"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 15, 1968 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline More from year 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Studio:
Trident Studios, London, UK

Master album


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About

From Wikipedia:

Recording

The Beatles was recorded between 30 May and 14 October 1968, largely at Abbey Road Studios in London, with some sessions at Trident Studios. The group block-booked time at Abbey Road through to July, and their times at Rishikesh were soon forgotten in the atmosphere of the studio, with sessions occurring at irregular hours. The group’s self-belief that they could do anything led to the formation of a new multimedia business corporation Apple Corps, an enterprise that drained the group financially with a series of unsuccessful projects. The open-ended studio time led to a new way of working out songs. Instead of tightly rehearsing a backing track, as had happened in previous sessions, the group would simply record all the rehearsals and jamming, then add overdubs to the best take. Harrison’s song “Not Guilty” was left off the album despite recording 102 takes.

The sessions for The Beatles marked the first appearance in the studio of Lennon’s new domestic and artistic partner, Yoko Ono, who accompanied him to Abbey Road to work on “Revolution 1” and who would thereafter be a more or less constant presence at all Beatles sessions. Ono’s presence was highly unorthodox, as prior to that point, the Beatles had generally worked in isolation. McCartney’s girlfriend at the time, Francie Schwartz, was also present at some sessions, as were the other two Beatles’ wives, Pattie Harrison and Maureen Starkey.

During the sessions, the band upgraded from 4-track recording to 8-track. As work began, Abbey Road Studios possessed, but had yet to install, an 8-track machine that had supposedly been sitting in a storage room for months. This was in accordance with EMI’s policy of testing and customising new gear extensively before putting it into use in the studios. The Beatles recorded “Hey Jude” and “Dear Prudence” at Trident because it had an 8-track recorder. When they learned that EMI also had one, they insisted on using it, and engineers Ken Scott and Dave Harries took the machine (without authorisation from the studio chiefs) into Abbey Road Studio 2 for the band’s use.

The author Mark Lewisohn reports that the Beatles held their first and only 24-hour session at Abbey Road near the end of the creation of The Beatles, which occurred during the final mixing and sequencing for the album. The session was attended by Lennon, McCartney and producer George Martin. Unlike most LPs, there was no customary three-second gap between tracks, and the master was edited so that songs segued together, via a straight edit, a crossfade, or an incidental piece of music.

Personal issues

The studio efforts on The Beatles captured the work of four increasingly individuated artists who frequently found themselves at odds. Lewisohn notes that several backing tracks do not feature the full group, and overdubs tended to be limited to whoever wrote the song. Sometimes McCartney and Lennon would record simultaneously in different studios, each using different engineers. Late in the sessions, Martin, whose influence over the band had waned, spontaneously left to go on holiday, leaving Chris Thomas in charge of production. Lennon’s devotion to Ono over the other Beatles, and the pair’s addiction to heroin, made working conditions difficult as he became prone to bouts of temper.

Recording engineer Geoff Emerick, who had worked with the group since Revolver in 1966, had become disillusioned with the sessions. At one point, while recording “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da“, Emerick overheard Martin criticising McCartney’s lead vocal performance, to which McCartney replied, “Well you come down and sing it“. On 16 July, Emerick announced that he was no longer willing to work with them and left.

Within the band, according to the author Peter Doggett, “the most essential line of communication … between Lennon and McCartney” had been broken by Ono’s presence on the first day of recording. While echoing this view, Beatles biographer Philip Norman comments that, from the start, each of the group’s two principal songwriters shared a mutual disregard for the other’s new compositions: Lennon found McCartney’s songs “cloyingly sweet and bland“, while McCartney viewed Lennon’s as “harsh, unmelodious and deliberately provocative“. In a move that Lewisohn highlights as unprecedented in the Beatles’ recording career, Harrison and Starr chose to distance themselves part-way through the project, flying to California on 7 June so that Harrison could film his scenes for the Ravi Shankar documentary Raga. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison’s involvement in individual musical projects outside the band during 1968 was further evidence of the group’s fragmentation. In Lennon’s case, the cover of his experimental collaboration with Ono, Two Virgins, featured the couple fully naked – a gesture that his bandmates found bewildering and unnecessary.

On 20 August, Lennon and Starr, working on overdubs for “Yer Blues” in Studio 3, visited McCartney in Studio 2, where he was working on “Mother Nature’s Son“. The positive spirit of the session disappeared immediately, and the engineer Ken Scott later claimed: “you could cut the atmosphere with a knife“. On 22 August, during the session for “Back in the U.S.S.R.“, Starr abruptly left the studio, feeling that his role in the group was peripheral compared to the other members, and was upset at McCartney’s constant criticism of his drumming on the track. Abbey Road staff later commented that Starr frequently turned up to the sessions and sat waiting in the reception area for the others to turn up. In his absence, McCartney played the drums on “Dear Prudence“. Lewisohn also reports that, in the case of “Back in the U.S.S.R.“, the three remaining Beatles each made contributions on bass and drums, with the result that those parts may be composite tracks played by Lennon, McCartney or Harrison.

