Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 30, 1966

The Beatles' unprecedented sonic experimentation on their 1966 album Revolver make it one rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest albums. But ironically, one of the album’s greatest innovations happened on a B-side that came out before the final album.

Backward guitar and sitar solos appear throughout Revolver, which is credited as the first popularized use of “backmasking”, the intentional recording of a track in reverse. But songs like “Love You To” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” were not the first songs the band recorded backward.

The real birth of the Beatles’ backmasking came in the form of John Lennon's reversed vocals during the outro of “Rain”, the B-side to lead single “Paperback Writer” that came out in the U.S. on May 30, 1966.

It was not the first time anyone had tried recording backwards – it had been available since the early days of Edison’s phonograph and avant-garde composers experimented with it as early as the 1950s. But the Beatles are universally credited with bringing the technique to the mainstream.

And, like so many other musical miracles, it happened by accident.



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 29, 1966

The Beatles enjoying a small break.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 28, 1966

The Beatles spend time with Bob Dylan in his room at the Mayfair Hotel in London.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 27, 1966

The Beatles were all fans of Bob Dylan, whom they had first met in August 1964. They met him again the following year, and once more on this day during his tour of the United Kingdom.

In 1965 Dylan divided audiences by moving from his folk roots and adopting electric instruments. On this tour he was backed by The Band, and on 26 and 27 May 1966 was scheduled to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The occasion was a fractious one, with audience members jeering and protesting at his new direction.

Dylan invited The Beatles to his shows, and John Lennon and George Harrison attended the second Royal Albert Hall show. Furthermore, all four Beatles spent time with Dylan in London nightclubs and at his hotel.

Following his 26 May concert, Dylan visited Kenwood, Lennon's home in Weybridge. The following day the pair were filmed being driven to the May Fair Hotel in Stratton Street, London, where Dylan was staying.

Present in the limousine was director DA Pennebaker, who had been hired to make a documentary on Dylan's UK tour, and sound operator Bobby Neuwirth. The footage, titled Eat The Document, was later shelved after the US TV network ABC, which had funded the shoot, rejected a rough cut.

Two 10-minute film reels were filled during the journey to London. Lennon and Dylan were evidently recovering from the after effects of drug taking, and both wore sunglasses and smoked cigarettes. In the first reel the pair discussed contemporary musical acts, including the Mamas and the Papas, Barry McGuire, The Silkie and Johnny Cash.

At the beginning of the second reel Dylan is seen complaining of illness, and is pictured leaning forward with his head in his hands. He tells the driver, Tom Keylock, to hurry to the hotel as he may be sick. Pennebaker later revealed that he and Lennon had to help Dylan to his hotel room upon their arrival.

In the final cut of Eat The Document, only a few minutes of the footage was included. The film was screened at the New York Academy of Music on 8 February 1971, and again in 1998, but has rarely been seen since.

An alternative edit, titled You Know Something Is Happening, was made by Pennebaker for private use. This contained more footage of the limousine encounter, but also remains unreleased. Footage from the journey has long circulated among bootleg collectors, however.

Following the evening concert, Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Aspinall and The Rolling Stones all visited Dolly's nightclub on Jermyn Street, London.

Source: Beatles Bible

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 26, 1966

Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road

The backing track for Paul McCartney's children's song Yellow Submarine was recorded on this day, along with lead and backing vocals.

 George Martin was ill with food poisoning, so the session went ahead without a producer. Martin did, however, send his fiancée Judy Lockhart-Smith to the session; she remained mostly in the Studio Three control room.

The Beatles began the session, which started at 7am and finished at 1am the following morning, by filling two tape reels with rehearsals of the song. Most of these were later wiped, however.

Four takes of the rhythm track were then recorded onto two tracks of the tape. John Lennon used his Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar, McCartney played bass guitar, George Harrison was on tambourine and Starr played drums.

The fourth track was judged to be the best, and onto this Starr overdubbed his lead vocals, joined by the others in the chorus. A fourth track was filled with additional vocals.

Source: Beatles Bible



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 25, 1966

The Beatles - enjoying a short break

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 24, 1966

Nothing much going on today

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 23, 1966

Paperback Writer was released.

Here is what Paul McCartney says about writing Paperback Writer:

“I arrived at [John Lennon’s house in] Weybridge and told John I had this idea of trying to write off to a publishers to become a paperback writer, and I said, ‘I think it should be written like a letter.’ I took a bit of paper out and I said it should be something like, ‘Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be…’ and I proceeded to write it just like a letter in front of him, occasionally rhyming it … And then we went upstairs and put the melody to it. John and I sat down and finished it all up, but it was tilted towards me — the original idea was mine. I had no music, but it’s just a little bluesy song, not a lot of melody. Then I had the idea to do the harmonies, and we arranged that in the studio”.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 22, 1966

Monte Carlo

May 22, 1966 - George and Pattie at the opening day of the Monaco Grand Prix watching the Formula One races along the streets in Monte Carlo. British driver Jackie Stewart won the first Formula One race of the 1966 season.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 21, 1966

Portobello Road

May 21, 1966 - After an all night party Chrissie Shrimpton and Mick Jagger joined John & Cynthia Lennon on an early morning stroll down London’s trendy Portobello Road.