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1968, August

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 31, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 31, 1968

The Beatles record, Hey Jude, enters the Billboard chart ranking at #10, a record for the singles chart.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 30, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 30, 1968

UK release of The Beatles’ single Hey Jude / Revolution (Apple). First single (and first record) to be released on the Apple label. 11 weeks on the charts; highest position #1.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 29, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 29, 1968

The Beatles in the recording studio (Trident Studios, London). Overdubbing vocals, handclaps, tambourine, piano, and flugelhorn onto Dear Prudence.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 28, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 28, 1968

Trident Studios, St Anne's Court, London
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Barry Sheffield

The Beatles returned to Trident Studios in London's Soho district, where they had previously recorded Hey Jude, to begin work on the White Album song Dear Prudence.

Ringo Starr was not present, as he had walked out of the group on 22 August 1968. The remaining Beatles elected to continue without him, and so decamped to Trident for its eight-track recording facilities.

The Beatles opted to record the song track-by-track, wiping each previous attempt until they had a satisfactory version, meaning that the result was a solitary take with numerous layers.

The basic track was recorded on this day, with John Lennon and George Harrison's fingerpicked acoustic guitars, and Paul McCartney's drums.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 27, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 27, 1968

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

Tuesday 27 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two (control room), EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Engineer: Ken Scott

Copies of four completed songs recorded for the White Album were made during this half-hour session, which took place from 4.30-5pm in the control room of Abbey Road's Studio Two.

The songs were Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Blackbird, Not Guilty and Revolution 9. The copies were signed out and taken away by The Beatles' assistant Mal Evans.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 26, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 26, 1968

US single release: Hey Jude

One of The Beatles' most successful singles, Hey Jude/Revolution was issued in the US on this day. It was also the group's first on their Apple label, and had the catalog number Apple 2276.

Hey Jude was a huge success in America, spending a total of 19 weeks on the charts from 14 September. The previous day it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The single topped the US Billboard chart for nine consecutive weeks, from 28 September to 23 November 1968. It was the longest time spent by a Beatles single at number one, and also set the record for the longest US number one single.

Additionally, as some US charts counted a- and b-sides separately, combining sales and airplay for their rankings, at one point Record World had Hey Jude at number one and Revolution at number two.

Also on this day, Mary Hopkin's single Those Were The Days, produced by Paul McCartney, was issued as Apple 1801. McCartney also wrote and produced the Black Dyke Mills Band's single Thingumybob/Yellow Submarine, which was released today as Apple 1800.
Additionally, Jackie Lomax's Sour Milk Sea, written and produced by George Harrison, was issued in the US as Apple 1802.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 25, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 25, 1968

When Ringo temporarily "quit" The Beatles, he and his family were lent Peters Sellers yacht and went out for the day. We told the captain we wanted fish and chips for lunch, because that's all we ever ate, being from Liverpool. And so when lunchtime came around we had the french fries, but then there was this other stuff on the plate. He said: 'Here's your fish and chips.' – 'Well, what's this?' – 'It's squid.' – 'We don't eat squid, where's the cod?' Anyway, we ate it for the first time and it was OK; a bit rubbery. It tasted like chicken.

I stayed out on deck with him and we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. A couple of tokes later with the guitar – and we had Octopus's Garden!

I had a rest and the holiday was great. I knew we were all in a messed-up stage. It wasn't just me; the whole thing was going down. I had definitely left, I couldn't take it any more. There was no magic and the relationships were terrible. I'd come to a bad spot in life. It could have been paranoia, but I just didn't feel good – I felt like an outsider. But then I realised that we were all feeling like outsiders, and it just needed me to go around knocking to bring it to a head.

