Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 5, 1967

Recording: I Am The Walrus

Studio One, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Following the death of Brian Epstein on 27 August 1967, The Beatles regrouped at Paul McCartney's London home on 1 September 1967, where the decision was made to continue work on the Magical Mystery Tour project.

Four days later they began work on one of the soundtrack's highlights, John Lennon's surrealist masterpiece I Am The Walrus. Sixteen takes of the rhythm track were recorded during this session, which began at 7pm and ended at 1am the following morning.

Lennon played a pianet electric piano, McCartney played bass on the initial takes and later switched to tambourine, while George Harrison was on electric guitar and Ringo Starr played drums. Lennon also sang a guide vocal to help the band follow the song.

At this stage there was an extra bar prior to the "Yellow matter custard" verse, which caused the group some problems when performing. They were supposed to play a C major seventh chord during the bar as a transition back to the verse, as heard on Anthology 2, but had trouble remembering the change. The bar was eventually removed during the editing stage.

Eventually The Beatles recorded a satisfactory version - take 16 - which was given further overdubs on the following day. Take 16 featured tambourine on track one, electric guitar on track two, drums on three, and pianet on four.

Handwritten lyrics for I Am The Walrus


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 4, 1967

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi gives an audience to the Beatles and friends, on September 4, 1967.

Left to right: Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Patti Harrison, unknown, Ringo Starr, his wife Maureen, John Lennon, George Harrison and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 3, 1967

The Beatles taking a break today.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 2, 1967

Top 20 Song Chart for September 2, 1967

1. Reflections - Diana Ross & The Supremes

2. Ode To Billie Joe - Bobbie Gentry

3. All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

4. Pleasant Valley Sunday - The Monkees

5. Baby I Love You - Aretha Franklin

6. (I Wanna) Testify - The Parliaments

7. The Letter - The Box Tops

8. Come Back When You Grow Up - Bobby Vee and The Strangers

9. Heroes & Villains - The Beach Boys

10. You're My Everything - The Temptations

11. Words - The Monkees

12. Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie - Jay & The Techniques

13. A Whiter Shade Of Pale - Procol Harum

14. Funky Broadway - Wilson Pickett

15. Never My Love - The Association

16. There Is A Mountain - Donovan

17. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison

18. Cold Sweat - James Brown & The Famous Flames

19. Light My Fire - The Doors

20. I Thank The Lord For The Night Time - Neil Diamond

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 1, 1967

Paul produced his now-legendary drawing of a Magical Mystery Tour cake sliced up into segments to represent eight essential sequences for inclusion in the film. He had written key words that would prompt him when describing the proposed production to others: Commercial, Introduce Tour, Get On Coach, Courier Introduces, Recruiting, Marathon, Laboratory Sequence, Stripper & Band, End Song? ...

Paul made it clear to me that his aim was to make a feature-length film for full-scale theatrical release and he felt that a successful screen 'tour' would go a long way towards plugging the gaping hole left by the axing of the Fab Four's concert trips. Indeed, if Paul had managed to produce one successful theatrically released feature film with The Beatles each year, a far bigger potential audience would have seen the group than did in the touring years, and the profit margin for the boys would have been enormous.

When the rest arrived he delegated different Beatles to take care of each segment, encouraging them to come up with their own musical and/or comedy content for specific sequences that would last 10 or 15 minutes. He said his concept was based on the old idea of seaside coach trips, mystery tours, 'but this one will have an additional touch of fantasy because four magicians will be at work to make wonderful things happen'. Paul insisted that filming must begin the following week, by which time we'd need to have a big yellow bus organised and decorated, a supporting cast of professional actors and variety artists, the necessary cameramen and technical crew and a route for the bus to take us down to Cornwall, our West Country destination.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 31, 1967

The Beatles issue a statement on NEMS Enterprises

Four days after the death of Brian Epstein, The Beatles issued a statement about the future of his management company, NEMS Enterprises.

The group revealed that they would continue to be managed by NEMS until further notice, but that Clive Epstein, Brian's brother, would not be their personal manager. "No one could possibly replace Brian," Paul McCartney was quoted as saying.

An official press statement added:The Beatles would be willing to put money into NEMS if there was any question of a takeover from an outsider. The Beatles will not withdraw their shares from NEMS. Things will go on as before.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 30, 1967

After the 1967 death of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Paul McCartney's answer was to urge the other three members of the group to press ahead with the project that he had been dreaming up, the Magical Mystery Tour television movie. The Beatles were to script, direct, and produce the film themselves, but without Brian's guiding hand this was a recipe for disaster. Musically, they hadn't yet put a foot wrong, but when it came to dealing with the world of cinema they were simply out of their range.

