"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 18, 1968 • For The Beatles

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

Songs recorded


Creation of tape loops

Jun 04, 1968Recording "Revolution 1"




Try-outs of spoken introduction

Jul 02, 1968Recording "Good Night"



Brian Epstein Blues

Jul 19, 1968Recording "Sexy Sadie"






Jul 24, 1968Recording "Sexy Sadie"


Hey Jude

Jul 29, 1968Recording "Hey Jude"


Hey Jude

Jul 31, 1968Recording "Hey Jude"


Hey Jude

Aug 01, 1968Recording "Hey Jude"


Hey Jude

Aug 02, 1968Mixing "Hey Jude"


Hey Jude

Aug 06, 1968Mixing "Hey Jude"







Let It Be

Sep 19, 1968Recording "Piggies"



Sep 19, 1968Recording "Piggies"



Sep 19, 1968Recording "Piggies"



Sep 20, 1968Recording "Piggies"



After a 3 months break from the recording studios, a trip to India where most of the new material was written, and a day of rehearsals at the end of May, The Beatles were back at EMI Studios to start the recording of their new album, which would officially be named “The Beatles” and unofficially called the White Album.

The studio had been booked from May 20 to July 26, Mondays to Fridays, from 2.30pm to 12.00pm each day. But the opening session was on May 30.

From Wikipedia:


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 September 19, 2021

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