Recording "The Fool On The Hill"

Tuesday, September 26, 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

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About

The previous day, September 25, 1967, The Beatles began recording “The Fool On The Hill“, but on this day, they decided to start a remake. This day’s session began at 7 pm and concluded at 4:15 am, with producer George Martin unavailable and engineer Ken Scott taking over, despite only being his second day as a Beatles engineer.

He was so nervous that it was just unbelievable. He was saying ‘What lights do I use?’ and ‘What do I do?’ I really felt for him that day. The Beatles always put a bit of pressure on their engineers; they expected you to be there doing your job but there wasn’t a lot of thanks.

Richard Lush – Second engineer – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn, 1988

The new backing track, called Take 5, featured Paul McCartney on piano, John Lennon on acoustic guitar, George Harrison on maracas, and Ringo Starr on drums. Later, overdubs were added, with John playing piano, Paul on recorder and Ringo adding finger cymbals.

A reduction mix – named Take 6 – was then created to free up three tracks.

A reduction mix named Take 6 was created to free up three tracks, and additional overdubs were made with John and George contributing harmonicas, and Paul on bass. While Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues stated that he and Mike Pinder contributed to the harmonicas, it remains unclear if this happened during this session or on September 25.

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

As nice as they could be on the one hand, The Beatles could also be real arseholes on the other. […] We were recording the harmonicas for “Fool on the Hill” and the band had sent out for food. When it finally arrived, they just sat down in the studio eating by themselves and never offered myself or second engineer Richard Lush anything, and I was starving. Richard had already gone through all of this as he’d been the second engineer for the majority of Sgt. Pepper’s and Revolver, so he knew what they were like during this period. I turned around to him and asked, “What the hell do we do?” Richard calmly replied, “It’s easy. We get up and we go!” and leans over and pushes the talkback button and says, “OK, guys. We’ll be back in an hour. We’re just going to get something to eat. 0K?” The band waved and cheerfully replied, “Yeah, OK.” I was petrified because I’d never had to do that before and didn’t quite yet know that it was perfectly fine to actually take a break from working with the greatest band in the world. But it was that easy; you just walk out on them.

Ken Scott – Engineer – From “Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust : off the record with the Beatles, Bowie, Elton & so much more“, 2012

Next, Paul recorded his lead vocals and a double-tracked recorder part. A tape featuring a flourish of slowed-down guitars was also added, heard immediately after the final line: “And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.

Work on “The Fool On The Hill” continued on the following day, September 27, with some vocal adjustments, and was completed on October 20, 1967, with the addition of three flute parts.

Last updated on April 14, 2023

Songs recorded


1.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 4 into take 5


2.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 5


3.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 5 into take 6


4.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 6

Staff

Musicians on "The Fool On The Hill"

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

Production staff

Ken Scott:
Engineer
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!

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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