Recording and mixing "The Fool On The Hill"

Monday, September 25, 1967 • For The Beatles

Part of


Recording the "Magical Mystery Tour" soundtrack

Apr 25 - May 3 and Aug 22 - Nov 17, 1967 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Magical Mystery Tour (US LP - Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Magical Mystery Tour (US LP - Mono) LP.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Some songs from this session appear on:



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About

On September 6, 1967, Paul McCartney recorded a piano and vocal demo of “The Fool On The Hill“. On this day, from 7 pm to 3 am, The Beatles began proper work on the track.

During the session, three takes of the backing track were recorded, with Paul on piano and vocals, and George Harrison and John Lennon on harmonicas. To achieve a slightly slower-than-normal speed, frequency control was applied to the recording.

Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues recalled in a 2015 interview how he and fellow bandmate Mike Pinder contributed to the harmonicas on “The Fool On The Hill.” Although it is uncertain if this contribution was made during this session or on September 26.

We were very friendly at the time with the Beatles. I mean, this is going back to the original band… we lived in one big house all together in North Hampton, and that was fantastic. We rented this house for a year and it was just a year-long party. The Beatles used to come over and there’s all these girls hanging around outside, and they used to come across our neighbor’s back gardens, climbing the fences to get in without the fans seeing them. They came over and they played us Sgt. Pepper. They really admired our band and of course we admired them, and so they came over and said, “What do you think?” – because they wanted our opinion on it. In those days, there wasn’t any backbiting with bands. There was so much creativity going on. We used to sit down and listen to somebody else and say, “Bloody hell, that’s fantastic. Why didn’t we think of that?”…stuff like that. Anyway, Mike and I went into Abbey Road after that, and we played on “I Am The Walrus” and “Fool on the Hill.” And it was my idea to put all those harmonicas on. There was George and John, me and Mike around the microphone. Paul was in the control room at the desk, and we put these harmonicas down and did some vocal backing on “Walrus.”

Ray Thomas – From Discussions Magazine Music Blog: An EXCLUSIVE interview with THE MOODY BLUES’ Ray Thomas! (archive.org), January 2015

A tape reduction was then done, numbered Take 4, to free up two tracks. The piano and vocal tracks were combined into one, and the harmonicas onto the other. More overdubs followed on Take 4, with Paul playing some additional piano and some double-tracked recorders, John playing acoustic guitar, George playing maracas, and Ringo Starr playing a double-tracked drum part. At some point in the process, the harmonicas were dropped.

Before the session ended, Remix Mono 1 was created from Take 4. It was released in “Anthology 2” in 1996.

The master of Paul’s The Fool On The Hill was a remake, started on 26 September. Three takes of an alternative arrangement were recorded the previous day, the last being “bounced down” to Take 4 and on to which recorder, drums and Paul’s lead vocal were added. As with the demo, it is clear that Paul had yet to finalise the lyric at this point.

From Anthology 2 liner notes

Work on “The Fool On The Hill” continued the following day.


The session was attended by two Japanese journalists, reporter Rumiko Hoshika and photographer Koh Hasebe from the magazine “Music Life.” A number of photographs of The Beatles at work were subsequently published, and rehearsals of the song and interviews were also recorded.

Yoko Ono also attended this recording session, marking her first appearance with The Beatles. She was photographed on the day talking to her future husband, John Lennon.

In September 1967 I was in London again at a recording session as John and Paul worked together to finish up the lyrics to “The Fool on the Hill.” I was not the only Japanese woman in the studio that day. Also sitting in a corner of the studio was Ono Yōko, whose relationship with John Lennon would make headlines around the world by the end of the year.

I also happened to be present at the now legendary rooftop concert in January 1969. I had gone to London for another job, when an employee of Apple Records—founded by the Beatles—contacted me, telling me they would perform on the roof and inviting me to go and see them. I thought it was just a one-off with the four members getting together on a whim for the first time in a long time, so I was surprised later on when the album and film versions of Let It Be were released. […]

Hoshika Rumiko – From When Beatlemania Came to Japan | Nippon.com, July 28, 2016

From Beatles at EMI Studio Abbey Road, London, September 1967. News Photo – Getty Images – (MANDATORY CREDIT Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images) Beatles at EMI Studio Abbey Road, London, September 1967. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)
From Facebook – 25 September 1967 Photo by Koh Hasebe © Shinko Music Archives
From 25 September 1967 – UK, Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road – Fool On The Hill – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Facebook – 25 September 1967 Photo by Koh Hasebe © Shinko Music Archives (https://www.musiclifeclub.com/)
From Facebook – 25 September 1967 Photo by Koh Hasebe © Shinko Music Archives
From Facebook – 25 September 1967 – Photo by Koh Hasebe © Shinko Music Archives

[…] Before beginning “THE FOOL ON THE HILL”, the group decided to do “Your Mother Should Know” again. They didn’t like various things about the first version and thought of ways in which it should be improved. After that “THE FOOL ON THE HILL” got under way on September 25. A decidedly Pauly sort of ballad with him singing and playing piano. Ringo plays the finger cymbals, George and John use harmonicas and Paul double-tracked his playing of the recorder to make it sound like two. The solo guitar passage is (of course) George. The only other instrument heard on “The Fool on the Hill” is a flute played by Paul. […]

Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968
Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968

Last updated on September 13, 2023

Songs recorded


1.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1


2.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 2


3.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 3


4.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 3 into take 4


5.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 4


6.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 4

Album Officially released on Anthology 2

Staff

Musicians on "The Fool On The Hill"

Paul McCartney:
Vocals, Piano, Recorder
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Acoustic guitar, Harmonica
George Harrison:
Harmonica, Maracas
Ray Thomas:
Harmonica ?
Mike Pinder:
Harmonica ?

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer
Richard Lush:
Second Engineer

Visitors

Going further


The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

Shop on Amazon


The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 3: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band through Magical Mystery Tour (late 1966-1967)

The third book of this critically - acclaimed series, nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) award for Excellence In Historical Recorded Sound, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 3: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band through Magical Mystery Tour (late 1966-1967)" captures the band's most innovative era in its entirety. From the first take to the final remix, discover the making of the greatest recordings of all time. Through extensive, fully-documented research, these books fill an important gap left by all other Beatles books published to date and provide a unique view into the recordings of the world's most successful pop music act.

Shop on Amazon


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

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