Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
The brass overdub for the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was recorded during this session, and ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ received its final mono mixes.
The Beatles had completed the rhythm parts for the Sgt Pepper title track on 2 February 1967, and the song was left dormant for a month until this day. Four session musicians were brought in to play the French horn parts: James W Buck, Neil Sanders, Tony Randall and John Burden.
They didn’t really know what they wanted. I wrote out phrases for them based on what Paul McCartney was humming to us and George Martin. All four Beatles were there but only Paul took an active interest in our overdub.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
As he had done for the 9 January 1967 session for ‘Penny Lane’, John Lennon had the discussions and rehearsals recorded from the Studio Two control room. At the end of the session he took away the tape, its purpose unknown.
After the brass overdub was complete, Paul McCartney recorded lead guitar onto the song. It was then complete, bar the addition of sound effects, which were added on 6 March 1967.
The final task in the session was the creation of four mono mixes of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. The last of these was considered the best, and was used on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
The session began at 7pm and finished at 2.15am on the following day.
Also on this day...
- 2021: Abbey Road street sign sells for £37,200
- 2015: Ringo Starr live: Movistar Arena, Santiago, Chile
- 2009: John Lennon artworks to go on show in Edinburgh
- 1999: Recording: Honey Hush, Lonesome Town, Run Devil Run by Paul McCartney
- 1968: Ringo Starr arrives back in England
- 1966: Brian Epstein announces The Beatles’ 1966 tours
- 1965: Filming: Help!, the Bahamas
- 1964: Mixing: I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, Tell Me Why, And I Love Her, I’m Happy Just To Dance With You, I Call Your Name
- 1964: Filming: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1963: Live: Gaumont Cinema, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1961: Live: St John’s Hall, Bootle
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
A bootleg of the 4-track master reveals that the electric guitar lead figures were punched in and out on the same track as the horns (track 3). Considering how primitive the punch capacities were on the Abbey Road 4-track machines of the time, these punches were *audacious*, to say the least! Listen carefully to the final mix and you can hear how little space there is between some of the horn sections and the lead guitar figures. In fact, in the stereo mix you can readily hear the final lead guitar figure punched out a bit early to preserve the horn phrases immediately subsequent.
It must have been a nerve-wracking session for Richard Lush, as the horn players had already left by the time he started punching the guitar, and one slip-up would have created a costly redo. He should be very proud of his work on this one.
Not only that, but in the 1967 stereo mix the lead guitar and french horns jump between right and left in the stereo image. That’s some lightning quick panning (or maybe just using a toggle L-R switch?)
If it was Paul playing the overdubbed lead guitar, it was very charitable for him to compromise with George: Paul would play the overdubbed lead guitar on the title track and George could play the lead guitar on the reprise.
I don’t buy Geoff Emerick’s unconvincing bull that George spent seven hours, the time of the whole session, overdubbing a guitar solo, only for Paul to capriciously replace it at the last minute; besides, there were French horns to be overdubbed.