A Day In The Life

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967

Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“A Day in the Life” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as the final track of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, the opening and closing sections of the song were mainly written by John Lennon, with Paul McCartney primarily contributing the song’s middle section. All four Beatles played a role in shaping the final arrangement of the song.

Lennon’s lyrics were mainly inspired by contemporary newspaper articles, including a report on the death of Guinness heir Tara Browne. The recording includes two passages of orchestral glissandos that were partly improvised in the avant-garde style. In the song’s middle segment, McCartney recalls his younger years, which included riding the bus, smoking, and going to class. Following the second crescendo, the song ends with one of the most famous chords in music history, played on several keyboards, that sustains for over forty seconds.

A reputed drug reference in the line “I’d love to turn you on” resulted in the song initially being banned from broadcast by the BBC. Jeff Beck, Barry Gibb, the Fall and Phish are among the artists who have covered the song. The song inspired the creation of the Deep Note, the audio trademark for the THX film company. It remains one of the most celebrated songs in music history, appearing on many lists of the greatest songs of all time, and being commonly appraised as the Beatles’ finest song.

Background

John Lennon wrote the melody and most of the lyrics to the verses of “A Day in the Life” in mid-January 1967. Soon afterwards, he presented the song to Paul McCartney, who contributed a middle-eight section. According to Lennon, McCartney also contributed the pivotal line “I’d love to turn you on.” In a 1970 interview, Lennon discussed their collaboration on the song:

Paul and I were definitely working together, especially on “A Day in the Life” … The way we wrote a lot of the time: you’d write the good bit, the part that was easy, like “I read the news today” or whatever it was, then when you got stuck or whenever it got hard, instead of carrying on, you just drop it; then we would meet each other, and I would sing half, and he would be inspired to write the next bit and vice versa. He was a bit shy about it because I think he thought it’s already a good song … So we were doing it in his room with the piano. He said “Should we do this?” “Yeah, let’s do that.”

The song is an example of the mutual inspiration that often occurred within the Lennon-McCartney partnership. As stated by Lennon in 1968, “It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on, because now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said ‘yeah’ – bang bang, like that.”

According to author Ian MacDonald, “A Day in the Life” was strongly informed by Lennon’s LSD-inspired revelations, in that the song “concerned ‘reality’ only to the extent that this had been revealed by LSD to be largely in the eye of the beholder”. Having long resisted Lennon and George Harrison’s insistence that he join them and Ringo Starr in trying LSD, McCartney took it for the first time in late 1966. This experience contributed to the Beatles’ willingness to experiment on Sgt. Pepper and to Lennon and McCartney returning to a level of collaboration that had been somewhat absent.

LyricsTara Browne

Music critic Tim Riley says that in “A Day in the Life”, Lennon uses the same lyrical device introduced in “Strawberry Fields Forever“, whereby free-form lyrics allow a greater freedom of expression and create a “supernatural calm”. According to Lennon, the inspiration for the first two verses was the death of Tara Browne, the 21-year-old heir to the Guinness fortune who had crashed his car on 18 December 1966. Browne was a friend of Lennon and McCartney, and had instigated McCartney’s first experience with LSD. Lennon adapted the song’s verse lyrics from a story in the 17 January 1967 edition of the Daily Mail, which reported the ruling on a custody action over Browne’s two young children.

During a writing session at McCartney’s house in north London, Lennon and McCartney fine-tuned the lyrics, using an approach that author Howard Sounes likens to the cut-up technique popularised by William S. Burroughs. “I didn’t copy the accident,” Lennon said. “Tara didn’t blow his mind out, but it was in my mind when I was writing that verse. The details of the accident in the song – not noticing traffic lights and a crowd forming at the scene – were similarly part of the fiction.” In 1997, McCartney expounded on the subject: “The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don’t believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John’s head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who’d stopped at some traffic lights and didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The ‘blew his mind’ was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.” But in 2021, McCartney recalled the inspiration for this part of the composition as follows: “That was around this same time, when I was twenty-something and going out on the moped from my dad’s house to Betty’s house. I was taking a friend, Tara Guinness. He died later in a car accident. He was a nice boy. I wrote about him in ‘A Day in the Life’: ‘He blew his mind out in a car / He didn’t notice that the lights had changed’.”

Lyrics“4,000 holes”

Lennon wrote the song’s final verse inspired by a Far & Near news brief, in the same 17 January edition of the Daily Mail that had inspired the first two verses. Under the headline “The holes in our roads”, the brief stated: “There are 4,000 holes in the road in Blackburn, Lancashire, or one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey. If Blackburn is typical, there are two million holes in Britain’s roads and 300,000 in London.”

The story had been sold to the Daily Mail in Manchester by Ron Kennedy of the Star News agency in Blackburn. Kennedy had noticed a Lancashire Evening Telegraph story about road excavations and in a telephone call to the Borough Engineer’s department had checked the annual number of holes in the road. Lennon had a problem with the words of the final verse, however, not being able to think of how to connect “Now they know how many holes it takes to” and “the Albert Hall”. His friend Terry Doran suggested that the holes would “fill” the Albert Hall, and the lyric was eventually used.

LyricsDrug culture

McCartney said about the line “I’d love to turn you on”, which concludes both verse sections: “This was the time of Tim Leary’s ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ and we wrote, ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ John and I gave each other a knowing look: ‘Uh-huh, it’s a drug song. You know that, don’t you?'” George Martin, the Beatles’ producer, commented that he had always suspected that the line “found my way upstairs and had a smoke” was a drug reference, recalling how the Beatles would “disappear and have a little puff”, presumably of marijuana, but not in front of him. “When [Martin] was doing his TV programme on Pepper”, McCartney recalled later, “he asked me, ‘Do you know what caused Pepper?’ I said, ‘In one word, George, drugs. Pot.’ And George said, ‘No, no. But you weren’t on it all the time.’ ‘Yes, we were.’ Sgt. Pepper was a drug album.”

LyricsOther reference points

Author Neil Sinyard attributed the third-verse line “The English Army had just won the war” to Lennon’s role in the film How I Won the War, which he had filmed during September and October 1966. Sinyard said: “It’s hard to think of [the verse] without automatically associating it with Richard Lester’s film.”

The middle-eight provided by McCartney was written as a wistful recollection of his younger years, which included riding the 82 bus to school, smoking, and going to class. This theme – the Beatles’ youth in Liverpool – matched that of “Penny Lane” (named after the street in Liverpool) and “Strawberry Fields Forever” (named after the orphanage near Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool), two songs written for the album but instead released as a double A-side.

Musical structure and developmentBasic track

The Beatles began recording the song, with a working title of “In the Life of …”, at EMI’s Studio Two on 19 January 1967. The line-up as they rehearsed the track was Lennon on piano, McCartney on Hammond organ, Harrison on acoustic guitar, and Starr on congas. The band then taped four takes of the rhythm track, by which point Lennon had switched to acoustic guitar and McCartney to piano, with Harrison now playing maracas.

As a link between the end of the second verse and the start of McCartney’s middle-eight, the band included a 24-bar bridge. At first, the Beatles were not sure how to fill this link section. At the conclusion of the session on 19 January, the transition consisted of a simple repeated piano chord and the voice of assistant Mal Evans counting out the bars. Evans’ voice was treated with gradually increasing amounts of echo. The 24-bar bridge ended with the sound of an alarm clock triggered by Evans. Although the original intent was to edit out the ringing alarm clock when the section was filled in, it complemented McCartney’s piece – which begins with the line “Woke up, fell out of bed” – so the decision was made to keep the sound. A second transition follows McCartney’s final line of the middle eight (“I went into a dream”) consisting of vocalised “aah”s that link to the song’s final verse. (Accounts differ as to which of the Beatles sang it.)

The track was refined with remixing and additional parts added on 20 January and 3 February. During the latter session, McCartney and Starr re-recorded their contributions on bass guitar and drums, respectively. Starr later highlighted his fills on the song as typical of an approach whereby “I try to become an instrument; play the mood of the song. For example, ‘Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire,’ – boom ba bom. I try to show that; the disenchanting mood.” As on the 1966 track “Rain“, music journalist Ben Edmonds recognises Starr’s playing as reflective of his empathy with Lennon’s songwriting. In Edmonds’ description, the drumming on “A Day in the Life” “embod[ies] psychedelic drift – mysterious, surprising, without losing sight of its rhythmic role”.

Musical structure and developmentOrchestra

The orchestral portions of “A Day in the Life” reflect Lennon and McCartney’s interest in the work of avant-garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and John Cage. To fill the empty 24-bar middle section, Lennon’s request to George Martin was that the orchestra should provide “a tremendous build-up, from nothing up to something absolutely like the end of the world”. McCartney suggested having the musicians improvise over the segment. To allay concerns that classically trained musicians would be unable to do this, Martin wrote a loose score for the section. Using the rhythm implied by Lennon’s staggered intonation on the words “turn you on”, the score was an extended, atonal crescendo that encouraged the musicians to improvise within the defined framework. The orchestral part was recorded on 10 February 1967 in Studio One at EMI Studios, with Martin and McCartney conducting a 40-piece orchestra. The recording session was completed at a total cost of £367 (equivalent to £7,087 in 2021) for the players, an extravagance at the time. Martin later described explaining his score to the puzzled orchestra:

What I did there was to write … the lowest possible note for each of the instruments in the orchestra. At the end of the twenty-four bars, I wrote the highest note … near a chord of E major. Then I put a squiggly line right through the twenty-four bars, with reference points to tell them roughly what note they should have reached during each bar … Of course, they all looked at me as though I were completely mad.