I got a telegram saying, 'You're the best rock'n'roll drummer in the world. Come on home, we love you.' And so I came back. We all needed that little shake-up. When I got back to the studio I found George had had it decked out with flowers – there were flowers everywhere. I felt good about myself again, we'd got through that little crisis and it was great.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 24, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 24, 1968

John Lennon and Yoko Ono appear live for an interview on David Frost’s television program, “Frost on Saturday.” John’s current interests are made exceedingly clear. The word “Beatles” is scarcely uttered. Instead, John and Yoko discuss art, vibrations, and the avant-garde. Frost was a bit cautious, prompting John and Yoko to take charge of the interview and liven things up. The interview was re-broadcast on “The Best of Frost,” on May 18, 1969.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 23, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 23, 1968

Recording, mixing: Back In The USSR

The day after Ringo Starr temporarily quit The Beatles, the rest of the group continued work on the White Album song Back In The USSR.

Overdubs were added to take five, the rhythm track previously recorded. Paul McCartney added piano and George Harrison played more drums onto track three, erasing John Lennon six-string bass guitar part. Another electric guitar track was also added.

A reduction mix was then made, which was labelled take six, which combined all the instruments onto a single track. McCartney recorded his lead vocals with simultaneous backing by Lennon and Harrison, recorded onto two separate tracks with backups by all three Beatles.

Track four on the tape was filled with a bass guitar overdub by McCartney, six-string bass by Harrison, and Lennon hitting a snare drum.

A single mono mix of Back In The USSR was then made, during which the sound of a jet plane was added. A stereo mix was made on 13 October 1968.

Before the session ended at 3am, four sets of the final mono mixes of Back In The USSR, Rocky Raccoon, Wild Honey Pie, Mother Nature's Son and Sexy Sadie were made and signed out by The Beatles' assistant Mal Evans.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 22, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 22, 1968

Ringo Starr quits The Beatles

Tensions had been building within The Beatles for some time during the recording of the White Album. On this day matters came to a head, and Ringo Starr left the group.

While we were recording the 'White' album we ended up being more of a band again, and that's what I always love. I love being in a hand. Of course, I must have moments of turmoil, because I left the group for a while that summer.

I left because I felt two things: I felt I wasn't playing great, and I also felt that the other three were really happy and I was an outsider. I went to see John, who had been living in my apartment in Montagu Square with Yoko since he moved out of Kenwood. I said, 'I'm leaving the group because I'm not playing well and I feel unloved and out of it, and you three are really close.' And John said, 'I thought it was you three!'

So then I went over to Paul's and knocked on his door. I said the same thing: 'I'm leaving the band. I feel you three guys are really close and I'm out of it.' And Paul said, 'I thought it was you three!'

I didn't even bother going to George then. I said, 'I'm going on holiday.' I took the kids and we went to Sardinia.

Ringo Starr
Anthology

That day The Beatles were booked to record in Abbey Road's studio two; the session began at 7pm, and ended at 4.45 the following morning. The argument occurred during rehearsals for Paul McCartney's Back In The USSR, which the three remaining Beatles went on to record without Starr.

I remember Ringo being uptight about something, I don't remember what, and the next thing I was told was that he'd quit the band. But work continued. They did Back In The USSR with what I seem to recall was a composite drum track of bits and pieces, possibly with all of the other three playing drums. Within a few days the differences had been sorted out and Ringo came back. Mal Evans completely decorated studio two with flowers, they were all over his drum kit, 'Welcome Back Ringo'.

Paul McCartney played the drums on the rhythm track, with George Harrison on lead guitar and John Lennon on bass. More tracks of each instrument were recorded at subsequent sessions.

Ringo's departure, meanwhile, was kept from the press, with everyone who knew the troublesome events sworn to secrecy.

I think they were all feeling a little paranoid. When you have a rift between people – if you go to a party and the husband and wife have been having a row – there's a tension, an atmosphere. And you wonder whether you are making things worse by being there. I think that was the kind of situation we found with Ringo. He was probably feeling a little bit odd because of the mental strangeness with John and Yoko and Paul, and none of them having quite the buddiness they used to have. He might have said to himself, 'Am I the cause?'

Starr flew to the Mediterranean where he spent two weeks on Peter Sellers' yacht. During the break he wrote Octopus's Garden.

