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Beatles 50th Blog posts of '2020' 'February'

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: April 2, 1970

Today was the final day’s work on The Beatles’ last album Let It Be. It was a stereo mixing and edit session for three songs.

Phil Spector worked in room four of EMI Studios, with balance engineer Peter Bown and tape operator Roger Ferris. The three songs worked on were The Long And Winding Road, Across The Universe and I Me Mine.

Some further work was also required on the latter two tracks. Spector edited then slowed Across The Universe, changing the key from D to C#, and combined two stereo mixes of The Long And Winding Road – the edit can be heard at 1’26”.

After the session acetates of the completed album were sent to each of The Beatles for approval. Although he later expressed bitter resentment at Spector’s work, Paul McCartney is said to have initially been happy with the treatment of the recordings.

 

 

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: April 1, 1970

Today’s recording was significant for one other reason: it was the final recording session to feature a member of The Beatles; at least, until the Anthology recordings of the 1990s. Ringo Starr was the only Beatle to participate on this day, playing drums on each of the three songs alongside the orchestra.

The musical scores for The Long And Winding Road were arranged and conducted by Richard Hewson, while Across The Universe was done by Brian Rogers. John Barham scored the vocals for The Long And Winding Road and Across The Universe.

In addition to Ringo Starr, there were 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, one harp, three trumpets, three trombones, two guitarists and 14 singers. In all there were 50 musicians in Abbey Road’s studio one, which cost EMI a sum total of £1,126 and five shillings.

The Long And Winding Road originally had Paul McCartney’s lead vocals and piano on separate tracks, John Lennon’s bass guitar, George Harrison’s guitar, Billy Preston’s electric piano, two tracks for Starr’s drums, and a spare track for backing vocals.

Phil Spector reduced these seven tracks to five by combining one of the drum tracks with Lennon’s bass guitar, and Harrison’s and Preston’s instruments on another. Although it has been reported that he erased part of McCartney’s vocals, this did not happen, although he did omit a half-spoken section from the final mix.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 31, 1970

John Lennon and George Harrison wrote a letter to Paul.......

Dear Paul, We thought a lot about yours and the Beatles LPs – and decided it’s stupid for Apple to put out two big albums within 7 days of each other (also there’s Ringo’s and Hey Jude) – so we sent a letter to EMI telling them to hold your release date til June 4th (there’s a big Apple-Capitol convention in Hawaii then). We thought you’d come round when you realized that the Beatles album was coming out on April 24th. We’re sorry it turned out like this – it’s nothing personal. Love John & George. Hare Krishna. A Mantra a Day Keeps MAYA! Away.

The letter was sealed in an envelope marked “From Us, To You”, and left at Apple’s reception for a messenger to deliver to McCartney’s home at 7 Cavendish Avenue. However, Starr agreed to take it round in person. “I didn’t think it fair some office lad should take something like that round,” he reasoned.

By this time McCartney had long tired of arguing over Apple’s future, and the various parties were more likely to communicate by letter or through their managers rather than face-to-face interviews. McCartney had recorded his album in secret, under the pseudonym Billy Martin, choosing to keep the news from the press and his former bandmates for as long as possible.

McCartney might once have agreed with the logic behind the decision to postpone his album, but after months of acrimony he was in no mood for conciliatory agreements. The contents of the letter left him furious, and Starr received the full brunt of his anger.

Paul McCartney - "Ringo came to see me. He was sent, I believe – being mild mannered, the nice guy – by the others, because of the dispute. So Ringo arrived at the house, and I must say I gave him a bit of verbal. I said: ‘You guys are just messing me around.’ He said: ‘No, well, on behalf of the board and on behalf of The Beatles and so and so, we think you should do this,’ etc. And I was just fed up with that. It was the only time I ever told anyone to GET OUT! It was fairly hostile. But things had got like that by this time. It hadn’t actually come to blows, but it was near enough.

Unfortunately it was Ringo. I mean, he was probably the least to blame of any of them, but he was the fall guy who got sent round to ask me to change the date – and he probably thought: ‘Well, Paul will do it,’ but he met a different character, because now I was definitely boycotting Apple."

Starr described the situation in an affidavit read out in court during the 1971 hearings to end the Beatles partnership.

I went to see Paul. To my dismay, he went completely out of control, shouting at me, prodding his fingers towards my face, saying: ‘I’ll finish you now’ and ‘You’ll pay.’ He told me to put my coat on and get out. I did so.

Starr was immensely upset by the exchange, and reported back to Apple. Lennon and Harrison agreed to let McCartney’s album come out as planned, and delayed the release of Let It Be. While McCartney had scored a superficial victory, his relations with the drummer took a number of years to fully recover.

They eventually sent Ringo round to my house at Cavendish with a message: ‘We want you to put your release date back, it’s for the good of the group’ and all of this sort of shit, and he was giving me the party line, they just made him come round, so I did something I’d never done before, or since: I told him to get out. I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking. Linda was very helpful, she was saying, ‘Look, you don’t have to take this crap, you’re a grown man, you have every bit as much right…’ I was getting pummelled about the head, in my mind anyway.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The McCartney album was issued in the UK on 17 April 1970, while Let It Be was eventually released on 8 May. On 10 April a press release for the solo album caused a sensation by seemingly confirming that The Beatles had finally split up.

