Paul McCartney and John Lennon listen to the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”

Thursday, May 19, 1966
Timeline More from year 1966
Waldorf Astoria Hotel, London, UK

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Brian Johnson, a member of The Beach Boys, visited London from May 16 to 21 to promote the band’s new album “Pet Sounds,” which had just been released in the US. During his trip, he met Keith Moon from The Who and together, they went to the Scotch of St. James club where Johnson was introduced to John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

On May 19, Johnson invited the two Beatles to his hotel. During this event, he played them a copy of “Pet Sounds” that would be released in the UK on June 27. Paul McCartney was deeply impressed by “Pet Sounds,” and it inspired him for the introduction of “Here, There and Everywhere.”

The big influence was Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. That was the album that flipped me. The musical invention on that album was, like, ‘Wow!’ That was the big thing for me. I just thought, ‘Oh dear me. This is the album of all time. What the hell are we going to do?’ So, Sgt Pepper eventually came out, basically, from the idea that I had about this band. It was going to be an album of another band that wasn’t us. We were going to call ourselves something else, and just imagine all the time that it wasn’t us playing this album. So, I had this song written of ‘Sgt Pepper’, who, twenty year’s ago today, taught us to play and we’re his protégés and here we are.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008


The early surf records… I was aware of them as a musical act, and I used to like all that, but I didn’t get deeply interested in it — it was just a real nice sound…We used to admire the singing, the high falsetto really and the very sort of ‘California’ lyrics.

It was later… it was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. First of all, it was Brian’s writing. I love the album so much. I’ve just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life — I figure no one is educated musically ’til they’ve heard that album. I was into the writing and the songs. […]


It’s actually just the introduction that’s influenced… John and I used to be interested in what the old fashioned writers used to call the verse, which we nowadays would call the intro…this whole preamble to a song, and I wanted to have one of those on the front of ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ John and I were quite into those from the old-fashioned songs that used to have them, and in putting that [sings “To lead a better life”] on the front of ‘Here, There and Everywhere,’ we were doing harmonies, and the inspiration for that was the Beach Boys. We had that in our minds during the introduction to ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’

I don’t think anyone, unless I told them, would even notice, but we’d often do that, get something off an artist or artists that you really liked and have them in your mind while you were recording things, to give you the inspiration and give you the direction…nearly always, it ended up sounding more like us than them anyway.

Paul McCartney – Interview with David Leaf, 1990

It’s late May of 1966. I have two copies of Pet Sounds, and I’m at the end of a tour. We’re all in love with the Beatles, the Stones, the Who. Jagger paved the way in England for the Beach Boys by getting pirate stations to play ‘I Get Around.’ In 1964, the band did a successful promo tour of England and Europe, and I know, as a young guy who came up in the business instead of in a band, it seemed to me that it was a great marketing opportunity to go to England, show up at EMI and see what was going on with Pet Sounds. It wasn’t out in England yet, but ‘Sloop John B’ was a hit there already.

From Chicago, I flew to England. Checked into a suite at this really cool English hotel in the theatre district. Derek Taylor, who was our publicist, writes a synopsis for me of what the London scene is. I call an old school pal, Kim Fowley, who is over there being his wonderful, outrageous self, and I say, ‘I’m coming over. Can you be my guide? What’s going on and pull me through it.’ Thank God he was there. He got the word out that one of the Beach Boys was in town. I never did less than fifteen interviews a day. I never went anyplace. Everybody came to my suite. Keith Moon showed up, and he became my pal. All we did was talk Beach Boys. I played him Pet Sounds. I think he died and went to heaven, before he died and went to heaven.

Between the interviews, I played everybody Pet Sounds. It got so much publicity it forced EMI to put the album out sooner. Keith Moon graciously included me on some TV interviews, and he was the guy who made contact with Lennon and McCartney on behalf of this Beach Boy thing coming to life. Then, on my last night, there was a party in my suite. I was standing in the hallway outside my room, talking to Keith. Kim said, ‘You better come back into the living room, because two of the Beatles are here and they want to hear Pet Sounds.’

