Recording "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

Tuesday, February 28, 1967 • For The Beatles

Part of

Recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Nov 24, 1966 - Apr 20, 1967 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono) LP.
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

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On this day, The Beatles rehearsed a new song, which became “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds“, from 7 pm to 3 am, but they didn’t record any formal take.

During this session, a reporter from Life magazine named Thomas Thompson and photographer Henry Grossman visited The Beatles. This visit led to an article about the session being published in the June 16, 1967, edition of Life Magazine. In the article, Paul McCartney admitted to taking LSD. The UK press quickly picked up on this revelation, and three days later, Paul gave a statement to Independent Television News (ITN). The article also contains various photos from the rehearsal session, as well as other photos taken by Henry Grossman.

Paul was also visited by his father, Jim McCartney.

The formal recording of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” started the following day.

On 28 February we started working on something at seven o’clock in the evening. It was something intangible: something we couldn’t quite get at. We went right on working for eight hours, going home at three in the morning. We still hadn’t recorded a thing, except the odd stray line. [This] was eventually to become ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’.

George Martin – From “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper“, 1995

Although they’d use the studio as a rehearsal room you couldn’t just clear off because they might be trying something out, just piano or bass or drums — and they’d want to come up and listen to the thing before carrying on. So you couldn’t just disappear or nod off, you had to be around all the time. The nights were so long when you had nothing to do. While they were actually working on the records, wonderful — all those great sounds, wonderful — but what people don’t realise is the boredom factor. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band took four months to record and for probably more than half that time all the engineers were doing was sitting around waiting for them to get their ideas together.

Peter Vince – From EMI Studios – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn, 1988

I remember when we walked in that Paul [McCartney] came over and said ‘hey guys, listen to this…, and he sat down at the piano and started playing something, and [the other three Beatles] all gathered around, and by the end of the evening they were working on “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” It changed so much from the beginning. And what fascinated me was that, at one time George [Harrison] got up and went into the engineering room, and he started pulling out condensers from the array of machinery. ‘Bring this one down here, and this one over here,’ and that kinda thing. They knew what they were doing, and playing with, and that was terrific.

Henry Grossman – From PHAWKER.COM, July 27, 2017

I was wearing a paisley tie, from Liberty of London. It was a very nice place, and it was a very sedate tie — I looked at the way the guys were dressed, and I said, ‘Ringo, I wish I had the guts to wear a tie like that.’ He came over and fingered my paisley tie and he said, ‘Well Henry, if ya did, it would still be Henry but with a bright tie.’ I never thought of that!

Henry Grossman – From PHAWKER.COM, July 27, 2017

I liked them. And what I liked about them mostly was the authenticity, the simplicity and honesty, and the intelligence. I went to their first press conference here in New York, I loved it. But when The Rolling Stones came, I went to their press conference — I never went back. I didn’t like ‘em. They were smarmy. The Beatles, these guys, aside from the music — the fact that they’re wonderful musicians and they have formed the center of a musical universe for fifty years is terrific — that’s aside from who they are as people. There was an honesty and a simplicity and a directness — [and] the direct understanding of who they were and what was happening. Unusual and rare.

Henry Grossman – From PHAWKER.COM, July 27, 2017

From Life Magazine, June 16, 1967:

The session to record music for the newest Beatle album was planned for 7 this night in the E.M.l. studios in London, but the boys are late. Suddenly at 8 the room crackles to life. Paul McCartney comes in singing a nonsense tune and John Lennon trails him. Ringo appears shortly and George Harrison is last. […]

Now the recording session begins, so casually that it seems no beginning at all. Paul sits down at the piano and begins chording. (I wished for a tape recorder because the impromptu musicale was marvelous.) John, meanwhile, spots a volume of Cummings’ poetry lying on the piano and begins to read it. Ringo, hungry or maybe merely disinterested, goes to a corner and starts wolfing down a plate of mashed potatoes and beans which an aide has produced. George is showing off a large black frock coat which he purchased at an antique clothing shop in Chelsea. “I rather imagine some headwaiter at the Savoy didn’t want it any more,” he says.