McCartney had originally wanted a 90-piece orchestra, but this proved impossible. Instead, the semi-improvised segment was recorded multiple times, filling a separate four-track tape machine, and the four different recordings were overdubbed into a single massive crescendo. The results were successful; in the final edit of the song, the orchestral bridge is reprised after the final verse.

The Beatles hosted the orchestral session as a 1960s-style happening, with guests including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Donovan, Pattie Boyd, Michael Nesmith, and members of the psychedelic design collective The Fool. Overseen by Tony Bramwell of NEMS Enterprises, the event was filmed for use in a projected television special that never materialised. Reflecting the Beatles’ taste for experimentation and the avant garde, the orchestra players were asked to wear formal dress and then given a costume piece as a contrast with this attire. This resulted in different players wearing anything from fake noses to fake stick-on nipples. Martin recalled that the lead violinist performed wearing a gorilla paw, while a bassoon player placed a balloon on the end of his instrument.

At the end of the night, the four Beatles and some of their guests overdubbed an extended humming sound to close the song – an idea that they later discarded. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, the tapes from this 10 February orchestral session reveal the guests breaking into loud applause following the second orchestral passage. Among the EMI staff attending the event, one recalled how Ron Richards, the Hollies’ producer, was stunned by the music he had heard; in Lewisohn’s description, Richards “[sat] with his head in his hands, saying ‘I just can’t believe it … I give up.'” Martin later offered his own opinion of the orchestral session: “part of me said ‘We’re being a bit self-indulgent here.’ The other part of me said ‘It’s bloody marvellous!'”

Musical structure and developmentFinal chord

Following the final orchestral crescendo, the song ends with one of the most famous final chords in music history. Overdubbed in place of the vocal experiment from 10 February, this chord was added during a session at EMI’s Studio Two on 22 February. Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Evans shared three different pianos, with Martin on a harmonium, and all played an E-major chord simultaneously. The chord was made to ring out for over forty seconds by increasing the recording sound level as the vibration faded out. Towards the end of the chord the recording level was so high that listeners can hear the sounds of the studio, including rustling papers and a squeaking chair. In author Jonathan Gould’s commentary on “A Day in the Life”, he describes the final chord as “a forty-second meditation on finality that leaves each member of the audience listening with a new kind of attention and awareness to the sound of nothing at all”.

One of the first outsiders to hear the completed recording was the Byrds’ David Crosby when he visited the Beatles during their 24 February overdubbing session for “Lovely Rita“. He recalled his reaction to the song: “Man, I was a dish-rag. I was floored. It took me several minutes to be able to talk after that.” Due to the multiple takes required to perfect the orchestral cacophony and the final chord, the total time spent recording “A Day in the Life” was 34 hours. By contrast, the Beatles’ debut album, Please Please Me, had been recorded in its entirety in only 15 hours, 45 minutes.

Musical structure and developmentHigh-pitched tone and run-out groove

Following “A Day in the Life” on the Sgt. Pepper album (as first released on LP in the UK and years later worldwide on CD) is a high-frequency 15-kilohertz tone and some randomly spliced studio chatter. The tone is the same pitch as a dog whistle, at the upper limit of human hearing, but within the range that dogs and cats can hear. This addition was part of the Beatles’ humour and was suggested by Lennon. The studio babble, titled in the session notes “Edit for LP End” and recorded on 21 April 1967, two months after the mono and stereo masters for “A Day in the Life” had been finalised, was added to the run-out groove of the initial British pressing. The two or three seconds of gibberish looped back into itself endlessly on any record player not equipped with an automatic phonograph arm return. Some listeners discerned words among the vocal gibberish, including Lennon saying “Been so high”, followed by McCartney’s response: “Never could be any other way.” US copies of the album lacked the high-pitched tone and the studio babble.

Variations

On the Sgt. Pepper album, the start of “A Day in the Life” is cross-faded with the applause at the end of the previous track, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)“. On the Beatles’ 1967–1970 compilation LP, the crossfade is cut off, and the track begins abruptly after the start of the original recording, but on the soundtrack album Imagine: John Lennon and the CD versions of 1967–1970, the song starts cleanly, with no applause effects.

The Anthology 2 album, released in 1996, featured a composite remix of “A Day in the Life”, including elements from the first two takes, representing the song at its early, pre-orchestral stage, while Anthology 3 included a version of “The End” that concludes by having the last note fade into the final chord of “A Day in the Life” (reversed, then played forwards). The version on the 2006 soundtrack remix album Love has the song starting with Lennon’s intro of “sugar plum fairy”, with the strings being more prominent during the crescendos. In 2017, a handful of outtakes from the recording sessions, including the first take, were included on the two-disc and six-disc versions of the 50th-anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper. The six-disc version of that edition also included, on a disc of mono mixes, a previously unreleased early demo mix of the song in its pre-orchestral stage, as of 30 January.

BBC radio ban

The song became controversial for its supposed references to drugs. On 20 May 1967, during the BBC Light Programme’s preview of the Sgt. Pepper album, disc jockey Kenny Everett was prevented from playing “A Day in the Life”. The BBC announced that it would not broadcast the song due to the line “I’d love to turn you on”, which, according to the corporation, advocated drug use. Other lyrics allegedly referring to drugs include “found my way upstairs and had a smoke / somebody spoke and I went into a dream”. A spokesman for the BBC stated: “We have listened to this song over and over again. And we have decided that it appears to go just a little too far, and could encourage a permissive attitude to drug-taking.”

At the time, Lennon and McCartney denied that there were drug references in “A Day in the Life” and publicly complained about the ban at a dinner party at the home of their manager, Brian Epstein, celebrating their album’s release. Lennon said that the song was simply about “a crash and its victim”, and called the line in question “the most innocent of phrases”. McCartney later said: “This was the only one in the album written as a deliberate provocation. A stick-that-in-your-pipe … But what we want is to turn you on to the truth rather than pot.” The Beatles nevertheless aligned themselves with the drug culture in Britain by paying for (at McCartney’s instigation) a full-page advertisement in The Times, in which, along with 60 other signatories, they and Epstein denounced the law against marijuana as “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice”. In addition, on 19 June, McCartney confirmed to an ITN reporter, further to his statement in a recent Life magazine interview, that he had taken LSD. Described by MacDonald as a “careless admission”, it led to condemnation of McCartney in the British press, recalling the outcry caused by the publication of Lennon’s “More popular than Jesus” remark in the US in 1966. The BBC ban on the song was eventually lifted on 13 March 1972.

Recognition and reception

Recalling the release of Sgt. Pepper in his 1977 book The Beatles Forever, Nicholas Schaffner wrote that “Nothing quite like ‘A Day in the Life’ had been attempted before in so-called popular music” in terms of the song’s “use of dynamics and tricks of rhythm, and of space and stereo effect, and its deft intermingling of scenes from dream, reality, and shades in between”. Schaffner said that in the context of 1967, the track “was so visually evocative it seemed more like a film than a mere song. Except that the pictures were all in our heads.” Having been given a tape of “A Day in the Life” by Harrison before leaving London, David Crosby proselytised strongly about Sgt. Pepper to his circle in Los Angeles, sharing the recording with his Byrds bandmates and Graham Nash. Crosby later expressed surprise that by 1970 the album’s powerful sentiments had not been enough to stop the Vietnam War.

Richard Goldstein of The New York Times called the song “a deadly earnest excursion in emotive music with a chilling lyric” and said that it “stands as one of the most important Lennon–McCartney compositions … [and] an historic Pop event”. In his praise for the track, he drew comparisons between its lyrics and the work of T. S. Eliot and likened its music to Wagner. In a contemporary music critics’ poll published by Jazz & Pop magazine, “A Day in the Life” won in the categories of Best Pop Song and Best Pop Arrangement.

In his appraisal of the song, musicologist Walter Everett states that, as on the band’s Revolver album, “the most monumental piece on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was Lennon’s”. He identifies the track’s most striking feature as “its mysterious and poetic approach to serious topics that come together in a larger, direct message to its listeners, an embodiment of the central ideal for which the Beatles stood: that a truly meaningful life can be had only when one is aware of one’s self and one’s surroundings and overcomes the status quo.” Beatles biographer Philip Norman describes “A Day in the Life” as a “masterpiece” and cites it as an example of how Sgt. Pepper “certainly was John’s Freak Out!“, referring to the 1966 album by the Mothers of Invention. As the closing track on Sgt. Pepper, the song was the object of intense scrutiny and commentary. In Ian MacDonald’s description, it has been interpreted “as a sober return to the real world after the drunken fantasy of ‘Pepperland’; as a conceptual statement about the structure of the pop album (or the artifice of the studio, or the falsity of recorded performance); as an evocation of a bad [LSD] trip; as a ‘pop Waste Land‘; even as a morbid celebration of death”.

“A Day in the Life” became one of the Beatles’ most influential songs, and many now consider it to be the band’s greatest work. Paul Grushkin, in his book Rockin’ Down the Highway: The Cars and People That Made Rock Roll, called the track “one of the most ambitious, influential, and groundbreaking works in pop music history”. According to musicologist John Covach, “‘A Day in the Life’ is perhaps one of the most important single tracks in the history of rock music; clocking in at only four minutes and forty-five seconds, it must surely be among the shortest epic pieces in rock.” In his review of the 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper for Rolling Stone, Mikal Gilmore says that “A Day in the Life” and Harrison’s “Within You Without You” are the only songs on the album that transcend its legacy as “a gestalt: a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts”. In a 2017 article for Newsweek, Tim de Lisle cited Chris Smith’s recollection of him and fellow art student Freddie Mercury “writ[ing] little bits of songs which we linked together, like ‘A Day in the Life'”, as evidence to show that “No Pepper, no ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”

James A. Moorer has said that both “A Day in the Life” and a fugue in B minor by Bach were his sources of inspiration for Deep Note, the audio trademark he created for the THX film company. The song’s final chord inspired Apple sound designer Jim Reekes in creating the start-up chime of the Apple Macintosh featured on Macintosh Quadra computers. Reekes said he used “a C Major chord, played with both hands stretched out as wide as possible”, played on a Korg Wavestation EX.

“A Day in the Life” appears on many top songs lists. It placed twelfth on CBC’s 50 Tracks, the second highest Beatles song on the list after “In My Life“. It placed first in Q magazine’s list of the 50 greatest British songs of all time, and was at the top of Mojo‘s 101 Greatest Beatles’ Songs, as decided by a panel of musicians and journalists. “A Day in the Life” was also nominated for a Grammy in 1967 for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist or Instrumentalist. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it at number 26 on the magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, number 28 on a revised list in 2011, number 24 on a revised list on 2021, and in 2010, deemed it to be the Beatles’ greatest song. It is listed at number 5 on Pitchfork‘s list of “The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s”. According to Acclaimed Music, it is the third-most celebrated song in popular music history, and the second-most acclaimed of the 1960s.

Legacy

On 27 August 1992 Lennon’s handwritten lyrics were sold by the estate of Mal Evans in an auction at Sotheby’s London for $100,000 (£56,600) to Joseph Reynoso, an American from Chicago. The lyrics were put up for sale again in March 2006 by Bonhams in New York. Sealed bids were opened on 7 March 2006 and offers started at about $2 million. The lyric sheet was auctioned again by Sotheby’s in June 2010. It was purchased by an anonymous American buyer who paid $1,200,000 (£810,000).

McCartney has performed the song in some of his live shows since his 2008 tour. It is played in a medley with “Give Peace a Chance“. On 11 March 2022, the song was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales and streams exceeding 200,000 units. […]


It was a song that John brought over to me at Cavendish Avenue. It was his original idea. He’d been reading the Daily Mail and brought the newspaper with him to my house. We went upstairs to the music room and started to work on it. He had the first verse, he had the war, andalittle bit of the second verse.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

‘A Day In The Life’ – that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then, we’really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said, ‘Yeah,’ bang, bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully, and we arranged it and rehearsed it, which we don’t often do, the afternoon before, so, we all knew what we were playing. We all got into it. It was a real groove, you know, the whole scene on that one. Paul sang half of it, and I sang half. I needed a middle-eight for it, but that would have been forcing it. All the rest had come out smooth, flowing, no trouble, and to write a middle-eight would have been to write a middle-eight, but instead Paul already had one there. It’s a bit of 2001, you know.

John Lennon, November 1968 – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

Well, it was a peak. Paul and I were definitely working together, especially on ‘A Day In The Life’ that was real … The way we wrote a lot of the time: you’d write the good bit, the part that was easy, like ‘I read the news today’, or whatever it was, then when you got stuck or whenever it got hard, instead of carrying on, you just drop it; then we would meet each other, and I would sing half, and he would be inspired to write the next bit and vice versa. He was a bit shy about it because I think he thought it’s already a good song. Sometimes we wouldn’t let each other interfere with a song either, because you tend to be a bit lax with someone else’s stuff, you experiment a bit. So we were doing it in his room with the piano. He said, ‘Should we do this?’ Yeah, let’s do that. But Pepper was a peak all right.

