Recording "Revolver"

April 6 - June 22, 1966 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Revolver (UK Mono) LP.
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Songs recorded



Apr 16, 1966Recording "Rain"



Apr 21, 1966Recording "Taxman"




After a busy end to 1965, which saw the completion of their album “Rubber Soul” and a UK tour, the Beatles were supposed to start filming their third film at the beginning of 1966, which was based on the script “A Talent For Loving“. However, in mid-December, the project was cancelled. As a result, The Beatles had a break of about three months in early 1966.

Paul McCartney continued his exploration of the London arts scene, looking for inspiration for his music and enjoying being around other creative people. He helped to launch the underground Indica bookstore, connected with art dealer Robert Fraser (who would become a friend), acquired his first painting by Magritteattended a lecture by Luciano Berio, a pioneer in electronic music, created some experimental films

In a March 1966 interview with Maureen Cleave, John Lennon declared “You see, there’s something else I’m going to do, something I must do – only I don’t know what it is. That’s why I go round painting and taping and drawing and writing and that, because it may be one of them. All I know is, this isn’t it for me.

George Harrison continued his exploration of Indian music and the practice of the sitar.

The period also allowed for leisure. John and Ringo Starr escaped to Trinidad. George married Patty Boyd in January and they enjoyed a Barbados honeymoon in February. Paul enjoyed a ski trip in Switzerland with Jane Asher.

This period of rest, reflection, and exploration undeniably shaped the creative evolution that “Revolver” would represent. While they initially considered recording at Stax Studio in Memphis, they eventually reconvened at EMI Studios in London on April 6, 1966.

From Wikipedia:

Hoping to work in a more modern studio than EMI’s London facility, the Beatles sent Brian Epstein to Memphis in March 1966 to investigate the possibility of their recording at Stax Studio. According to a letter written by Harrison two months later, the group had intended to work with Stax’s in-house producer, Jim Stewart. The idea was abandoned after locals began descending on the Stax building, as were alternative plans to use either Atlantic Studios in New York or Motown’s facility in Detroit.

Sessions for the album instead began at the smaller more intimate studio three of EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London on 6 April 1966, with George Martin again serving as producer. The first track attempted was Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows“, the arrangement for which changed considerably between the initial take that day and the subsequent remake. This take 1 of “Tomorrow Never Knows“, along with several other outtakes from the album sessions, was included on the 1996 compilation Anthology 2.

According to Rodriguez, Revolver marks the first time that the Beatles “deliberately incorporated” the studio into the “conception of the recordings they made“, rather than using it “merely as a tool to capture performances“. A key production technique that the band began using was automatic double tracking (ADT), which EMI engineer Ken Townsend invented on 6 April. This technique employed two linked tape recorders to automatically create a doubled vocal track. The standard method had been to double the vocal by singing the same piece twice onto a multitrack tape, a task Lennon particularly disliked. The Beatles were reportedly delighted with the invention, and used it extensively on Revolver. ADT soon became a standard pop production technique, and led to related developments such as the artificial chorus effect.

Another EMI engineer, Geoff Emerick, recalled of the Beatles’ eagerness to experiment: “Revolver very rapidly became the album where the Beatles would say, ‘OK, that sounds great, now let’s play [the recording] backwards or speeded up or slowed down.’ They tried everything backwards, just to see what things sounded like.” The band’s interest in the tones that resulted from varying tape speed (or varispeeding) extended to recording a basic track at a faster tempo than they intended the song to sound on disc.

Brought in as an assistant to George Martin, Emerick was responsible for several innovations in the studio. Most importantly for the band’s sound, he and Townsend recorded McCartney’s bass guitar amplifier via a loudspeaker, instead of a standard microphone. With McCartney now using a Rickenbacker bass, in place of his Höfner model, this new set-up ensured that the bass was more prominent than on any previous Beatles release. The recording staff employed this technique only on the two songs that were selected for a non-album single, however: “Paperback Writer” and “Rain“. Emerick also ensured a greater presence for Starr’s bass drum, by inserting an item of clothing inside the structure, to dampen the sound, and then moving the microphone to just 3 inches from the drumhead and compressing the signal through a Fairchild Limiter. Musicologist Ian MacDonald writes that, despite Abbey Road being technically inferior to many recording facilities in the United States, Starr’s drumming on the album soon led to studios there “being torn apart and put back together again“, as engineers sought to replicate the innovative sounds achieved by the Beatles.

The band had recorded nine songs by 1 May, when they performed at the NME’s annual Poll-Winners Concert. Held at Wembley’s Empire Pool, in north-west London, this was the last concert that the Beatles would play before a paying audience in the United Kingdom. Performing before a crowd of 10,000, they played a set that was perceived as lacklustre. With Lennon and Harrison both publicly expressing their disenchantment with fame and Beatlemania, rumours circulated throughout 1966 that the band were splitting up. The pair also showed their support for Bob Dylan’s controversial adoption of an electric sound, urging a disapproving audience at his Royal Albert Hall concert that same month to stop their heckling.