A tall, lean young man in a quiet gray suit and modest tie hovers at the piano. This is George Martin, producer and arranger of the Beatle music. He is a recognized musical scholar and the offstage presence who has come to be called the Fifth Beatle. Paul and John explain to him that they have spent this day writing a song which they want to record tonight. “All right, let’s hear it,” he says. Paul pounds out a strong assortment of chords and John sings, falsetto, the melody which is to be called “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. They go through it half a dozen times while Martin nods, quickly familiarizing himself with the composition and making notes.

At this embryonic stage, the song sounds like the early Beatle works which dealt in jackhammer 4-4 arrangements and lyrics which were seldom more eloquent than “Yeh, yeh, yeh.” But before they are done with it on this long evening and on many more, it will undergo extraordinary changes.

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies,” sings John over and over again, while George Harrison begins finding a guitar accompaniment and Ringo, sipping orange drink, slaps out a rhythm. I began to understand the remarkable process of the Beatle music. It begins absolutely from scratch. The Beatles (who can neither write nor read music) are composing even as they record. […]

It is now almost midnight in the recording studio and after four hours of assault, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” still sounds quite terrible. Fifth Beatle Martin grimaces.

We are light-years away from anything tonight,” he shudders. “They know it is awful now, and they’re trying to straighten it out. It may be a week before they’re pleased, if ever. They’re always coming up with something new they’ve just learned, something I wouldn’t dream of. They never cease to amaze me.” […]

Now, at the bone-weary hour of 2 a.m., “Lucy with the Diamond Eyes” is beginning to take shape. Paul has suggested a tempo change. John is rearranging the lyrics. George is experimenting on a new guitar sound and Ringo has added brushstrokes. […]

From Life Magazine, June 16, 1967

From Facebook – 28 February 1967 Photo by Henry Grossman © Grossman Enterprises LLC (
From Facebook – 28 February 1967 Photo by Henry Grossman © Grossman Enterprises LLC (
From Facebook – 28 February 1967 Photo by Henry Grossman © Grossman Enterprises LLC (
From Facebook – 28 February 1967 Photo by Henry Grossman © Grossman Enterprises LLC (
From Facebook – 28 February 1967 Photo by Henry Grossman © Grossman Enterprises LLC (
Photo by Henry Grossman – From a moral to this song — I think that photo of Paul with his eyes closed… (

Photo by Henry Grossman – From Recording Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles History (
The Beatles and photographer Harry Grossman – From PHAWKER.COM, July 27, 2017

In 2009, Curvebender Publishing published “Kaleidoscope Eyes: A Day In The Life of Sgt. Pepper“, a limited-edition book featuring over 220 never-published pictures from this session by Henry Grossman.

From Curvebender Publishing:

[…] American photographer Henry Grossman spent an evening in the studio with the band as they began work on a new song: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. Henry documented the entire session with his camera, taking more than 250 black and white photographs over the course of the evening. Only a small handful of these amazing pictures has ever been seen by the public. Curvebender is proud to present – for the first time ever – the entire collection of black and white photos, including more than 220 never-published pictures. Housed in a deluxe limited edition volume, these beautiful images are presented in chronological order, allowing the evening to unfold for the reader just as it did for Henry. The result is a stunning photographic essay, an intimate fly-on-the-wall view of the Beatles at work.

Strictly limited to 1967 hand-numbered copies, each 11” X 11” hardcover book is individually hand-signed by Henry Grossman and housed in a deluxe clamshell case. The book’s 240 silver-edged pages are printed on heavyweight art paper with image varnishing. Also included is a portfolio containing four limited edition black and white museum-quality prints and a reproduction of one of Henry’s original contact sheets – all suitable for framing. […]

From Recording Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles History (

Last updated on January 2, 2024

Songs recorded


Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Rehearsal only


Production staff

George Martin:
Geoff Emerick:
Richard Lush:
Second Engineer


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!

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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.

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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.

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