Recording "Hey Jude"

Thursday, August 1, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Hey Jude / Revolution 7" Single.
Timeline More from year 1968
Studio:
Trident Studios, London, UK

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About

After two days of rehearsals and rough takes at Abbey Road, and a day of proper recording at Trident Studios, on this day, The Beatles completed the recording of “Hey Jude“, still at Trident Studios (to benefit from its eight-track recording facilities).

From 5 pm to 8 pm, The Beatles added overdubs onto Take 1, recorded the previous day. Paul McCartney added bass, his lead vocals, while the other Beatles added some backing vocals. Ringo also added a tambourine. John and George also recorded some electric guitar overdubs which went unused.

Then, from 8 pm till 11 am, a 36-piece orchestra was recorded. From The Beatles Monthly Book, September 1968, N°62:

[…] On Thursday, August 1, we imported a 40-piece orchestra, the largest group of accompaniment musicians we’d used since the Beatles did “A Day In The Life” for “Sgt. Pepper” well over a year ago. As you all know by now “Hey Jude” starts out as a plaintive ballad with Paul’s voice well up in front of a fairly simple backing. Then the arrangement begins to build up towards an exciting cimax. That’s where the big orchestra came in. Mostly they just held single notes for long periods to underline and emphasise the whole atmosphere of the recording.

TOWARDS THE END OF THE EVENING WE DECIDED TO MAKE DOUBLE USE OF THE 40 MUSICIANS BY ASKING THEM IF THEY’D LIKE TO DO A BIT OF SINGING AND CLAP THEIR HANDS. THEY WERE QUITE PLEASED TO OBLIGE AND THE ENTIRE ORCHESTRA STOOD UP, CLAPPED AND SANG THEIR “LA-LA-LA” BITS UNDER PAUL’S CLOSE SUPERVISION.

So “Hey Jude” was finished that night at the end of a highly spectacular session. […]

Mal Evans

The orchestra featured 10 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, 2 flutes, 2 double basses, 1 contrabassoon, 1 bassoon, 2 clarinets, 1 contrabass clarinet, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 French horns and 1 percussionist. The musicians’ names are unknown with the exception of Bobby Kok who played cello and Bill Jackman on flute.

We just played the refrain over and over, the repeated riff which plays in the long fade-out.

Bill Jackman

The studio at Trident was long and narrow. When we did the orchestral overdub we had to put the trombones at the very front so that they didn’t poke anyone in the back!

Chris Thomas – George Martin’s assistant

As reported by Mal Evans, most musicians were happy to clap their hands and contribute backing vocals (the double fee surely helped), but one musician refused:

The only time we have had real objections from an orchestra was during the recording of ‘Hey Jude,’ the biggest-selling single of all. I wanted them to sing and clap their hands as well as play, and one man walked out. ‘I’m not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney’s bloody song,’ he said, in spite of the fact that he was getting double rates for his trouble.

George Martin – from his book “All You Need Is Ears”

It was obviously a Paul song, and we actually recorded it with Paul sitting at a piano, singing as he played. Then we overdubbed this fairly large orchestra and we got about forty musicians in the studio, playing their instruments, and, somewhat reluctantly, we also got them singing on the end, because we wanted this general big noise. I don’t think they liked doing it very much. In fact, one of them asked me for a special fee afterwards, which I think he got. ‘Hey Jude’ worked out a very satisfactory record and, in fact, became one of the biggest single sellers that we ever had.

George Marting – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

With the recording over, the mixing of the song would start the following day.

From Facebook – 1 August 1968 Photo by Tony Bramwell © (https://www.thebeatles.com/)
From Facebook – 1 August 1968 Photo by Tony Bramwell © (https://www.thebeatles.com/)
From Facebook – 1 August 1968 – Photo by Tony Bramwell © (http://www.thebeatles.com/)

Last updated on September 26, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Hey Jude

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 1

Staff

Musicians on Hey Jude

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocal
Ringo Starr:
Backing vocals, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Backing vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals
Bill Jackman:
Flute
?:
2 cellos, 1 percussionist, 4 trombones, 1 contrabassoon, 2 French horns, 1 bassoon, 2 clarinets, 10 violins, 4 trumpets, 1 flute, 3 violas, 1 contrabass clarinet, 2 double basses
Bobby Kok:
Cello

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Barry Sheffield:
Engineer

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!

The Beatles Bible

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.

Have a look at https://www.beatlesbible.com/1968/08/01/recording-hey-jude-3/

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