Lennon, McCartney and Harrison pleaded with Starr to reconsider. He duly returned on 5 September to find his drum kit decorated with flowers, a welcome-back gesture from Harrison. McCartney described the sessions for The Beatles as a turning point for the group, saying “there was a lot of friction during that album. We were just about to break up, and that was tense in itself“, while Lennon later said “the break-up of the Beatles can be heard on that album“. Of the album’s 30 tracks, only 16 have all four band members performing.

From Facebook – October 1968 – Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)

Last updated on August 29, 2021

Related sessions


Tape copying "Yer Blues", "Don't Pass Me By"

Oct 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)



Mixing "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", "I'm So Tired", "Cry Baby Cry"

Oct 15, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)









Mixing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", recording "Long Long Long"

Oct 07, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)



Recording "Martha My Dear", "Honey Pie"

Oct 04, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Savoy Truffle"

Oct 03, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Honey Pie"

Oct 02, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording and mixing "Honey Pie"

Oct 01, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)



Recording and mixing "Happiness Is A Warm Gun"

Sep 25, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Happiness Is A Warm Gun"

Sep 24, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Happiness Is A Warm Gun"

Sep 23, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Piggies"

Sep 20, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Piggies"

Sep 19, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording and mixing "Birthday"

Sep 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Mixing "Helter Skelter", recording "I Will", "Cry Baby Cry"

Sep 17, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "I Will", "Glass Onion"

Sep 16, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Glass Onion"

Sep 13, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Glass Onion"

Sep 12, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Glass Onion"

Sep 11, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Helter Skelter"

Sep 10, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Helter Skelter"

Sep 09, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Sep 06, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Sep 05, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Sep 03, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Dear Prudence"

Aug 30, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Dear Prudence"

Aug 29, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Dear Prudence"

Aug 28, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Tape copying "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", "Blackbird", "Not Guilty", "Revolution 9"

Aug 27, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Tape copying "Revolution 9"

Aug 26, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording and mixing "Back In The U.S.S.R."

Aug 23, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Back In The U.S.S.R."

Aug 22, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording and mixing "Sexy Sadie"

Aug 21, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)



Recording "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Aug 16, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording and mixing "Rocky Raccoon"

Aug 15, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)



Recording "Sexy Sadie", "Yer Blues"

Aug 13, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording and mixing "Not Guilty"

Aug 12, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Anthology 3


Recording "Not Guilty", "Mother Nature's Son"

Aug 09, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Anthology 3


Mixing "Hey Jude", recording "Not Guilty"

Aug 08, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Anthology 3


Recording "Not Guilty"

Aug 07, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Anthology 3


Mixing "Hey Jude"

Aug 06, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Mixing "Hey Jude"

Aug 02, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Recording "Hey Jude"

Aug 01, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Recording "Hey Jude"

Jul 31, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Recording and mixing "Hey Jude"

Jul 30, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Recording "Hey Jude"

Jul 29, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Recording "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Jul 25, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Sexy Sadie"

Jul 24, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)



Recording "Don't Pass Me By", "Good Night"

Jul 22, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Sexy Sadie"

Jul 19, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Cry Baby Cry", "Helter Skelter"

Jul 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Cry Baby Cry"

Jul 16, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)




Recording "Revolution", recording and mixing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Jul 11, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution"

Jul 10, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Hey Jude / Revolution


Recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Jul 09, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Jul 08, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Jul 05, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Jul 04, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Jul 03, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Good Night"

Jul 02, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"

Jul 01, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Good Night"

Jun 28, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"

Jun 27, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"

Jun 26, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Mixing "Revolution 1", "Revolution 9"

Jun 25, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution 1", "Revolution 9"

Jun 21, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution 9"

Jun 20, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Blackbird", "Revolution 9"

Jun 11, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution 9"

Jun 10, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Don't Pass Me By"

Jun 06, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Don't Pass Me By"

Jun 05, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution 1"

Jun 04, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution 1"

May 31, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)


Recording "Revolution 1"

May 30, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)

Songs recorded




3.

Creation of tape loops

Jun 04, 1968Recording "Revolution 1"
















18.



20.


21.

Try-outs of spoken introduction

Jul 02, 1968Recording "Good Night"









29.













41.

Brian Epstein Blues

Jul 19, 1968Recording "Sexy Sadie"


42.


43.







49.


50.

Untitled

Jul 24, 1968Recording "Sexy Sadie"



52.

Hey Jude

Jul 29, 1968Recording "Hey Jude"





56.

Hey Jude

Jul 31, 1968Recording "Hey Jude"


57.

Hey Jude

Aug 01, 1968Recording "Hey Jude"


58.

Hey Jude

Aug 02, 1968Mixing "Hey Jude"


59.

Hey Jude

Aug 06, 1968Mixing "Hey Jude"


60.


61.












































104.


105.


106.












117.

Let It Be

Sep 19, 1968Recording "Piggies"


118.

Piggies

Sep 19, 1968Recording "Piggies"


119.

Something

Sep 19, 1968Recording "Piggies"


120.

Piggies

Sep 20, 1968Recording "Piggies"










129.






















































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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