Music History

The Beatles Abbey Road Sessions Are Going on Tour

On this day in 1963, the Beatles released their first album, marking the beginning of a remarkable seven-year run that solidified the band as the most important group we will ever know. The group would tour for three more years before they decided they’d rather be a studio band and from late 1966 on, they refused to leave the confines of Abbey Road Studios.

Now these studio sessions–once the most private and exclusive recording session–are on tour. The Telegraph explains.

What would it be like to be in the studio with The Beatles? Geoff Emerick is one of the few who knows. He was a 15-year-old assistant engineer at Abbey Road when John, Paul, George and Ringo arrived for their first session in 1962. Late, great producer George Martin had a pop song for them to cover, “but they wanted to do one of their own, so they ran through a couple of passes of Love Me Do,” recalls the 70-year-old Emerick. “I’d only been two days in the job. But that was my life for the next eight years.”

As a “very nervous” 19-year-old, Emerick was promoted to chief engineer for Revolver in 1966. His first session was recording psychedelic epic Tomorrow Never Knows. “John’s thinking process was completely different to anyone else. He said ‘I want to sound like the Dalai Lama sitting on a mountain top 25 miles away.’”

Emerick came up with the idea of wiring Lennon’s vocals through a Hammond organ’s revolving Leslie speaker. “The Beatles didn’t want to sound like anyone or anything else. If there was a directive, that would be it. The only way we could get what they wanted was by abusing the equipment, so there was always a kerfuffle. We had so much fun.”

Emerick grins to recall the first monitor mix of A Day In The Life, after a long day multi-tracking an improvising orchestra in tuxedos and comedy noses. Members of the Rolling Stones had dropped by the control room. “There was absolute silence after it finished. It was like the world had gone from a square, black and white picture to Technicolor Cinemascope overnight. People were in awe, they were dumbstruck.”  And now, perhaps, you can be.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38550 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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