Peter Sellers had lent us his yacht and we went out for the day. We told the captain we wanted fish and chips for lunch, because that's all we ever ate, being from Liverpool. And so when lunchtime came around we had the french fries, but then there was this other stuff on the plate. He said: 'Here's your fish and chips.' – 'Well, what's this?' – 'It's squid.' – 'We don't eat squid, where's the cod?' Anyway, we ate it for the first time and it was OK; a bit rubbery. It tasted like chicken.

I stayed out on deck with him and we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. A couple of tokes later with the guitar – and we had Octopus's Garden!

I had a rest and the holiday was great. I knew we were all in a messed-up stage. It wasn't just me; the whole thing was going down. I had definitely left, I couldn't take it any more. There was no magic and the relationships were terrible. I'd come to a bad spot in life. It could have been paranoia, but I just didn't feel good – I felt like an outsider. But then I realised that we were all feeling like outsiders, and it just needed me to go around knocking to bring it to a head.

I got a telegram saying, 'You're the best rock'n'roll drummer in the world. Come on home, we love you.' And so I came back. We all needed that little shake-up. When I got back to the studio I found George had had it decked out with flowers – there were flowers everywhere. I felt good about myself again, we'd got through that little crisis and it was great.

Ringo Starr
Anthology

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 21, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 21, 1968

The Beatles finally completed recording Sexy Sadie during this session, which lasted from 7.30pm until 7.15am the following morning.

The session began with three more reduction mixes, replacing those made on 13 August 1968. Each of these new mixes cleared a single track for further work.

The first mix was numbered take 112, and combined the piano and guitars onto a single track. Simultaneously, John Lennon recorded a second lead vocal part, Paul McCartney played organ and Ringo Starr was on tambourine.

The next reduction mix was take 115, and combined the new overdubs with the original vocal track. Backing vocals were then recorded, after George Harrison had returned from his Greek holiday.

The third reduction mix was take 117, and combined the backing vocals with the piano and guitar track. Paul McCartney then overdubbed bass guitar to complete the recording.

Sexy Sadie was mixed in mono five times towards the end of the session. The last of these was edited to remove a passage from 2'56" to 3'34" before being used on the White Album.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 20, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 20, 1968

-The Beatles in the recording studio (Studios Three and Two, EMI Studios, London). Two separate sessions, with John Lennon and Ringo Starr in Studio Three and Paul McCartney in Studio Two. George Harrison is in Greece, having left suddenly on a four-day trip. John and Ringo complete Yer Blues, recording Ringo’s intro ("two, three..."). Paul works on Mother Nature’s Son, adding overdubs that include the recording of two trumpets and two trombones. Engineer Ken Scott will later recall that John and Ringo walked in during Paul’s session and that the sudden negative tension that immediately developed between Paul and the others was striking. When John and Ringo left, things returned to normal. Late in Paul’s session, he records the demo for a song named Etcetera. This is followed by Wild Honey Pie, which is recorded in its entirety.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 19, 1968

Working on the White Album

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 18, 1968

The Beatles are in-between recording on this day.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 17, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 17, 1968

Publisher McGraw-Hill moves up the publication date of Hunter Davies’ authorized Beatles biography to prevent its sales being affected by the spoiler tome “The Beatles: The Real Story” by Julian Fast. Fast later admits that he’s never had contact with any of the Beatles.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 16, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 16, 1968

Recording: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Friday 16 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

The Beatles returned to George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps during this session, following an earlier attempt on 25 July 1968.

Fourteen takes were recorded, with Harrison on acoustic guitar, John Lennon playing an organ, Paul McCartney on bass guitar and Ringo Starr on drums.

Before the session ended at 5am a reduction mix was made of take 14. The tape machine was running slower than usual during the mix – at 42½ cycles per second rather than the usual 50 – which lengthened the song from 3'53" to 4'53".

While My Guitar Gently Weeps was then set aside until 3 September 1968, when it became the first Beatles song to feature eight-track recording at Abbey Road.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 15, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 15, 1968

Recording, mixing: Rocky Raccoon

Thursday 15 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

The Beatles rehearsed, recorded and completed a song during a single session on this day. It was an unusual feat for the group in 1968.