We played it over and over all night. For about four hours. For some reason, there were three Beach Boys or Beatles fans that were there and were playing cards with us and John and Paul. They were absolutely delightful. These were more innocent times.

What did I deliver to England? Something that was Brian Wilson’s best work. It certainly pushed the Beatles over the edge, on a positive level, and made them go beyond Rubber Soul and Revolver to Sgt. Pepper. Did you ever hear the term, ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’? Sometimes, it goes the other way. I was the ultimate pre-Fed Ex delivery guy, but instead of dropping off the package and leaving, I got some kind of cosmic tip by having the Beatles hang around with me.

My observation was that these guys could actually put all their brilliant dialogue in the car park overnight and have the good manners and great taste to listen to something that would eventually (other than Buddy Holly and Little Richard) be their guide and inspiration. They were speechless. They absolutely had the good sense to sit there and listen. It was just a portable record player, and they were listening to it in mono. But they weren’t judging the fidelity of it; they were listening to the music of it.

The counterpart of the story is that a year later, I was in a London club called the Speakeasy. Procol Harum had finished performing, it was four in the morning and somebody waltzed in with an acetate of Sgt. Pepper. It was the first time I had heard it. It was a beautiful, inadvertent payback for me. There were definitely two pen-pals [Brian and Paul] going on.”

Bruce Johnson – From the liner notes of “The Pet Sounds Sessions, 1997

According to [producer Kim] Fowley, John and Paul silently played canasta with the fan club girls as the record was played twice and then immediately went to a piano they’d asked to be brought in for them and began playing chords and discussing a song with each other in a whispered conversation.

From “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner

They weren’t there to pay tribute to Brian Wilson or Bruce Johnston; they were there to see what the competition was. They were there to take the best of Pet Sounds and apply it to Revolver… They didn’t steal lyrics, or notes, or chords. They stole emotional impact and pathos.

Kim Fowley – Producer – From “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner

I took an American version of “Pet Sounds” in May of ’66 to England and then Keith Moon and I hit it off stupendously. Keith, really, in his dream world, wishes he would rather have been Al Jardine of the Beach Boys. Yet he does all his great rolling in the Who and he wanted to be “I don’t want to be in a surf band” but he wanted to be in that kind of California musical style.

Keith and I did some clubbing, which is really fun, and a couple of drop-ins, Ready Steady Go and Radio Fusion, you know all that stuff and Keith is about 18 or 19 and then I got back and I had a couple of people meeting me, and Keith had brought Lennon and McCartney over to the hotel, and we were able to sit down, “now check this out”, and I put on my record player. With the speakers in it. That’s what I was able to get from the hotel to play music… So I was able to play the mono which sounded great and then we played it through, and then we played it again. And Lennon and McCartney… They were awesome, they were so polite and cool and loved the music; it was a great experience.

Usually, it’s “don’t shoot the messenger”. Well, this time, the messenger, you know, almost got knighted, because I brought this great work I had nothing to do with. […] Apparently the vibe of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” crept into “Here, There and Everywhere” on the “Revolver” album… So I show up in England and the messenger is not shot, and EMI, much to their credit abroad, they got right behind the album, because of the reaction of a lot of the artists and the Beatles. So in England and in Europe, “Pet Sounds” was a big deal.

Bruce Johnson – From Bruce Johnston brings Pet Sounds to Lennon & McCartney in London – YouTube – From the extra features on Brian Wilson: Songwriter (1962-1969)

One of Paul McCartney’s favorite albums of 1966 was the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and he often played it on his portable gramophone during breaks, so it wasn’t altogether unsurprising when he announced that he wanted a “really clean American sound” on the next song of his to be recorded: “Penny Lane.” I’d spent a lot of time mastering American records, and I was convinced that the best way to give Paul what he wanted was to record each instrument totally on its own so that there would be no leakage (or “bleed,” as it was known) whatsoever. Paul’s trust in me was such that he simply said offhandedly, “Okay, well, let’s do it that way, then.”

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

From Paul and John Meet Bruce Johnston – The Beatles History ( – Keith Moon and Bruce Johnston, London, 1966

Last updated on December 9, 2023

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