Jam session with Brian Wilson and John and Michelle Phillips

Tuesday, April 11, 1967 • For Various Artists

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.


Although the recording of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album was unfinished, Paul decided to take a ten-day break in the United States to surprise his girlfriend Jane Asher on her 21st birthday. The trip, which lasted from April 3 to April 11, 1967, was accompanied by Mal Evans.

On April 9, Paul and Mal travelled from Denver (where they had spent a few days with Jane) to Los Angeles, where they spent a couple of days.

On April 10, they went shopping before paying a visit to John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas. After a while, Paul left alone to join The Beach Boys at their recording session where he was recorded chewing vegetables for the song “Vega-Tables“, for their upcoming album “Smile“.

In the early hours of April 11, Paul brought Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys session to John and Michelle Phillips’ house, where they played some music together.

Paul brought back Brian Wilson and his wife from The Beach Boys’ session. Paul had thoroughly enjoyed the recording — even joined in on guitar for “On Top Of Old Smokey”. Now another “session” began with John and Michelle getting out their collection of instruments. John brought in a tray of glasses, each filled with different amounts of water. Yes, he can even play THOSE! Paul on cello and, sometimes, flugelhorn. Lasted most of the night, talking and playing. Then back to Derek’s place for early breakfast and packing.

Mal Evans – From The Beatles Monthly Book, July 1967

Paul McCartney played cello, Brian Wilson tapped glasses filled with water, Michelle Phillips played drums and Papa John [Phillips] played buggle at a jam session in the Phillips’ home during Paul’s visit to Los Angeles. Paul also caught some recording sessions for The Beach Boy’s Smile Album.

From Teen Set magazine – Quoted in “Smile : the story of Brian Wilson’s lost masterpiece“, 2007

Brian then put a damper on the spontaneity of the whole affair by walking in with a tray of water-filled glasses, trying to arrange it into some sort of session.

Mal Evans – from his diary – From Here, there and everywhere (thetimes.co.uk), March 20, 2005

[This encounter with Paul McCartney] was a little uptight and we really didn’t seem to hit it off. It didn’t really flow… It didn’t really go too good.

Brian Wilson – From “Rock and Other Four Letter Words: Music of the Electric Generation” by Jamake Highwater, 1968

One night Scott [McKenzie, friend of John Phillips] and I were on a real tear and in walked Paul McCartney and some friends in the Beatles organization. Paul was in town in connection with “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” They were the Beatles hits in the early months of 1967. Scott froze in mid-shot. It must have been the first time he had met Paul. Paul was always so nonchalant and disarmingly modest. He just waved casually and, not wanting to disrupt the game, said to Scott, “Eh, mate, don’t let me throw you off your game. Just keep playing.” Scott shook his head, leaned over the table, and lined up his next shot.

We sat in front of the fireplace and heard all the latest Beatle adventures and folklore from Paul. The grass and pills had been passed around and I was flying. Then Paul spotted Michelle’s cello standing in a corner. He had never played one before, but he started plucking away at it as if it were a giant bass guitar. I sat down at the grand piano in the living room and we began noodling around. Then I got up and turned off the lights to show cartoons.

We were all laughing our heads off as Paul walked to the piano. He played the keys and plucked the strings inside the piano, simultaneously watching and scoring music for the cartoons. It was an impressive display of composing genius. By daybreak I had crashed out in the living room. Scott came into the house and woke me to tell a story. He had given Paul, Mal Evans, a Beatles executive, and an L.A. groupie a ride to where they were staying. “It was amazing,” Scott said in his boyish drawl. His eyes were widening with excitement. “We get up into Laurel Canyon and stop at this gas station. I’m in the front with Mal and Paul’s with the chick in the back. The morning traffic’s already on its way down towards Sunset. On the radio, would you believe it, is ‘Strawberry Fields’ and the guy’s standing there with the pump in his hand, singin’ along — no idea there’s Paul McCartney in the backseat. So we drive some more and Paul leans up and taps me on the shoulder real gently and asks, “Oh, I meant to ask you. What is it exactly you do?’ What was I going to say, ‘I used to be a Smoothie’? ‘I’m an ex-Journeyman’? ‘I’m a singer,’ I said. Then he asked me what I sang. And I was so out of it and confused I said I didn’t really know what I sang. I’ll never forget that. It was so weird, but he was cool about it.”

John Phillips – FromPapa John: An Autobiography (of the Mamas and the Papas): A Music Legend’s Shattering Journey Though Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll” by John Phillips, 2006

Paul and Mal then returned to Derek Taylor’s house in time for breakfast and started packing up in anticipation of their flight back to London later that day.

Last updated on March 12, 2023

Too bad, there is no song listed for this session. Help us fill the track list for this session by writing a comment!



Paul McCartney:
Flugelhorn, Cello
Brian Wilson:
John Phillips:
Buggle, Glasses
Michelle Phillips:

Going further

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *