Recording: Revolution 1

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

The Beatles began recording their double album, simply titled The Beatles but more commonly known as the White Album, on this day. The session lasted a little over 12 hours, beginning at 2.30pm and ending at 2.40am the following morning, and saw the group work on ‘Revolution 1’.

At this point it wasn’t known as ‘Revolution 1’, however. The title was ‘Revolution’ until it was vetoed for single release, after which a new, faster version was taped under that name.

John Lennon’s lyrics for Revolution, 1968

The Beatles recorded 16 takes of ‘Revolution 1’ on this day. These were numbered 1-18, although there were no takes 11 and 12. The recording had piano, drums and acoustic guitar all on a single track of the tape, and Lennon’s vocals on another.

Take 18 was markedly different from the others, running to 10’17”. It included an extended jam in the coda, which lasted well beyond Lennon’s call to the studio control room at 7:31: “OK, I’ve had enough”.

The final six minutes featured feedback, screaming and moaning, including vocal contributions from Lennon’s new girlfriend Yoko Ono. The full take was released in 2018 on the super deluxe 50th anniversary reissue of the White Album.

Overdub work on ‘Revolution 1’ continued during the next two sessions, on 31 May and 4 June, before Lennon made the decision to create the sound collage ‘Revolution 9’ from the final minutes of the song.

Last updated: 6 July 2022
Demo recordings for the White Album
Recording: Revolution 1
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  1. David Harvey Thursday 22 December 2022

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