"[Paul] came and showed me what his idea was, and this is how it went ... the production and everything," John Lennon recalled for Rolling Stone interviewer Jann Wenner. "He said, 'Well, here's the segment, you write a little piece for that.' And I thought ... 'I've never made a film, what's he mean, write a script!' So I ran off and wrote the dream sequence for the fat woman, and all the things with the spaghetti and all that. It was like that."

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 29, 1967

Memorial service for Brian Epstein

The Beatles didn't attend Brian Epstein's funeral in Liverpool on 29 August 1967, they did attend a memorial service later in October.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 28, 1967

Beatles Mourn Death Of Manager in London

The Beatles today mourned the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, but took solace from a mystic. Epstein, a school dropout who took the Mersey beat out of Liverpool cellars, turned it into a musical revolution and made millions along the way, was ' found dead Sunday in his , London apartment. He was 32. The long-haired quartet which 1 he molded into a household ‘ name throughout the world was 1 in Wales on a retreat with the Indian mystic Maharishi Mahesh Yogi when informed of Epstein’s death. They said their mediatation with the mystic made it easier to face Epstein’s death. AH four Beatles returned to London in hired cars within 12 hours after hearing the news. “Brian was one of us-one of the boys, you might say,’’ . said Beatle George Harrison “The news has been a sad blow to us.” Beatle John Lennon said the instruction he and the other Beatles had received from the mystic “has helped me to overcome my grief more easHy than I could have before.” Epstein was found dead in the bedroom of liis London home. His Spanish butler entered the room Sunday afternoon when he could get no response from knocking at the door and found him dead in bed. “Mr. Epstein was alone in the house last night. He appeared to be quite well,” the butler said. “A terrible and stupid accident,” said Don Black, a business associate, said after viewing the body. He would not elaborate. One of the two Scotland Yard officers summoned to the house, Commander J. Lawler, said it was “a sudden death. There will probably be a post mortem examination, but this is a matter for the coroner.” Epstein found the beatles in 1962 singing in Liverpool’s Cavern Club. They w'ere making $10.30 a night. He nurtured their image and kept them away from barbers and at the time of his death they and he were multi-millionaires. He was looked on as “the fifth Beatle” by those close to the group. Epstein always defended the Beatles in their increasingly frequent controversies. When the Beatles made news over admitting taking LSD and smoking marijuana, Epstein told an interviewer he had also been “turned on,”

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 27, 1967

Brian Epstein dies

Late on the night of Friday 25 August 1967, The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein was found dead at his home in Chapel Street, London.

Epstein had invited his assistant Peter Brown and the chief executive of NEMS, Geoffrey Ellis, to spend the bank holiday weekend at Kingsley Hill, his house in Warbleton, East Sussex. At the time The Beatles were in Bangor, north Wales, with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Epstein also asked another assistant, Joanne Newfield, to come, and to bring along a mutual friend, the Scottish singer Lulu. However, both women had prior engagements and declined Epstein's offer. Nonetheless, Epstein departed his London home in good spirits on the afternoon of 25 August, and was joined later in Sussex by Brown and Ellis.

A young man with whom Epstein hoped to become better acquainted did not show up. Epstein was disappointed at the prospect of having to spend the long public holiday with two friends he saw frequently, and following dinner - during which he drank a considerable amount - Epstein chose to drive back to London in his Bentley convertible.

Shortly after Epstein's exit, a London taxi arrived at Kingsley Hill containing four people Epstein had invited. Although surprised that the host had left, they stayed the night at the house, partying with Brown and Ellis.

After lunch on Saturday 26 August, Brown spoke to Epstein on the telephone.

He called late in the afternoon and was speaking in a woozy voice. He apologized for not coming back and maybe letting us worry. I suspect that when he went back to London he did go out, cruised the West End for a bit and then went home.

I urged him to come back to the country. But there was no way he could drive back because he sounded pretty awful, and I suggested him coming on the train. It was an unlikely thing for him to do but it was the only thing I could think of at the time.

Peter Brown
The Brian Epstein Story, Deborah Geller

Epstein's Spanish butler, Antonio, and his wife Maria, saw their employer when he returned late on the Friday, but heard nothing from him on the Saturday. By the following day they had become worried. They were unable to contact Brown and Ellis, but Antonio did speak to Joanne Newfield. She urged him not to worry, but did decide to go to Chapel Street to check in the early afternoon.

