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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 5, 1967

Paul McCartney visits Jane Asher in Denver

Paul McCartney flew to Denver from San Francisco on this day to pay a surprise visit to his girlfriend Jane Asher on her 21st birthday.

Asher was touring with the Old Vic theatre company in a production of William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. McCartney had flown to America on April 3, 1967 with Mal Evans.

McCartney and Evans flew from San Francisco in a hired Lear jet; they arrived at Denver Airport and were met by Bert Rosenthal, who had agreed to lend McCartney and Asher his house. Evans, meanwhile, booked into the Driftwood Motel.

In the evening McCartney and Asher were reunited, and Rosenthal drove them to a hotel where a birthday party was held for her. The party had been organized by the Old Vic.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 4, 1967

Paul McCartney flies to San Francisco

The day after his arrival in the United States, Paul McCartney spent the day in San Francisco.

He and Mal Evans had flown into the city from Los Angeles in the early hours of the morning. The city was experiencing its first snow for 42 years, and the temperatures were much colder than the pair had been expecting.

The trip was to surprise McCartney's girlfriend Jane Asher on her 21st birthday the following day. With a free day McCartney and Evans saw the sights, photographed the Golden Gate Bridge and bought records.

They also visited the Fillmore Auditorium, where Jefferson Airplane were rehearsing. Afterwards they accompanied Marty Balin and Jack Casady to the Oak Street apartment they shared with the band's road manager Bill Thompson, where McCartney played them an acetate of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. They also attempted a jam, but McCartney had trouble playing Casady's right-handed bass guitar.

McCartney smoked cannabis with Jefferson Airplane, but declined an offer of DMT mixed with cannabis. Despite this, rumours persist in the city that he did partake in the hallucinogenic drug. At the end of the evening Jack Casady took them back to their hotel.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 3, 1967

Recording, mixing: Within You Without You

The last song to be completed for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was Within You Without You.

Eight violins and three cellos were recorded onto track three, after which Harrison - the only member of The Beatles in attendance - overdubbed his lead vocals, as well as some extra sitar, onto track four. The recording took place in Studio One, and ended at 3am the following morning.

The violinists were Erich Gruenberg, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein and Jack Greene, and the cellists were Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford and Peter Beavan. Each was paid the standard Musicians' Union rate of £9, apart from Gruenberg, the leader of the ensemble, who was paid £11.

The strings were conducted by George Martin, who had prepared a score based on Harrison's ideas. The parts were recorded numerous times, each wiping the previous attempt, before all were satisfied with the results.

When Within You Without You was first recorded on March 15, 1967, the song was referred to as having three parts, although it was recorded as one. The numbering of the parts continued through to this session and the next, with part one mixed separately from two and three.

Mono mixing of Within You Without You began during this session, but the results remained unused. Part one was mixed three times; parts two and three were mixed twice.

The mixing session took place in the control room of Studio Two, from 3-6.30am in the morning of April 4, 1967.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 2, 1967

The Beatles are in-between recording

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 1, 1967

Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

Studio One, EMI Studios, Abbey Road

The final song to be begun for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was a reprise of the title track. It was recorded in a single session on this day.

The session took place at EMI's enormous Studio One at Abbey Road, between 7pm and 6am the following morning. Nine takes were recorded; an unused attempt, take five, was included on 1996's Anthology 2.

Each member of The Beatles playing their conventional instruments, as a group, for perhaps the only occasion on the album. Paul McCartney sang a guide vocal part, and George Martin joined them on organ.

McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison overdubbed vocals onto track three of take nine, and maracas and tambourine were added to track four.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) was the only Sgt Pepper song not to be given a reduction mix; the four tracks were filled with the initial instruments, the overdubs were added, then it was ready to be mixed for the album.

Nine mono mixes of take nine were made during this session, the last of which was used on the album. Artificial double tracking was applied to the vocals, and some of the crowd noises prepared on March 6, 1967 were added.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 31, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, in London

"With A Little Help From My Friend" and "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!" were mixed into mono during this 7:00 pm - 3:00 am session, the latter only after overdubbing of another organ part and a glockenspiel.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 30, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, in London

Before the 11:00 pm to 7:30 am session. the Beatles went to Chelsea Manor studios in Flood Street, Chelsea, to pose for the splendid Michael Cooper shots which would adorn Peter Blakes sleeve design, and also the inside gatefold display, of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A trend-setting photo session indeed.

On reaching EMI, the group settled straight back into "With A Little Help From My Friends", completing the recording by overdubbing guitars, bass, tambourine and backing vocals.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 29, 1967

Recording: Good Morning Good Morning, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!

With A Little Help From My Friends

The sound effects for Good Morning Good Morning, assembled on the previous day, were added to the song during this session.

The effects were dubbed onto the vocal track of the tape. After this the song was complete, and it was mixed in mono and stereo on April 6, 1967.

Another set of sound effects, for Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!, had been created on February 20th. During this session they were added to track three. The song was completed with additional organ and glockenspiel on March 31st.

The Beatles began a new song on this evening. With A Little Help From My Friends was written for Ringo Starr to sing, and was known during this session only as Bad Finger Boogie.

From the beginning it was intended that the song would segue from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band title track, and recording began with the "Billy Shears" line.

The Beatles began by recording the rhythm track in 10 takes, the last of which was the best. It had Paul McCartney on piano on track one, George Harrison's rhythm guitar on two, Starr's drums and cowbell played by John Lennon on three, and George Martin playing organ on track four.

A reduction mix, numbered take 11, made free some space on the tape for further overdubs. Starr then added his lead vocals to tracks three and four, with backing vocals by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. This session ended at 5.45am, and recording for the song was completed on the following day.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 28, 1967

Recording: Good Morning Good Morning, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!

John Lennon recorded a second lead vocal for Good Morning Good Morning on this evening, following a first attempt on February 16, 1967. Lennon harmonized with himself during parts of the song.

A second reduction mix combined the two vocal tracks and created space for further overdubs. Backing vocals, by Lennon and Paul McCartney, were the first to be added, and included the song's title being sung in German at one point. Also taped was a guitar solo, played by McCartney.

Lennon had decided to adorn the song with an array of animal sounds. He wished for it to begin with a rooster's crow, and to end with a range of different creatures. The order of these was carefully considered.

John said to me during one of the breaks that he wanted to have the sound of animals escaping and that each successive animal should be capable of frightening or devouring its predecessor! So those are not just random effects, there was actually a lot of thought put into all that.
Geoff Emerick
 
The effects begin with birds twittering, followed by a miaowing cat, dogs barking, horses neighing, sheep bleating, tigers roaring, an elephant trumpeting, a fox being chased by a hunt - with some sheep and cows added - a pig grunting and a hen clucking.

The effects were taken from the Abbey Road tape library. Volume 57: Fox-hunt was used for the chase, and all others were taken from the curiously-titled Volume 35: Animals and Bees. The sequences were assembled on this and the following day.

This particular session ended at 4.45am. Before it did, however, another Sgt Pepper song - Being For the Benefit Of Mr. Kite! - received further overdubs. These all went on to the vacant third track of the four-track tape.

For the first half of the song, John Lennon played organ while George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans played harmonicas, and George Martin played a Mellotron.

During the waltz in the middle, a tambourine was added, Paul McCartney played a guitar, Lennon added an organ part, and George Martin added a second organ part of descending notes. These were taped with the machine running at half speed, making them sound much higher and faster upon playback.

Work on Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! continued on March 29th and March 31st 1967.

Source: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 27, 1967

The Beatles are taking a small break from recording today