John Lennon – From “The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years” by Barry Miles

I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul’s contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn’t use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work.

John Lennon – From interview with Playboy, January 1981

The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don’t believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John’s head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who’d stopped at some traffic lights and he didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The “blew his mind’ was purely a drug reference, nothing to do with a car crash. In actual fact I think I spent more time with Tara than John did. I’d taken Tara up to Liverpool. I was with Tara when I had the accident when I split my lip. We were really quite good friends and I introduced him to John. Anyway, if John said he was thinking of Tara, then he was, but in my mind it wasn’t to do with that.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

I did once have an accident in Liverpool where I fell off a moped and busted my lip open, and we had to get the doctor round to my cousin Betty’s house. That was around this same time, when I was twenty-something and going out on the moped from my dad’s house to Betty’s house. I was taking a friend, Tara Guinness. He died later in a car accident. He was a nice boy. I wrote about him in ‘A Day in the Life’: ‘He blew his mind out in a car / He didn’t notice that the lights had changed’. Anyway, I was with Tara and had an accident – fell off my moped, busted my lip, went to Betty’s, and she said, ‘Get a doctor, get a doctor. It needs stitches.’

Paul McCartney – From “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present“, 2021

We looked through the newspaper and both wrote the verse ‘how many holes in Blackburn, Lancashire’. I liked the way he said ‘Lan-ca-sheer’, which is the way you pronounce it up north. Then I had this sequence that fitted, ‘Woke up, fell out of bed…’ and we had to link them. This was the time of Tim Leary’s ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ and we wrote, ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ John and I gave each other a knowing look: ‘Uhhuh, it’s a drug song. You know that, don’t you?’

‘Yes, but at the same time, our stuff is always very ambiguous and ‘turn you on’ can be sexual so … c’mon!’

As John and I looked at each other, a little flash went between our eyes, like ‘I’d love to turn you on’, a recognition of what we were doing, so I thought, Okay, we’ve got to have something amazing that will illustrate that.

When we took it to the studio I suggested, ‘Let’s put aside twenty-four bars and just have Mal count them.’ They said, ‘Well, what are you going to put there?’ I said, “Nothing. It’s just going to be, One, chunk chunk chunk; two, chunk chunk chunk; three …” And you can hear Mal in the background doing that. He counted down and on bar twenty-four he hit the alarm clock, Brrrrrrr! It was just a period of time, an arbitrary length of bars, which was very Cage thinking. I’m using his name to cover all the sins, but that kind of avant-garde thinking came from the people I had been listening to.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997



The lyrics came about because John would often take his lyrics from quite ordinary, common place events. And, that very day, he had seen a copy of the Daily Mail, which, in fact, had a report in it from one councillor of Blackburn, Lancashire, who said that, ‘The roads of Blackburn were absolutely disgusting. I have been round and there were 4,000 holes in the road,’ and John thought this was rather funny, and I did too. And so, he included it in a verse in the song. It’s as innocent as that and brilliant. I actually saw the newspaper, which had this cutting in it. People accused us of saying it referred to puncture marks in people’s arms, Heroin addicts, and that kind of nonsense.

George Martin – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

It was about me remembering what it was like to run up the road to catch the bus to school, having a smoke and going into school. We decided, ‘Bugger this. We’re going to write a turn-on song.’ It was a recollection of my school days. I would have a Woodbine then, and somebody would speak and I would go into a dream. That was the only song on the album written as a deliberate provocation.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

He was a bit shy about it, because I think he thought it’s already a good song. Sometimes we wouldn’t let each other interfere with a song either, because you tend to be a bit lax with someone else’s stuff, so you experiment a bit. We were doing it in his room with the piano. He said, ‘Should we do this?’ (I said) ‘Yeah, let’s do that.’

John Lennon – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

Then the tricky one that the BBC banned – ‘A Day in the Life’. It’s been said that this is a sort of requiem to Tara Brown (the heir to the Guinness Trust, killed last December in a car crash in London).

I’ve heard that. I don’t think John had that in mind at all. The real words to that are ‘Read the news today’. There’d been a story about a man who’d made the grade, and there’d been a photograph of him sitting in his car. John said ‘I had to laugh’. He’d sort of blown his mind out in the car.

Literally, with a gun?

No, he was just high on whatever he uses, say he was pissed in this big Bentley, sitting at the traffic lights. He’s driving today; the chauffeur isn’t there, and maybe he got high because of that. The lights have changed and he hasn’t noticed that there’s a crowd of housewives and they’re all looking at him saying ‘Who’s that? I’ve seen him in the papers’ and they’re not sure if he’s from the House of Lords. He looks a bit like that with his homburg and white scarf and he’s out of his screws.

