Recording "Penny Lane" and mixing "When I'm Sixty Four", "Penny Lane"

Friday, December 30, 1966 • 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 Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane 7" Single.
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

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This day’s session started at 7 pm. The first task was to create the final mono mix for “When I’m Sixty-Four“. The previous day, four mono mixes numbered 4 to 7 had been made. Remix 6 had been marked as best for the US market, and Remix 7 had been considered for the UK market. But Paul was unsatisfied and wanted the song to be faster than the original recording speed. They decided to raise the key by a semitone and only one attempt was needed. The new remix 8 would be released on both UK and US releases of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. The stereo mix would be created on April 17, 1967.

During the mix, Paul also asked to have the track sped up a great deal – almost a semitone – so that his voice would sound more youthful, like the teenager he was when he originally wrote the song.

Geoff Emerick – From “When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles (

George Martin in his book says that I had it speeded up because I wanted to appear younger but I think that was just to make it more rooty-tooty; just lift the key because it was starting to sound a little turgid.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

Certainly when the stereo remix was made, as far away as 17 April 1967, Richard Lush – the tape operator on that session – remembers George Martin being incredulous at how much the mono mix had been speeded up. “He kept saying ‘Surely it can’t have been that fast’?“. It was, and anybody with the luxury of today’s vari-speed record turntables or tape machines can hear the song at the right speed if they so wish.

From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn

The next task was to create some tape-to-tape copies of the mono version of “Strawberry Fields Forever“, to be sent to Capitol Records in the US.

Once the mixing of “When I’m Sixty-Four” and the tape copying tasks were done, The Beatles focused their efforts on Paul McCartney’s “Penny Lane“, which recording started the previous day.

They started by doing a reduction mix of take 6 into take 7, to free up three tracks for more overdubs.

Four-track recording was a real limitation with this particular song, so we were constantly having to bounce tracks together and do reductions (which we sometimes called ‘premixes’). In the end, there were so many keyboards blended together, they ended up becoming a sound of their own; listening to the finished recording, it’s hard to pick out individual instruments. Some of the overdubs even got buried altogether because of the density of the instrumentation and the number of bounces. Nonetheless, ‘Penny Lane’ contains a lot of great sounds.

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

Onto take 7, Paul added his lead vocals, and John Lennon some backing vocals (recorded at a slower than normal playback speed, to sound faster upon playback). Those performances would be replaced during the following session, on January 4, 1967.

Before the session ended at 3 am, two rough mono mixes of Take 7 were created for demo purposes.

Last updated on January 26, 2023

Songs recorded


When I'm Sixty-Four

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 8 from take 4

Album Officially released on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono)


Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape copying of remix mono 12


Penny Lane

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 6 into take 7


Penny Lane

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 7


Penny Lane

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 7


Penny Lane

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 7


Musicians on "Penny Lane"

Paul McCartney:
John Lennon:
Backing vocals

Production staff

George Martin:
Geoff Emerick:
Phil McDonald:
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!

Shop on Amazon

The Beatles Recording Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)

The second book of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)-nominated series, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 2: Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)" follows the evolution of the band from the end of Beatlemania with "Help!" through the introspection of "Rubber Soul" up to the sonic revolution of "Revolver". 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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