Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 28, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

The first session for Paul McCartney's most famous and best-loved songs, Elanor Rigby, took place on this day, with the recording of the string octet backing.

The session was a short one, beginning at 5pm and finishing at 7.50pm. A string octet had been booked, featuring four violins (played by Tony Gilbert, Sidney Sax, John Sharpe and Jurgen Hess), two violas (Stephen Shingles and John Underwood), and two cellos (Derek Simpson and Norman Jones).

The performers were each given a standard Musicians' Union fee of £9 for their work, and performed a score written by George Martin. Two brief rehearsals took place, with and without vibrato, and the musicians opted to play without.

Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney were present at the studio, but remained in the control room of Studio Two. George Martin was on the studio floor conducting the musicians.

The strings were recorded with a close microphone technique, giving them a timbre different from anything that had previously been heard.

Fourteen takes of the strings backing were recorded, the last of which was the best. The instruments were recorded two per track, and a reduction mix - numbered take 15 - was made at the end of the session to free up three further tracks.

A new mix of the instrumental backing was made in 1995 for the Anthology 2 collection, presenting the strings in full stereo for the first time.

The picture below is from the graveyard next to the church where Paul and John met. However, Paul said in later interviews that the line in the song had nothing to do with the grave that he could remember, but maybe subconsciously he did.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 27, 1966

Studio Three, EMI Studios, London

The Beatles were not only attending mix sessions, but also to make presence felt is clear from this day's studio documentation. One mix of "Taxman", one of "And Your Bird Can Sing" and nine of "Tomorrow Never Knows" was produced between 6:00 and 11:30 pm, yet none was used for the finished album.

Between 11:30 and 3:00 am, the Beatles started work on a new song, John's dreamy "I'm Only Sleeping", taping 11 takes of a mostly acoustic basic track. Overdubs were added on April 29th and May 5th and 6th.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 26, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Booked for 2:30-5:30 and 7:00-10:00 pm, the Beatles got thoroughly stuck into this day's re-make of John's "And Your Bird Can Sing", working uninterrupted from 2:30 pm until 2:45 the following morning. They recorded 11 more takes of the song's rhythm track and overdubbed onto what they considered to have been the "best" of these, take ten.

(An interesting blend of lead guitar vamping and Paul's bass guitar notes ended the song, and the best version of this section came in take six, so future mixes combined the two elements.)


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 25, 1966

Two rough mono mixes of "Got To Get You Into My Life", without echo or the Beatles' attendance, were made this day at EMI, 10:00-11:00 am, for the purpose of cutting acetates.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 24, 1966

Another day off recording at the studio

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 23, 1966

The Beatles decided to take a break today. After all, it's the weekend.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 22, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

A 2:30-11:30 pm session at Abbey Road which resulted in more overdubs onto "Taxman", a cowbell and the "Mister Wilson, Mister Heath" parts, and also a sitar and vocal over-dub onto "Tomorrow Never Knows", still titled "Mark I" at this time.

Also, Brian Epstein Automobiles Limited changes name to Brydor Cars Limited.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 21, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

George's wonderfully sardonic "Taxman" was virtually completed during a 2:30 pm-12:50 am session, in which the Beatles recorded 11 takes of the rhythm track and then set about overdubbing onto the last of these.

By the end, the song lacked only the final session's spoken count-in, the "Mister Wilson, Mister Health" regrain which extended the fame of Britain's two most prominent politicians right around the world, a cowbell and the distinctive guitar solo outro. (This solo was in fact a copy of the middle-eight piece, edited onto the end of the the song during the final mono and stero mix on June, 21st).


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 20, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Two new songs were begun in this 2:30pm to 2:30 am session, although both would be re-made for record release. The lion's share of the 12 hours was devoted to John's "And Your Bird Can Sing", taping two takes and then, considering it complete, producing mono mixes of the "best", take two. However, a re-make was recorded on April 26th.

Four rehearsal rhythm track takes of George's "Taxman" were taped towards the end of the session but recording started fresh the next day.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 19, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

"Doctor Robert" was completed with vocal overdubs onto take seven and, at the end of the 2:30-12:00 pm session, rough mono mixes.