Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the recording was the two distorted lead guitars, a sound achieved by plugging the instruments directly into the recording console. These were recorded onto tracks one and two, while Ringo Starr‘s drums were recorded onto the third.
They were overdriving two of the mic preamps on an EMI REDD desk that was being used at the time. I was a mastering engineer at the beginning of the White Album recordings, and I happened to go to Studio 3, where they were recording that track. John, Paul and George were all in the control room and had their guitars plugged directly into the board, and Ringo was all on his own on the drums in the studio. Geoff Emerick came up with a very cool way to distort by going in one preamp to overload and into another preamp to distort it even more.
The drums were double-tracked onto the tape’s fourth track, to add further weight to the song. Three reduction mixes were then made – takes 11-13 – which put the guitars onto track one and the drums onto two.
John Lennon recorded his lead vocals onto track three. Another vocal part was overdubbed onto track four, for which he sang selected words to add emphasis, and screamed in the introduction. Handclaps and a drum crack by Starr in the third bar of the song were also recorded on this fourth track.
Before the session ended at 1.30am two new reduction mixes were made. These were numbered 14 and 15, and combined tracks three and four onto track three of a new tape.
John Lennon took away a mono copy of take 15, prior to further overdubs beginning on the next day.