The world reaction was like ‘The Beatles Have Broken Up – It’s Official’ – we’d known it for months. So that was that, really. I think it was the press who misunderstood. The record had come with this weird explanation on a questionnaire of what I was doing. It was actually only for them. I think a few people thought it was some weird move of me to get publicity, but it was really to avoid having to do the press.

Paul McCartney
Anthology

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 30, 1970

Phil Spector spent most of the day working on an idea which was never used: a 16-second tape loop using part of the instrumental break from George Harrison’s For You Blue.  He overlaid snatches of dialogue from members of the public recording during The Beatles’ rooftop performance.

Several of these vox pops were used in the Let It Be film. In the end, however, Spector rejected the idea for the Let It Be album. Indeed, only one brief piece of dialogue from the entire film soundtrack reels made it onto the LP: John Lennon introducing For You Blue with the words “Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members”.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 29, 1970

John Lennon sends a phone message that is broadcast to a gathering of 8,000 demonstrators at Victoria Park, Bethel Green, East London. The demonstration is being held to advocate nuclear disarmament. During the message, John reveals that Yoko is again pregnant, the baby being expected in October (but she will miscarry again later in the year).

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 28, 1970

Back on this date in 1965.....

Alpha Television Studios, Aston, Birmingham

Taping of the Beatles' final personal appearance on ABC Television's weekly pop series Thank Your Lucky Stars, the show which had launched them on national TV in January 1963 but which was now in steady decline. (It ended on June 25, 1966, by which time it was no longer screened by all of the ITV regions.)

On this occasion, while it was still fully networked, the Beatles returned to the scene of that debut, Alpha Television Studios in Birmingham, and mimed performances of three songs, "Eight Days A Week", "Yes It Is" and "Ticket To Ride", before an extremely entusiastic studio audience. Paul and Ringo were also interviewed by the show's host, Brian Matthew, and the program was broadcast on Saturday, April 3rd, (5:50-6:35 pm)

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 27, 1970

This was the fourth day for Phil Spector’s working on Dig It and assembling snippets of dialogue to be used in between songs.

Two versions of Dig It – a largely improvised song let by John Lennon – were recorded, on January 24 and 26th, a year before in 1969. A segment lasting just 49 seconds was extracted from the second of these.

A slightly longer version appearing in the Let It Be film. The full version, however, lasted for more than 12 minutes and featured Billy Preston on organ and George Martin on shaker. The brief section used by Spector was from 8’52” to 9’41”.

After he had finished work on Dig It, Spector trawled through the Apple Studios tapes for dialogue to intersperse between the songs. One of these, Lennon saying “That was ‘Can You Dig It’ by Georgie Wood…”, was appended to the end of Dig It, and provided an apt introduction to Let It Be.

Although eight snippets of dialogue were mixed on this day, only two others were used: “I Dig A Pygmy by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids…”, which began the album ahead of Two Of Us; and the “Thanks Mo”/”I hope we passed the audition” remarks, giving the effect that that the version of Get Back used was from the rooftop performance rather than the studio.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 26, 1970

On this date, producer Phil Spector—called in to save the Get Back/LIB project—remixed "Let It Be," adding his signature orchestra and choir. He used the more rocking January 4 solo instead, and also added an extra chorus at the end. This would become known as the "album version" of the song.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 25, 1970

Today was Phil Spector’s second day of creating stereo mixes from the Let It Be tapes involved work on three songs.

Although best known for his echo-laden Wall of Sound production techniques, Spector was positively restrained during this session. The first song to be mixed was George Harrison’s For You Blue. This was done in a single take, although Spector then made seven further attempts at remixing the intro; the two parts were later edited together.

Also on this date, Ringo Starr is interviewed for the BBC’s Scene And Heard on Savile Row, London.

The first edition’s interview began with Starr discussing “the soul brother” John Lennon, whose fearlessness the drummer expressed admiration for. “He could jump off the Eiffel Tower and I’d approve it,” Starr said.

Wigg asked if The Beatles’ wives had much influence over their husbands’ activities. “Some of them have more than others,” Starr replied. He described Maureen Starkey’s main strength as looking out for the group’s British fans, an example of which was her pressing for the proposed January 1969 concert to be held in England rather than abroad.

Starr spoke of his interest in developing an acting career, saying that he had already made a name as a comic actor. He also spoke of his debut album Sentimental Journey, and of the dancing in the promotional film for the title track.

On the subject of the rumours of The Beatles’ split, Starr claimed the group was as united as ever, and blamed the music press for generating controversy.

The 5 April edition focused on Sentimental Journey, with Starr describing the circumstances surrounding the recording and praising the timeless nature of the songs. He explained why different arrangers were used to introduce variety into the project, and said he was considering the title track and Whispering Grass for future single releases. The latter song was played at the end of the interview.

Wigg continued interviewing the former Beatles into their solo careers, with the last of his interviews taking place in December 1973. An album containing extracts from his recorded interviews was released in the United Kingdom in January 1976, and two years later in the United States.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: March 24, 1970

Back on this date in 1965......

Twickenham Film Studios, St. Margaret's, Twickenham

At last, shooting began on home territory, Twickenham Film Studios in the west of London suburb of St. Margaret's, where A Hard Day's Night had been shot at the same time in 1964. Working a similar schedule - something like 8:30 am - 5:30 pm daily, the Beatles filmed here and on location until Sunday, May 9th. Including the Bahamanian and Austrian sections, but discounting occasional days off, this second Beatles film was shot in 11 weeks, three more than A Hard Day's Night.