’, and was reportedly alarmed at seeing his influence upon Lennon waning. He is said to have started a rumor that the Maharishi had made a sexual advance towards one of the women on the meditation course.”
“Alexis and a fellow female meditator began to sow the seeds of doubt into very open minds… Alexis’s statements about how the Maharishi had been indiscreet with a certain lady, and what a blackguard he had turned out to be gathered momentum. All, may I say, without a single shred of evidence or justification. It was obvious to me that Alexis wanted out and more than anything he wanted The Beatles out as well.” — Cynthia Lennon
Quoth the Beatles Bible, “Regardless of its veracity, the rumor gave Lennon an excuse to leave India. As he waited to leave, he began writing the song that would become ‘Sexy Sadie.’”
“John had a song he had started to write which he was singing: ‘Maharishi, what have you done?’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, it’s ridiculous.’ I came up with the title of Sexy Sadie and John changed ‘Maharishi’ to ‘Sexy Sadie’.” — George Harrison (Anthology)
Lines of “Sexy Sadie” bear a resemblance to the opening of The Miracles’ 1961 song “I’ve Been Good To You,” which John mentioned admiring in a 1968 interview.
According to the Beatles Bible, “Although it was originally titled ‘Maharishi,’ it was never recorded as that.” Like most White Album songs, the Beatles recorded an Esher demo of “Sexy Sadie.”
The Beatles began recording “Sexy Sadie” Jul. 19, 1968. Quoth the Beatles Bible, “The Beatles spent much of the session jamming and rehearsing Sexy Sadie, but eventually taped 21 takes of the song. According to Lewisohn, these varied between 5:36 and 8:00.” Take Six later appeared on “Anthology 3.”
On Jul. 24, the Beatles taped 23 more takes of “Sexy Sadie” but scrapped them. They tried again on Aug. 13, recording eight takes. The final final take was used for overdubs completed on Aug. 21.