Recording: Cry Baby Cry, Helter Skelter

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

The Beatles completed the recording of Cry Baby Cry during this day’s two sessions, and also began work on Helter Skelter.


The first session began at 2.30pm and lasted seven hours. Just one track was spare on the four-track tape, so The Beatles filled it with a number of simultaneous recordings. John Lennon redid his lead vocals in the verses, with harmonies by Paul McCartney in places; George Martin played a descending harmonium part in the introduction; Ringo Starr shook a tambourine; and George Harrison added electric guitar and tea party effects were made during the “Duchess of Kirkcaldy” verse.

Cry Baby Cry was transferred to eight-track tape on 17 September 1968, but no further music was added.

The day’s second session began at 10.30pm and ended at 3.30am. The Beatles recorded three takes of Helter Skelter, which were essentially rehearsals; they lasted 10’40″, 12’35″ and 27’11″ respectively. An edited mix of take two was released on 1996′s Anthology 3.

The takes were recorded over two rehearsal reels of Cry Baby Cry made on 15 July. At this stage Helter Skelter was a blues-based jam, although most of the lyrics and chord changes were in place.

These recordings featured two electric guitars, bass and drums all on the same track, and McCartney’s vocals on another. It is possible that Lennon played the bass in these recordings.

Following this session, The Beatles didn’t return to Helter Skelter until 9 September 1968.

Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.

Leave a reply