The Story Behind The Beatles Awkward First Recording Session at Abbey Road

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Beatles and Abbey Road Studios are deeply connected. So much so that the studio was initially EMI Studios but changed its name after Abbey Road was a hit album. However, the fab four did not make a great first impression during their initial recording session at Abbey Road.

The Beatles’ first recording session at Abbey Road Studios occurred on June 6, 1962. While the band gained a small following in the U.K., they had not yet secured a recording contract. At the time, The Beatles consisted of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and drummer Pete Best, as Ringo Starr hadn’t joined yet.

In a 2008 interview with Sound on Sound, engineer Norman Smith, who recorded The Beatles’ first six albums, recalled their first session. He said they did not make a “very good first impression,” mainly because their equipment made it nearly impossible to get any clean sound for a song.
“We heard nothing of John and Paul’s songwriting ability,” Smith said. “They had tiny little Vox amplifiers and speakers, which didn’t create much of a sound at source. I got nothing out of the Beatles’ equipment except for a load of noise, hum, and goodness knows what. Paul’s was about the worst — in those days, we had echo chambers to add onto the reverberation, and I had to raid the Studio 2 echo chamber in order to fix him up with a sound so that we could get something down on tape.”

Source: Ross Tanenbaum/


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