Recording: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

7.00pm, Tuesday 3 September 1968 (45 years ago)

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Engineer: Ken Scott

The Beatles had recorded the backing track for George Harrison‘s While My Guitar Gently Weeps on 16 August 1968, but it was left alone – mainly due to Harrison’s Greek holiday – until this 7pm-3.30am session.

This was also the day in which Ringo Starr rejoined The Beatles, having walked out on on 22 August 1968, unhappy with the often tense atmospheres during the White Album sessions. He was greeted back with his drum kit covered with dozens of flowers.

Furthermore, EMI Studios at Abbey Road finally had a working eight-track machine. The first work task of the day was for a copy of take 15 of While My Guitar Gently Weeps to be made onto eight-track tape, which allowed for six further tracks to work with. The copy was numbered take 16.

George Harrison worked alone on this night. He spent the entire session recording a backwards guitar solo, although it was never used. More overdubs were taped on 5 September, but The Beatles then began a remake which became the final version.

George particularly wanted to get the sound of a crying guitar but he didn’t want to use a wah-wah pedal, so he was experimenting with a backwards guitar solo. This meant a lot of time-consuming shuttling back and forth from the studio to the control room. We spent a long night trying to get it to work but in the end the whole thing was scrapped and it was around that time that Eric Clapton started to get involved with the song.
Brian Gibson, technical engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Also during this session, a copy of the rhythm track of Revolution was made to allow The Beatles to add a new vocal track for the promotional shoot on the following day. This was in order to sidestep a Musicians’ Union ban on miming.

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