That’s a bit of black comedy. The next bit was another song altogether but it just happened to fit. It was just me remembering what it was like to run up the road to catch a bus to school, having a smoke and going into class. We decided: ‘Bugger this, we’re going to write a turn-on song.’ It was a reflection of my school days — I would have a Woodbine then, and somebody would speak and I would go into a dream.

This was the only one in the album written as a deliberate provocation. A stick-that-in-your-pipe… But what we want is to turn you on to the truth rather than pot.

Paul McCartney – Interview with The Observer, November 1967

This was a song written by the two of them quite separately. John had the idea originally. For the first bit, he said to me, ‘I don’t know where to go from here.’ So, Paul said, ‘Well, I’ve got this other song I’ve been working on. What do you think of it?’ This ended up being the middle bit and so they joined the two bits together to make one song. It was Paul’s idea to leave 24 bars empty, which we would fill in later with something. We asked him, ‘What are you going to do with it?’ ‘Well,’ he replied, ‘let’s worry about it later. Let’s play the 24 bars down anyway.’ So, in order to keep the 24 bars regular, we got Mal Evans, The Beatles’ roadie, to shout, ‘1, 2, 3,4,’ at the beginning of every bar. And, in order to make the song less boring; we put tape echo on it. So, on the original tapes, you can hear Mal’s voice with an echo as the bars go through. At the end of it, just to make sure we didn’t forget the 24th bar, he sounded an alarm clock. Those with very keen ears can listen to ‘A Day In The Life’ and you can actually hear Mal’s voice in the background.

George Martin – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

The most spectacular and extreme reaction came from the British Broadcasting Corporation. To this day I still can’t understand why the BBC banned ‘A Day In The Life’. I think if the track had just been a rhythm track, conventionally recorded, no one would have taken any notice. But the anarchic sound of the orchestral climax seems to have contributed to the idea that the song’s lyrics meant something nasty, something sinister: subversive even, at the very least an encouragement to take drugs. The vocal wailings in the bridge of the song definitely contributed to its reception as a ‘marijuana dream’. To us, though, those vocals were no more than an inventive way of getting back to the original key!

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



From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] mono 22 Feb 1967. edited. crossfaded 6 Apr 1967.
UK: Parlophone PMC 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
US: Capitol MAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.

[b] stereo 23 Feb 1967. edited. crossfaded 20 Apr 1967.
UK: Parlophone PCS 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
US: Capitol SMAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46442 2 Sgt Pepper 1987.

[b1] stereo with crossfade cut off 1973.
UK: Apple PCSP 718 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.

[b2] stereo with crossfade cut off 1973 by Capitol.
US: Apple SKBO-3404 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.

[b3] stereo without crossfade.
CD: EMI CDP 7 90803 2 Imagine/John Lennon 1988, EMI CDP 7 97039 2 The Beatles 1967-1970 1993.

[c] mono 30 Jan 1967, and mono and stereo 1995. edited.
CD: Apple CDP 8 34448 2 Anthology 2 1996.

The orchestra was recorded on 4 tracks of a separate 4-track tape (take 7) and synchronized during mixing with the Beatles tape (take 6).

The edit is for the final note, recorded separately.

The crossfade joins the beginning to the preceding Sgt Pepper (reprise). For the 1967-1970 collection [b1] [b2] and on a 1978 single, the crossfade is just cut off, so the song begins later than its real beginning. The original mix without crossfade [b3] appeared in the documentary film Imagine: John Lennon. The same original mix, also including a countdown that is not heard under the crossfade, appeared in a 1967 promo film.

The Anthology mix [c] is deliberately different and contains some material not used in the standard versions [a][b]. It contains many parts edited together: talk before take 1 (the take used for the standard version); take 2 (not the standard version) from start of song through the 24-bar count; overdubs to take 6 later wiped out for the standard version but preserved in a 30 Jan mono mix; more of take 2 for the last verse; take 2 synchronized with the orchestral overdub of the standard version; and finally talk recorded on Feb 10 and never intended to be used as the conclusion. All of this is mono until the orchestral overdub, which has been remixed to stereo. The Jan 30 overdub mono mix has been available on bootleg since 1987, and shows a different bass part throughout as well as the different Paul vocal highlighted here; but it breaks down after Paul flubs the vocal. The reverb on the 24-bar count was done during recording.

