Recording: Yellow Submarine

7.00pm, Thursday 26 May 1966 (47 years ago)

Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

The backing track for Paul McCartney‘s children’s song Yellow Submarine was recorded on this day, along with lead and backing vocals.

George Martin was ill with food poisoning, so the session went ahead without a producer. Martin did, however, send his fiancée Judy Lockhart-Smith to the session; she remained mostly in the Studio Three control room.

The Beatles began the session, which started at 7am and finished at 1am the following morning, by filling two tape reels with rehearsals of the song. Most of these were later wiped, however.

Four takes of the rhythm track were then recorded onto two tracks of the tape. John Lennon used his Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar, McCartney played bass guitar, George Harrison was on tambourine and Starr played drums.

The fourth track was judged to be the best, and onto this Starr overdubbed his lead vocals, joined by the others in the chorus. A fourth track was filled with additional vocals.

The instruments had been recorded with the tape machine running slightly fast (47.5 cycles per second), so it sounded a semitone lower upon playback. The vocals, conversely, were recorded slower than the finished version, which raised the pitch by a semitone when the tape was played at normal speed.

The session finished with a tape reduction to free up space for more overdubs, which were recorded on 1 June 1966. This mix combined both instrumental tracks to one, and the two vocal tracks to another.

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