Later in May, the Beatles spent two days making promotional films for their upcoming single. The first set of clips was filmed at Abbey Road on 19 May by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director of the popular TV show Ready Steady Go! The following day, the group travelled to west London and shot further clips for the songs in the grounds of Chiswick House. On 16 June, five days before the end of the album sessions, they filmed live performances of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” for Top of the Pops.

Unlike our previous LPs, this one is intended to show our versatility rather than a haphazard collection of songs. We use trumpets, violins and cellos to achieve new effects. George has written three of the tracks. On past LPs he never did more than two and Ringo sings, or rather talks, a children’s song. This is all part of our idea of being up-to-date and including something for everybody. We don’t intend to go back and revive ideas of twenty years ago.

Paul McCartney, 1966

We were going to record Revolver in America, but they wanted a fantastic amount of money to use the facilities there. […] When we finished Revolver, we realised that we had found a new British sound almost by accident. I think there were only two tracks on the LP that would have sounded better if we’d cut them in America. ‘Taxman’ and ‘Got To Get You Into My Life,’ because they need that raw quality that you just can’t get in this country for some reason. But ‘Eleanor Rigby’ would have been worse, because the string players in America aren’t so good.

Paul McCartney, 1966

I think Paul was very conscious of the fact that The Beatles were in a position to change the face of pop music. It sounds a bit arrogant, but he really thought pop music was underestimated – it was just regarded as ‘silly love songs’ as he later put it. Songs like Eleanor Rigby, these perfect little stories – they’re as concise as Hemingway or somebody like that. He always objected to the way it was just regarded as pop, just a branch of variety – whereas he saw it as a branch of fine art and poetry.

Barry Miles – From MOJO November 2022

Originally, George Martin was the Supreme Producer In The Sky and we wouldn’t even dare ask to go into the control room. But, as things loosened up, we got invited in and George gave us a bit of the control of the tools; he let us have a go.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

Their ideas were beginning to become much more potent in the studio. They started telling me what they wanted, and pressing me for more ideas and for more ways of translating those ideas into reality.

With Revolver you can hear that the boys were listening to lots of American records and saying, ‘Can we get this effect?’ and so on. So they would want us to do radical things, but this time they’d shove in high EQ on mixing, and for the brass they’d want to have a really toppy’ sound and cut out all the bass. The engineers would sometimes wonder whether there should be that much EQ.

We would go through the complete range of EQ on a disc, and if that wasn’t enough we’d put it through another range of EQ again, multiplied, and we’d get the most weird sound, which The Beatles liked and which obviously worked.

George Martin – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

[George Martin] wanted them to break boundaries. He’d been working with the [BBC] Radiophonic Workshop doing electronic music. He came from comedy records, so to work with a band that didn’t just want to bash out songs would suit him down to the ground.

Giles Martin – From MOJO November 2022

As The Beatles began kicking over the traces of popular music convention, it gave me the freedom to do more of what I enjoyed: experimenting, creating sound pictures, building a whole atmosphere for a song… As long as the five of us agreed, everyone else could go hang!

George Martin – 1995 interview – From MOJO November 2022

The group encouraged us to break the rules. […] It was implanted when we started ‘Revolver’ that every instrument should sound unlike itself: a piano shouldn’t sound like a piano, a guitar shouldn’t sound like a guitar. There were lots of things I wanted to try, we were listening to American records and they sounded so different, the engineers [at Abbey Road] had been using the same [methods] for years and years.

Geoff Emerick, The Beatles: 10 Years That Shook The WorldMojo , 2004

Paul says, ‘Well, we discovered pot’ – but it was more than that. They expanded their horizons, their tonality, their sounds. Whether it was a 12-string electric guitar – which The Byrds used – or Indian instruments, which George had become more interested in, or the strings on Eleanor Rigby from Yesterday – their palette had just got big. Their capabilities had expanded to the extent where they could do anything.

Giles Martin – From MOJO November 2022

I think what happened was that we came down from the North, experienced London where quite experimental things were happening and we always thought the people back home would love to know this. So we felt like we were the megaphone. If it was happening to us and we like it, we should let them know, because they’re not here hanging out with the artists. It would be good to pass on the good news. I think that was one of the great values of what we did, we showed what we were going through to the world.

Paul McCartney – From “Revolver (2022)” book

Beatles wax next week?

The Beatles plan to record several new tracks next week, for their next single and for inclusion in their next LP.

From New Musical Express – April 1, 1966
From New Musical Express – April 1, 1966


THE Beatles’ follow-up to their last number one hit “We Can Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” — which jumped into the MM Pop 50 on December 18 and held the top spot for four weeks until January 8 — will be recorded at a two-day session in London next week.

The single — expected to be released in about six to eight weeks — will be selected from 15 songs that the Beatles have spent the past few weeks writing and rehearsing ready for the recording session immediately after Easter.

