The Beatles meet at Apple’s basement studio

12.00pm, Monday 20 January 1969 (45 years ago)

The Beatles assembled on this day at their new studio in the basement of their Apple headquarters on Savile Row, London.

There was no film crew present; it was ostensibly to test out the recording equipment which had been installed by Alexis ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas. The day, however, was not a success.

The mixing console [made by Mardas] was made of bit of wood and an old oscilloscope. It looked like the control panel of a B-52 bomber. They actually tried a session on this desk, they did a take, but when they played back the tape it was all hum and hiss. Terrible. The Beatles walked out, that was the end of it.
Dave Harries, recording engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Mardas later defended his position, saying the equipment was still in a prototype stage and unfit for recording purposes.

The metal was an eighth of an inch out around the knobs and switches. It had obviously been done with a hammer and chisel instead of being properly designed and machined. It did pass signals but Glyn Johns said ‘I can’t do anything with this. I can’t make a record with this board’.
Alan Parsons, tape operator
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Unable to make use of it, The Beatles were forced instead to have equipment brought from EMI Studios at Abbey Road. EMI lent Apple two four-track consoles, to be used alongside their own 3M eight-track tape machines, which were brought over on 21 January 1969.

The mixing console was sold as scrap to a secondhand electronics shop in the Edgware Road for £5. It wasn’t worth any more.
Geoff Emerick
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Technical problems aside, this was The Beatles’ first day performing as a quartet since George Harrison had walked out 10 days before. They performed a number of songs, although the tapes are yet to surface publicly. The only known clue is from 21 January, when Harrison plays a guitar riff to Lennon and says: “Remember that thing we did?” to which Lennon replies by asking, “Yesterday?”

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