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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 16, 1967

Joe Orton begins writing a script for The Beatles’ third film

In 1967 English playwright Joe Orton was asked by producer Walter Shenson to write a script for The Beatles' third film.

Shenson, producer of the films A Hard Day's Night and Help!, asked Orton to rework a draft script written by a now-unknown writer. In Orton's diary entry for January 12, 1967 he noted that Shenson had called Orton's agent and said that he had a script. Although Shenson considered it to be "dull", he asked if Orton might take a look. Orton agreed, and had read it by 15 January when he wrote:

Like the idea. Basically it is that there aren't four young men. Just four aspects of one man. Sounds dreary, but as I thought about it I realised what wonderful opportunities it would give.

Diary of Joe Orton

Orton met Shenson on January 16, and began writing what would become Up Against It. He also met Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein on January 24th. A contract was drawn up, which allowed Orton to buy back the script rights if it were rejected.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 15, 1967

McCartney and Harrison watch Donovan in London

Paul McCartney and George Harrison watched Donovan performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London on this day.

Donovan was a friend to The Beatles, particularly McCartney. He had been present during the writing of Yellow Submarine and Eleanor Rigby, and had suggested the line "Sky of blue and sea of green". In 1968 he studied Transcendental Meditation alongside The Beatles in India.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 14, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 13, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 12, 1967

Recording, mixing: Penny Lane

Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road

This session, which began at 2.30pm and ended at 11pm, saw the second set of session musicians record contributions to Penny Lane, following the January 9, 1967 addition of flutes of trumpets.

On this day seven instruments were recorded: two trumpets, played by Bert Courtley and Duncan Campbell; two oboes, played by Dick Morgan and Mike Winfield, who also both added cor anglais parts; and a double bass played by Frank Clarke.

The cor anglais were used during the instrumental passage, but went unused in the final mix. They can be heard on Anthology 2. The double bass, meanwhile, played just a three-second passage of descending notes as the banker sits waiting for a trim.

The Beatles considered Penny Lane to be complete at this stage, and two mono mixes were created at the end of the session. However, on 17 January the piccolo trumpet solo was added, rendering the mixes unnecessary.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 11, 1967

McCartney and Starr watch Jimi Hendrix in London

On this evening Paul McCartney saw trumpet player David Mason performing Bach's Brandenburg Concerto Number 2 in F Major with the English Chamber Orchestra from Guildford Cathedral, on the the BBC 2 television series Masterworks. Impressed with what he heard, McCartney decided to use him for the final overdub on Penny Lane.

Mason was telephoned the following day by George Martin, and booked for a studio session on January 17, 1967. There, he added the famous piccolo trumpet solo.

In the evening McCartney and Ringo Starr saw Jimi Hendrix perform for the first time, at one of Hendrix's regular shows at the Bag O'Nails club in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 10, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Sound effects experiments for "Penny Lane" work with scat harmonies and a hand-bell overdubbed onto take nine during this 7:00 pm to 1:40 am session.

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 9, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Penny Lane over-dubbing of four flutes and two trumpets and - with three of the six musicians playing second instruments, two piccolos and a flugelhorn. The four flautists were Ray Swinfield, P Goody, Manny Winters and Dennis Walton and the trumpeters were Leon Calvert and Freddy Clayton. At the same time, unbeknown to all, John was taping the musicians' between-takes conversations for his private collection. Two more rough mono mixes were made before the 7:00 pm-1:45 am session ended.

 

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicles - Mark Lewisohn

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 8, 1967

The Beatles still in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 7, 1967

The Beatles are taking a break from recording at EMI Studios