The remaining tracks after the single has been selected will be used on the Beatles’ next LP release — their successor to the best-selling “Rubber Soul” album, released on December 10 and containing 14 tracks, many of which have been covered — and made into hits — by other artists.

It’s virtually certain that as in the case of “Rubber Soul”, unusual instruments and in-strumental effects will be used on the new recording session.

No details of tracks were available at press time, however.

From Melody Maker – April 9, 1966
From Melody Maker – April 9, 1966

Below: That brilliant song team, PAUL McCARTNEY and JOHN LENNON, complete their second week of recording this weekend with the two other BEATLES, but still face another two weeks to finish their next single and LP.

From New Musical Express – April 22, 1966
From New Musical Express – April 22, 1966


AS it was not possible for them to travel to Memphis, the Beatles returned to E.M.l.’s Studios in St. John’s Wood during April to record songs for their new releases.

A present-day Beatle recording session is a far cry from the three-guitar-and-a-drum-kit era of “Love Me Do”. As soon as I opened the massive sound-proof studio door — making sure that the recording light was not glowing red outside — all I could see was a mass of instruments and equipment surrounded by a carpet of black cables, completely covering the floor between them.


Then I saw Paul behind orange-tinted glasses, thumbing away at his bass, and mouthing the words of the song which was being played back to him through earphones clamped around his head. John’s head, with dark glasses — he doesn’t like wearing contact lenses in the studio — was just visible over the top of a massive amplifier, whilst George in square glasses, stood halfhidden by one of the dark brown, canvas sound screens — working out a passage on his guitar.

One, Two, Three. Yes, only three Beatles at first, Ringo was a Nowhere Man when I arrived.

Nowadays the recording studio is definitely home for the Beatles. It is their song factory. A place where they all like to be. Where they can do what they want and play their music without worrying about crowds, autographs, flashbulbs, or how they look. They sit, happy as bees in a flower-bed, surrounded by two grand pianos, an upright, an electric piano, two organs, three massive sets of amplifiers, a drum kit, many, many acoustic and solid guitars intermingled with dozens of mirambas, cymbals, drum sticks, tom-toms, even an Indian tambura (very like a sitar) and a tabla (two little drums rather like tom-toms) to mention only about half of it. But what do they use it all for?


Many people think a hit record is a simple thing. Just a good tune, a good lyric and a nice arrangement. But this simple combination defeats 99% of the people who try to get it. The Beatles — rather John and Paul — have mastered the art of producing the right songs. In fact, they seem to have an inexhaustible supply of ideas, so they are over the first two hurdles.

When they start work in the studio, they already have a basic plan for each song. The drum pattern and vocal work have already been worked out.

There’s a boss in charge of each song. Although John and Paul finish most of their numbers together, the basic ideas are thought up by only one of them and it is that person who is in charge of the arrangement and becomes the “boss of that song” in the studio.


Once the outline arrangement has been finished, the “frilling bit” starts. This is where all that extra equipment comes into use. It enables the Beatles to search for different sounds at their leisure with an incredible choice of potential sounds available. And it is when they are searching that you can see their true recording brains going to work. Paul will say to George Martin that he thinks the middle of the song needs something like — and he will demonstrate by giving a fair imitation of a treble piano. Then he will suddenly dive for one of the pianos in the studio and show exactly what he means. This will be countered by something else from George Harrison from one corner of the Studio, or John from another on his guitar. This period of experimenting for sounds can go on for hours. Frequently, just the boss man and George Martin will keep searching whilst the others take a break. Finally, everyone gathers around the Beatle who has found the best phrase, fill in, or effect, and they all help in polishing it up until it fits the song.


Ringo, of course, works hard and offers suggestions during the time the basic tune is being worked out by all four Beatles. But, when this is finished, he tends to retire and leave the frill-bit to John, Paul and George. Unless, of course, they feel that the extra effect requires percussion, then Ringo comes into his own again. On this particular day, Ringo was busy behind a screen.

Beatle recordings are usually made of four track, with the result, that the lead vocal can be put on No. 1 track; the basic accompaniment, consisting of drums, organ, George on lead guitar and Paul on bass, on No. 2 track, leaving tracks 3 and 4 open for them to add those frills we’ve already mentioned.

Recording Manager, George Martin, gives advice constantly. He is a better piano and organ player than any of the Beatles, so if a keyboard passage is required, he’s elected to play. When I was there, Paul thought up a backing which needed both piano and organ. George Martin proceeded to do the impossible by playing each instrument alternately dashing the five yards between them in a race against time. He must be fit because he won too!

At the moment, the songs are on the secret list, but I can tell you that those I have heard are even more way out than those on Rubber Soul…………. which is saying something.

After I’d been at the studio for some time I found out that Ringo had been busy in the corner behind that screen…………. playing chess with Neil Aspinall their Road Manager.

From Beat Instrumental – May 1966
From Beat Instrumental – May 1966
From Beat Instrumental – July 1966

Last updated on November 17, 2023

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