"Vega-Tables" session with The Beach Boys

Monday, April 10, 1967 • For The Beach Boys
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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Although the recording of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album was unfinished, Paul decided to take a ten-day break in the United States to surprise his girlfriend Jane Asher on her 21st birthday. The trip, which lasted from April 3 to April 11, 1967, was accompanied by Mal Evans.

On April 9, Paul and Mal travelled from Denver (where they had spent a few days with Jane) to Los Angeles, where they spent a couple of days.

On April 10, they went shopping before paying a visit to John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas. After a while, Paul left alone to join The Beach Boys at their recording session where he was recorded chewing vegetables for the song “Vega-Tables“, for their upcoming album “Smile“. He also played the guitar on an unrecorded rendition of the traditional song “On Top Of Old Smokey“.

Asked about his involvement in a 2001 interview, Paul said he had no memory of chomping vegetables at that session:

Brian Wilson: When he walked in, he had these beautiful patent leather shoes and a white suit… He looked so cool you know and we said “you want some vegetables?” We were cutting a song called “Vegetables”, we were all chewing on vegetables just to get the mood, and he started chewing on a carrot…

Paul McCartney: [Laugh] I don’t know, there might have been substances involved, it might have happened, I don’t know. I don’t remember it all, I must say, particularly some of those dark nights in LA… You know, you just sometimes would fall out of a car into a room, it would be very dark and I’m not sure if I remember it… I did visit a couple of those sessions but I don’t remember eating veggie, but I’m sure I might have.

From “McCartney” documentary by Robin Bextor, 2001

But in 2016, he offered a specific recollection:

Hi Paul, we’ve heard a story about you appearing on a Beach Boys song ‘playing’ a stick of celery. Is that true?

Yeah, that is true, yeah! I mean it was wild and wacky days, you know, and I just went round to the studio because they invited me. I just thought it would be fun to sit there and watch them record, ’cause I’m a big fan. And so I was there, and then it was, I think, Brian who came over and said, ‘Oh Paul, got a favour to ask: would you mind recording something?’ I thought, ‘Oh, no! But great, I could do that’. Oh God, I’m gonna be singing on a Beach Boys record or something, you know! I got a bit kind of intimidated and thought, ‘Okay, here goes nothing’. And they said, ‘Well, what we want you to do is go in there and just munch!’ …Well, I can do that! So, if you hear somebody munching celery, that’s me!”

Paul McCartney – From meatfreemondays.com, December 2016

Other participants in the session did remember Paul’s contribution:

The night before a big tour, I was out in the studio recording the vocal [for “Vegetables”] when, to my surprise, Paul McCartney walked in and joined Brian at the console. And, briefly, the two most influential musical Geminis in the world had a chance to work together.

Al Jardine – From the liner notes of “Smiley Smile / Wild Honey”

Paul came to the Vega-Tables session. Brian had some fresh vegetables out, for the mood. He sprinkled salt all over the console table near the mixing board and started dipping celery into the salt and chomping on it. Paul followed his lead and picked up the celery and did the same thing. It was priceless to see this.

Marilyn Wilson – first wife of Brian Wilson – From the liner notes of “The Smile Sessions (deluxe box”, Capitol Records, 2011

[…] Musical whims, as in Vega-Tables, where we had Paul McCartney come to the studio and crunch carrots with us. Paul even played the piano for me that night. I will never forget his white suit and red patent leather loafers.

Diane Rovell – Brian Wilson’s sister-in-law – From the liner notes of “The Smile Sessions (deluxe box”, Capitol Records, 2011

I was at the Beach Boys session for “Vega-Tables”, and Paul McCartney was there. We were in a booth, and we were supposed to shout out the names of vegetables. I was a young, punk kid at the time, and I shouted out ‘TV dinners!’ I didn’t know …

Rodney Bingenheimer – KROQ disck jockey – From “Smile : the story of Brian Wilson’s lost masterpiece“, 2007

It’s however unclear if Paul’s contribution was recorded. From Wikipedia:

On the existing tapes for these sessions, McCartney’s presence cannot be verified, and it is unclear if any record of his performance has survived. Archivist Craig Slowinski, who assembled the sessionography included with The Smile Sessions box set, stated: “I was ready to credit Sir Paul with ‘veggie munching’ … but since no tapes were found with his voice or reference to him, we figured I’d better not. Too hard to say that any veggie munching on his part remained on tape through the final stages of production.” Sessions co-producer Mark Linett explained: “Unless Paul is being very quiet, there’s no evidence that he’s a part of the chomping. And there’s quite a lot of discussion going on while that particular track is being recorded.

At some point in the session, Paul sit down and played “She’s Leaving Home“, which would be released a few months later on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. He also played an acetate of “A Day In The Life“, also to be released on “Sgt. Pepper“.

[Paul] came in with Derek Taylor to a studio that we were in one night in 1967, and it was on that night that he played for my wife and I “She’s leaving home”. My wife cried and everyone was in tears, you know…

Brian Wilson – From “McCartney” documentary by Robin Bextor, 2001

Brian Wilson is reported to have heard the Beatles LP track “A Day In The Life Of”, and to be so knocked out that he has retired to live in a sauna bath, there to sweat out some more mind-jamming material for further Beach Boys discs.

From New Musical Express- Quoted in “Smile : the story of Brian Wilson’s lost masterpiece“, 2007

I remember waiting for long periods of time between takes to get to the next section or verse. Brian [seemed to have] lost track of the session. Paul would come on the talkback and say something like “Good take, Al.” Later, while I stayed in the booth listening to [my vocal work on] ‘Vegetables,’ Paul played the spectacular ‘A Day In The Life’ (from the as yet unreleased Sgt. Pepper LP). I’ll always regret [missing] that.”

Al Jardine – From the liner notes of “Smiley Smile / Wild Honey”

In the early hours of April 11, Paul left the session with Brian Wilson and went back to John and Michelle Phillips’ house, where they played some music together

Paul McCartney would chew more vegetables for The Super Furry Animals’ 2002 album “Rings Around The World“.

From Disc And Music Echo – April 22, 1967
From Cashbox – September 16, 1967

Last updated on March 2, 2024

Songs recorded



On Top of Old Smokey

Written by Traditional




Paul McCartney:
Vegetable munching
Brian Wilson:
Vegetable munching
Al Jardine:
Performed by

Going further

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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