The song was Rocky Raccoon. All four Beatles were present for the 7pm-3am session, although George Harrison did not play on the backing track, instead choosing to observe from the studio control room.

The song was recorded in nine takes, with Paul McCartney on vocals and acoustic guitar, Ringo Starr on drums, and John Lennon alternating between bass guitar and harmonica. Take eight from the session was released on 1996's Anthology 3.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 14, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 14, 1968

-The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). Yer Blues is brought nearly to completion with therecording of a second John Lennon lead vocal. Then recording begins for What’s the New Mary Jane (4 takes). This song is very nearly included on The Beatles (The White Album), but is cut at the last minute. John and George Harrison are the only Beatles who perform on the song, and John is the only singer. But Yoko Ono and Mal Evans join John and George in making the recordings. The “best” recording from this session was released on The Beatles Anthology 3 (Disc one, Track 22).

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 13, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 13, 1968

Recording, editing: Sexy Sadie, Yer Blues

Tuesday 13 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two and annexe, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

Following unproductive first sessions on 19 and 24 July 1968, The Beatles finally recorded a satisfactory arrangement of Sexy Sadie during this session.

Unusually, they began this second remake with take 100, recording a total of eight takes. Number 107 was considered the best, and was given four reduction mixes, numbered 108-111. These put John Lennon's lead vocals on one track, his and George Harrison's guitars on a second, Paul McCartney's piano on three, and Ringo Starr's drums on track four.

These reduction mixes went unused, however, and new ones were made on 21 August along with further overdubs.

The Beatles then began recording Yer Blues. Eager to achieve new sounds, they opted to play inside a small annexe room used to store four-track machines.

We had to fit all four of them in that tiny room and they literally couldn’t move. They had to find a position with their guitars and not move, or they would hit someone in the face or in the guitar. And that’s where we cut the track. So input came in a lot of different ways, and they were always up to trying anything new.

Fourteen takes were recorded, with Lennon and Harrison on lead guitar, McCartney on Rickenbacker bass guitar, and Starr on drums. Lennon also sang a guide vocal. Following take eight, McCartney took a break while the others recorded a jam in the key of E.

Takes six and 14 of Yer Blues were both judged to be good, so reduction mixes were made. Take six was mixed twice, numbered takes 15 and 16, and the single reduction of take 14 was called take 17. These mixes combined the two guitar tracks into one.

Takes 16 and 17 of Yer Blues were subsequently edited together, with the edit occurring at 3'16". The first part of the final version is from take 17, while the guitar solo is abruptly spliced with the beginning of take 16, complete with Lennon's guide vocals.

The recording of Yer Blues continued on the following day, with additional vocals and drums.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 12, 1968


1968--The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). George Harrison’s lead vocal for Not Guilty is recorded. The song is mixed into mono and then shelved until the “Beatles Anthology” series is released. It appears on The Beatles Anthology 3 (Disc one, Track 18).

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 11, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 11, 1968

The Beatles release Hey Jude, their first single to bear the Apple imprint. The single, backed with Revolution, goes to #1. Today also marks the start of National Apple Week in England, named in honor of the Beatles’ fledgling record label.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 10, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 10, 1968

Paul McCartney is interviewed for New Musical Express

Saturday 10 August 1968 Interview

On this day Paul McCartney gave an interview to Alan Smith of the New Musical Express, in which he candidly admitted: "The truth about me is that I'm pleasantly insincere."

The interview caused some controversy upon publication, mainly for McCartney's thoughts on India.

Starvation in India doesn't worry me one bit, not one iota. It doesn't, man. And it doesn't worry you, if you're honest. You just pose. You've only seen the Oxfam ads. You can't pretend to me that an Oxfam ad can reach down into the depths of your soul and actually make you feel for those people – more, for instance, than you feel about getting a new car.

Paul McCartney
New Musical Express, 1968

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 9, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 9, 1968

Recording: Not Guilty, Mother Nature’s Son

Friday 9 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

The Beatles worked on two songs during this 7.30pm-2am session: the unreleased George Harrison song Not Guilty, and Paul McCartney's composition Mother Nature's Son.

