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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 7, 1966

A previously unreleased letter that George Harrison wrote to Atlanta DJ Paul Drew in May of 1966 reveals that the Beatles seriously contemplated recording at Stax in Memphis with producer Jim Stewart before the plan was derailed by financial issues. "We would all like it a lot," Harrison wrote by hand, "but too many people get insane with money ideas at the mention of the word 'Beatles,' and so it fell through!"

Word of the proposed Stax sessions has circulated before, but it was always said they pulled out due to security issues. It was also never known they contemplated working with Jim Stewart as opposed to George Martin, the only producer they'd ever worked with until the end of their career three years later. 

The letter, which was postmarked May 7th, 1966, was written when the Beatles were in the early stages of recording Revolver. "The album we are making now should be out around October," Harrison wrote. "But I hear Capitol will make an intermediate album with unused tracks from Rubber Soul, a few old singles and about two or three of the new tracks we have just cut…Well I am off to the studio any minute, as soon as John and Ringo arrive." That "intermediate" album would eventually be released as Yesterday and Today.

"The general assessment is that Capitol did pretty much whatever they wanted with Beatles records," Gold says. "To see that George had a very specific understanding of what Yesterday and Today was going to be before it came out was kind of a revelation too. It surprised me."


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 6, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Recording for I'm Only Sleeping concluded on this day, with the addition of vocals by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

The day began with the creation of two reduction mixes, the second of which was preferred, to combine the previous day's backwards guitar solos onto one track of the four-track tape.

Onto track four Lennon double-tracked his lead vocals in places (the main lead part had been added on April 29, 1966), while McCartney and Harrison simultaneously performed harmonies.

I'm Only Sleeping was mixed in mono on 12 May and 6 June, and in stereo on 20 May and 21 June.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 5, 1966

Studio Three, EMI Studios, London

A 9:30 PM to 3:00 AM session in Studio Three of Abbey Road. Typically, when The Beatles decided to record a backwards guitar solo onto Take 11 of I'm Only Sleeping, they chose to do it the hard way. They figured out a pleasing sequence of notes and played them in reverse so that the solo would sound backwards, but still have the same melodic sound of a forwards-running tape. George Harrison spent this whole session recording not only one backwards guitar solo overdub, but another backwards solo to have the two superimposed on top of each other.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 4, 1966

The Beatles are given permission to perform in Japan.

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 3, 1966

Pattie posing at a press conference at the London Waldorf Hotel to launch the new blanket, Nightlong Bliss, by Morphy Richards.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 2, 1966

Playhouse Theatre, London

The Beatles gave two sets of interviews for BBC radio programs on this day, at the Playhouse Theatre in London.

The first was for the 400th edition of Saturday Club. The Beatles discussed their work so far on the as-yet-untitled Revolver, along with the forthcoming US tour and their lower public profile in 1966. The interviewer was Brian Matthew.

Afterwards Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr remained behind to be interviewed again by Matthew for Pop Profile, a show for the BBC Transcription Service to be syndicated overseas. John Lennon and George Harrison had made a similar appearance on November 30, 1965.

The pair were interviewed separately. Starr's was recorded from 5pm, and McCartney's from 5.30pm, both lasting 15 minutes but later edited down to eight. The interviews were posted to participating stations worldwide later in May 1966 on 7" vinyl discs.

The 400th edition of Saturday Club, meanwhile, was broadcast from 10am-midday on 4 June on the BBC Light Programme service.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 1, 1966

Empire Pool, Wembley

A fourth and final appearance at the New Musical Express Annual Pool-Winner's All Star Concert, this time the 1965-66 version, performed before an audience of 10,000 during this Sunday afternoon. It was also the Beatles' last live concert in Britain, a short set in which they delivered "I Feel Fine", "Nowhere Man", "Day Tripper", "If I Needed Someone" and "I'm Down".

The group were on a bill which also included The Spencer Davis Group, The Fortunes, Herman's Hermits, Roy Orbison, The Overlanders, The Alan Price Set, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, The Rolling Stones, The Seekers, The Small Faces, Sounds Incorporated, Dusty Springfield, Crispian St Peters, The Walker Brothers, The Who, The Yardbirds and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The comperes were Peter Murray and Jimmy Savile.

Although ABC TV was filming the concert, Brian Epstein failed to reach an agreement over terms, so the cameras were turned off while The Beatles performed. The group were, however, filmed receiving their poll awards.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 30, 1966

APRIL 30, 1966 KRLA BEAT MAGAZINE

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: April 29, 1966

Studio Three, EMI Studios, London

Vocal overdubbing onto "Eleanor Rigby" was the main task today in this 5:00pm to 1:00am session, after which the recording was considered complete and mixed into mono. (A further overdub on June 6th rendered this mix redundant, though, and a new one was made on June 22nd for inclusion on the LP)

Following this work, John added his lead vocal onto the previously recorded "I'm Only Sleeping", the first of three overdub sessions for the song.

 

 

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.