Recording "When I'm Sixty Four"

Tuesday, December 20, 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 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono) LP.
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

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On December 6, 1966, The Beatles recorded the rhythm track for Paul McCartney’s song “When I’m Sixty-Four“. On December 8, Paul completed the lead vocals. In subsequent recording sessions, The Beatles returned to working on John Lennon’s track “Strawberry Field Forever“, but eventually return to “When I’m Sixty-Four” during this 7 pm – 1 am session.

Three tracks of the four-track tape had been filled by the end of the previous session. On this day, onto the fourth, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison added backing vocals while Ringo Starr played chimes.

One of the last, and unusual, additions to ‘When I’m SixtyFour’ was the sound of chimes. Abbey Road studios always had a collection of percussion instruments lying around, and Ringo could not stop himself having a go at them.

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

As all the tracks of the four-track tape were now full, two tape reductions were made to free up some tracks. The second one, named Take 4, was considered the best. The bass, drums, piano and guitars were combined into one track, leaving space for the clarinet overdub recorded on the following day.

As they arrived at Abbey Road Studios for a recording session, each Beatle was briefly interviewed by ITN for a documentary which was broadcast on December 29, 1966.

Last updated on November 5, 2023

Songs recorded


When I'm Sixty-Four

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 2


When I'm Sixty-Four

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 2 into take 3


When I'm Sixty-Four

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 2 into take 4


Musicians on "When I'm Sixty-Four"

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals
Ringo Starr:
John Lennon:
Backing vocals
George Harrison:
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!

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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.

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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.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


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