Since it was Sunday, there was no one around and it was a very quick trip across town. I got to Chapel Street, let myself in, found Antonio and went up to Brian's door and knocked on it. There were double doors leading into a dressing room and then there was a single door leading into a bedroom, so there was quite a bit of a distance between the hallway and Brian's room.

I knocked on the door and I called out his name. I called, 'Answer the door. Are you there?' And then I went up to my room and I tried the intercom, and there was no reply...

I knew I didn't want to be there on my own. Antonio and Maria couldn't speak very good English and they were a very shy couple. I needed someone nearer, that could be a support system. So I called Peter back and I told him that Dr Cowan wasn't there and Peter suggested I call his doctor, John Galway. He was there so I told him that I was concerned about Brian and asked if he could come over to the house. He would. And in the meantime I also called a few other people but I couldn't find them. Then I found Alistair [Taylor] and asked him to come to the house.

Then John Galway arrived and we went up to Brian's room, up to the outside doors. Antonio and John Galway broke the doors down. I think in the meantime I'd called Peter back and left the line hanging. Then I went up as they broke the doors down.

Antonio and John Galway were in and I followed them. Maria was staying behind. The curtains were drawn and John Galway was directly ahead of me. I could just see part of Brian in the bed and I was just totally stunned. I knew that something really bad had happened. Then I think John Galway told me, 'Just wait outside.' I stood in the doorway. A few minutes later John Galway came out. I've never seen a doctor so white. We were all white and we knew that Brian had died.

Joanne Newfield
The Brian Epstein Story, Deborah Geller

In the meantime, Brown was waiting on the telephone line. Galway informed him that Epstein had died, and Brown called David Jacobs, a lawyer and friend to Epstein who lived in Brighton. He and Ellis then left for London.

Epstein's personal assistant Alistair Taylor arrived at the house. Those who found Epstein's body were still in a state of shock, and went to the study to have a brandy. They delayed calling the police as they wanted to first make sure there were no illegal substances in the house.

Within literally very few minutes of the police being informed, there's a ring on the doorbell and it's a reporter I knew. He just looked at me and said, 'What are you doing here? I hear Brian's ill.' And I said, 'No, he's fine. He's gone out. He just called me over, actually. You know what he's like, you know, typical Brian. I've come over specially on a Sunday morning and he's gone out in the car.' Then I wondered if the garage door was closed because if the car's sitting there the reporter's going to say, 'Which car?' I was concerned that, before this news broke, somehow we had to get hold of [Epstein's mother] Queenie, and we couldn't find her.
Alistair Taylor
The Brian Epstein Story, Deborah Geller

Joanne Newfield was surprised at the reactions of Geoffrey Ellis and Peter Brown when they arrived at Chapel Street.

Peter and I were good friends, and I was really wanting him to get back. I remember the first thing I asked was why did Brian come back from Kingsley Hill? Neither of them answered. They just started to go up the stairs. And I remember thinking that they seemed weird and I knew there was something wrong.

They appeared distant when I expected them to be grief-stricken. I expected that Peter would give me a hug, but he didn't. He was just cool and I'm not sure that it was shock. I've asked myself many times what happened in Kingsley Hill. It's just one of the question marks I have about Brian's death.

Joanne Newfield
The Brian Epstein Story, Deborah Geller

An inquest found the cause of death to be accidental, resulting from 'incautious self-overdoses' of Carbrital, a drug taken to assist sleep.

I don't think there was anything sinister in his death. There were rumours of very sinister circumstances, but I personally think it was a drink-and-sleeping-pills overdose. I think what happened - and there's no evidence whatsoever except people I talk to - was that Brian was going down to his house in the country. It was a Friday night, and there were going to be friends there. Brian was gay and I think there were going to be young men at the house. Brian went down with one of his friends, but no one had showed up - so he thought: 'Ugh - it's Friday night! I've got time to get back to London if I rush. Then I can get back to the clubs.' It seems feasible to me, knowing Brian. Then he drove back up to London and went to the clubs, but they were all closing and there was not a lot of action.

So he had a few bevvies, then to console himself had a sleeping pill or two before to bed Brian always did that, he was quite into the pills. And then I think he woke up in the middle of the night and thought: My God, I can't sleep. I haven't had a pill.' Then he had a few more pills, and I think that could have killed him.

I went round a couple of days later and saw Brian's butler. He didn't seem to feel there was anything suspicious, nor that Brian was in any kind of black mood. My feeling was that it was an accident.

Paul McCartney