The Paul McCartney Project

The Beatles’ first Abbey Road recording session

Jun 06, 1962 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Anthology 1 Official album.
Timeline See what happened in 1962
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

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Songs recorded


1.

Besame Mucho

Written by Consuelo Velázquez

Recording • Unknown number of takes

Album Officially appears on Anthology 1


2.

Love Me Do

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Unknown number of takes

Album Officially appears on Anthology 1


3.

P.S. I Love You

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Unknown number of takes. Tapes destroyed.

Unreleased track


4.

Ask Me Why

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Unknown number of takes. Tapes destroyed.

Unreleased track

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!

Staff

Musicians

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
John Lennon:
Harmonica, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Guitar, Backing vocals
Pete Best:
Drums

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Balance Engineer
Ron Richards:
Producer
Ken Townsend:
Tape operator
Chris Neal:
2nd engineer

About

From Wikipedia:

After the Decca audition recordings came to the attention of EMI managers through the efforts of the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, a recording contract was executed between Epstein and EMI’s Parlophone record label. EMI would record a minimum of six single “sides” and the agreement would start on 6 June 1962, expiring a year later, but renewable. After the contract was signed, Parlophone record producer George Martin gave the Beatles an audition at EMI Studios in London, to assess their musical quality and respective vocal talents. The audition, held on 6 June, also acted as their first EMI recording session. They performed in Studio 2, the studio in which they would record most of their music. Because none of the recordings was considered worthy of release, the session tapes were destroyed per standard protocol; however, at least two mono recordings have since been discovered. Most documentation from the session has also been destroyed; however, it is known that four songs were recorded in an unknown amount of takes. Martin was not satisfied with Best’s drumming, and Epstein and the other Beatles soon dismissed him from the group. This session was Best’s only recording session at EMI before he was replaced with Ringo Starr.

Interview with Ken Townsend, June 6th 2013:

What was your first impression of the Beatles? – ‏@manyreasonsy, via Twitter

Simple amazement, because I had never seen anything like them before.

Did the band seem to take to the studio quickly or were they very obviously “green?” – Josh Katz, via Facebook

Like a duck to water. They had auditions at Decca and elsewhere and been totally rejected, so it was not their very first time in a professional studio.

Which Beatle was the most nervous and which was the least? The studio can be intimidating the first couple of goes round! – Matthew Loman, via Facebook

They showed no external signs of nerves, in fact the opposite. Their sense of humour was similar to mine – constantly wise cracking.

They looked just like four peas in a pod and I could not tell one from the other for some while, except for Ringo when he took over from Pete Best on the 4th September session.

Which song sounded best on that session? – ‏@manyreasonsy, via Twitter

In hindsight, it was a toss-up between Love Me Do and Ask Me Why (as you have done). What fascinated me was that none of the lyrics seemed to include words of more than four letters.

Did you have any problems when recording [the first Beatles] session? – @VramaW, via Twitter

After running through the songs, it was obvious we were getting distortion from the bass guitar. Norman Smith tried the usual remedy of reducing the level in the studio and cranking it up on the mixer, but to no avail. George Martin said if we could not find a solution, then he might have to abandon the session.

We were strictly forbidden from tampering with artist’s guitar amps due to reports of electrocution of performers on stage, and the studio had no such equipment. I suggested a possible alternative of getting the large Tannoy speaker from Echo Chamber One and driving it with a Leak TL12 power Amp I had upstairs, which I was taking to Rome later that month for an operatic recording.

So while Tape Op Chris Neal and George Martin went to the canteen for a cuppa with the lads, Norman and myself carried this speaker to the studio and I then wired a jack socket onto the input of the leak pre-amp. By some miracle it worked, but I often reflect on what might have happened without this brainwave.

Did you ever feel at that time that the band would go on to become what they are now? – Nishant Shukul, via Facebook

Nobody in the whole wide world could have forecast what was to follow, as it had never happened before. Some artists such as Johnny Ray had received huge adulation from their fans, but the Beatles’ rise to fame across the globe was meteoric and unprecedented. I doubt it will ever be repeated.

Did the session feel magical at the time or only in hindsight? – @Notebookscrawla, via Twitter

Immediately after the session, I could not stop talking about them to my family and friends. This was most unusual, as we were working at Abbey Road with the greatest recording artists in the world on a daily basis and rarely mentioned them unless asked. I was to a degree infatuated by them.

Last updated on September 13, 2015


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