Last updated on May 6, 2024

Lyrics

I read the news today oh boy
about a lucky man who made the grade
and though the news was rather sad
well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph

He blew his mind out in a car
he didn't notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
they'd seen his face before
nobody was really sure if he was from the house of lords

I saw a film today oh boy
the English army had just one the war
a crowd of people turned away
but I just had to look, having read the book
I'd love to turn on you

Woke up, got out of bed
dragged a comb across my head
found my way downstairs and drank a cup
and looking up, I noticed I was late

Found my coat and grabbed my hat,
made the bus in seconds flat
found my way upstairs and had a smoke
and somebody spoke and I went in to a dream
Ahh,ahh,ahh

I read the news today oh boy
four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
they had to count them all
now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert hall
I'd love to turn on you

Officially appears on


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono)

LP • Released in 1967

5:37 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Stereo)

LP • Released in 1967

5:37 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 23, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (US Mono)

LP • Released in 1967

5:37 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (US Stereo)

LP • Released in 1967

5:37 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 23, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

1967-1970 (US version, 1973)

Official album • Released in 1973

5:37 • Studio versionB2 • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 23, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

1967-1970 (UK version, 1973)

LP • Released in 1973

5:37 • Studio versionB1 • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 23, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / With A Little Help From My Friends

7" Single • Released in 1978

5:37 • Studio versionB1 • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 23, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Anthology 2

Official album • Released in 1996

5:05 • OuttakeC • Takes 1, 2 and take 6 overdub. Assembled expressly for the Anthology, this composite embraces the best of the unreleased outtakes of A Day In The Life, plotting the making of the song that brought such a monumental close to the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The opening talk, the sounding of the alarm clock (used so effectively in the finished master) and the intro - John muttering "sugar plum fairy, sugar plum fairy"instead of the more conventional count-in - is from the start of Take 1, when the song was first taped on 19 January 1967. The main body of the music is Take 2, recorded during the same session. At this point the tape features John's acoustic guitar and haunting live lead vocal, sundry percussion instruments, piano (played by Paul) and an echo-drenched Mal Evans, one of the Beatles' two assistants, counting out the first of two long gaps that would later be so famously filled with the orchestral crescendos. After the counting, the track slips into mono to illustrate a guide vocal from Paul, taped on 20 January as an overdub on to Take 6 but then superseded by a better recording of the passage on 3 February. The original survives, however, thanks to a mono mix done in the interim, on 30 January. Take 2 then returns, leading into a new mix of the orchestral crescendos recorded on 10 January, but instead of the familiar final piano chord the track ends with Paul talking about the orchestral overdub, a short extract from one of four tapes of ambient studio sounds recorded at the same session.

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Backing vocals (bar count)

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 10, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Love

Official album • Released in 2006

5:08 • Studio versionD

George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Paul Hicks :
Remix engineer
Sam Okell :
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster :
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles :
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

5:37 • Studio versionA2009 • Mono • 2009 mono remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums, Final piano chord
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Final piano chord, Lead vocals, Tambourine
George Harrison :
Maracas
George Martin :
Harmonium, Orchestral arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jack Brymer :
Clarinet
Mal Evans :
Alarm clock, Final piano chord
Sidney Sax :
Violin
Francesc Gabarró Solé :
Cello
Jürgen Hess :
Violin
John Underwood :
Viola
Alan Civil :
French horn
David Mason :
Trumpet
Neill Sanders :
French horn
Erich Gruenberg :
Violin
Granville Delmé Jones :
Violin
Bill Monro :
Violin
Hans Geiger :
Violin
D Bradley :
Violin
Lionel Bentley :
Violin
David McCallum Sr. :
Violin
Donald Weekes :
Violin
Henry Datyner :
Violin
Ernest Scott :
Violin
Gwynne Edwards :
Viola
Bernard Davis :
Viola
John Meek :
Viola
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Alan Dalziel :
Cello
Alex Nifosi :
Cello
Cyril MacArthur :
Double bass
Gordon Pearce :
Double bass
John Marston :
Harp
Basil Tschaikov :
Clarinet
Roger Lord :
Oboe
N Fawcett :
Bassoon
Alfred Waters :
Bassoon
Clifford Seville :
Flute
David Sanderman :
Flute
Monty Montgomery :
Trumpet
Harold Jackson :
Trumpet
Raymond Brown :
Trombone
Raymond Premru :
Trombone
T Moore :
Trombone
Michael Barnes :
Tubas
Tristan Fry :
Percussion, Timpani
Marijke Koger :
Tambourine
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Jan 19, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jan 20, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 03, 10 and 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 22, 1967
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

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