A new reduction mix – take 102 – of Not Guilty was the first task of the evening. This combined the bass guitar and drums onto one track, and electric guitar and harpsichord onto another.

The third track was then filled with more electric guitar, bass and drums. Harrison requested that the studio engineers crank up his amplifier to a high level, then played his part while seated in the control room to save his ears.

George asked us to put his guitar amplifier at one end of one of the echo chambers, with a microphone at the other end to pick up the output. He sat playing the guitar in the studio control room with a line plugged through to the chamber.

Brian Gibson, studio engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The session was due to end at 10pm – unusually early for The Beatles in 1968. When the rest of the group had gone home, Paul McCartney stayed behind to record 25 takes of Mother Nature's Son. The song featured none of the other Beatles, although more percussion and brass were added on 20 August 1968.
Take 24 was chosen as the best. The second attempt, meanwhile, was eventually issued along with Not Guilty on 1996's Anthology 3.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 8, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 8, 1968

Recording, mixing: Hey Jude, Not Guilty

Thursday 8 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

This 6.40pm-6.30am session began with the creation of new mono mixes of Hey Jude, after it was decided that the 6 August 1968 attempt was insufficient.

Although he hadn't worked on the session, balance engineer Ken Scott had been present at London's Trident Studios as The Beatles recorded the song. When the recording was transferred back to Abbey Road, however, he found the results were far less impressive.

I went to Trident to see the Beatles doing Hey Jude and was completely blown away by it. It sounded incredible. A couple of days later, back at Abbey Road, I got in well before the group. Acetates were being cut and I went up to hear one. On different equipment, with different EQ levels and different monitor settings, it sounded awful, nothing like it had at Trident.

Later on, I was sitting in number two control room and George Martin came in. I said 'George, you know that stuff you did at Trident?' 'Yes – how does it sound?' I said 'In all honesty, it sounds terrible!' 'What?' 'There's absolutely no high-end on it, no treble.'

Just then Paul McCartney came in and George said to him 'Ken thinks Hey Jude' sounds awful'. The look that came from Paul towards me... if looks could kill, it was one of those situations. Anyway, they went down to the studio floor, clearly talking about it, and one by one all the other Beatles came in and joined them. I could see them talking and then look up at me, and then talk again, and then look at me. I thought, 'Oh God, I'm going to get thrown off the session'. Finally, they all came storming up and said 'OK, let's see if it's as bad as you say. Go get the tape and we'll have a listen'. Luckily, they agreed with me, it did sound bad. We spent the rest of the evening trying to EQ it and get some high-end on it. But for a while there I wanted to crawl under a stone and die.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 7, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 7, 1968

The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). Recording begins for George Harrison’s song Not Guilty. It turned out to be a problematic song: out of 46 takes for the rhythm track, only five hold together to the end of the song. The Beatles will end up devoting over 100 hours to rehearsing and recording this song (a first), yet it will never be released as a finished track. John Lennon takes part as little as possible in the recording.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 6, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 6, 1968

John Lennon and Yoko Ono attend a fashion show at a discotheque, The Revolution, in Mayfair. John is interviewed, along with Pattie Harrison and fashion editor Suzy Menkes. The interview is broadcast that night on BBC Radio 1 and 2, on the program “Late Night Extra.”

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 5, 1968

The Beatles are getting ready to release "Hey Jude"

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 4, 1968

The Beatles are getting ready to release "Hey Jude"

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 3, 1968

The Beatles recording "Hey Jude"

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 2, 1968
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: August 2, 1968

Friday 2 August 1968 Studio

Trident Studios, St Anne's Court, London
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Barry Sheffield

After completing the recording of Hey Jude during the previous day's session, The Beatles began mixing the song.

As with the recording, the mixing took place at Trident Studios in London's Soho. The session began at 2pm and ended at 1.30am.

In that time just three stereo mixes were made, the last of which was judged to be the best. On 6 August 1968 they mixed Hey Jude in mono, before taking the tapes back to Abbey Road for further work.

 

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