Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: Chris Thomas
Engineer: Ken Scott
This was evidently a wild session, as chaotic in the studio as it sounded on record. The overdubs included lead and backing vocals, lead guitar (George Harrison), piano (heard at the end of the stereo mix), and a second drum track. Also recorded were amateurish saxophone and trumpet, played by John Lennon and Mal Evans respectively.
While Paul McCartney was recording his lead vocals, Harrison ran around the studio with a flaming ashtray above his head. This likely prompted McCartney’s spoken aside – audible on the multitracks but barely decipherable on the finished mixes – in a heavy northern accent: “Are you comin’, son? I saw you do that, you little bugger. Pop yer bloody hands on yer ’ead, come on!” It occurs just after the three-minute mark.
While Paul was doing his vocal, George Harrison had set fire to an ashtray and was running around the studio with it above his head, doing an Arthur Brown! All in all, a pretty undisciplined session, you could say!
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
‘Helter Skelter’ was given a mono mix on 17 September 1968, and stereo mixes were made on 12 October. The long gap between the two dates probably accounts for the disparities between the two versions; the mono mix omits almost a minute of the ending, including Ringo Starr’s famous shout “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”
Also on this day...
- 2014: New Paul McCartney song Hope For The Future unveiled
- 2010: Yoko Ono opens art installation in Berlin
- 1973: John Lennon and Yoko Ono put Tittenhurst Park up for sale
- 1969: Self-Portrait and Mr & Mrs Lennon’s Honeymoon by John Lennon and Yoko Ono are premièred in London
- 1964: Day off in Key West, Florida
- 1963: Lennon and McCartney given Variety Club award
- 1962: Live: Queen’s Hall, Widnes
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1961: Live: Casbah Coffee Club, Liverpool
- 1960: Live: Indra Club, Hamburg
- 1939: Cynthia Lennon is born
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.