Studios One, Two and Three and Rooms 41 and 42, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott
The Beatles’ only 24-hour recording session began at 5pm on the afternoon of 16 October 1968, and concluded at 5pm on Thursday 17 October.
The reason for the mammoth session was for mixing, edits and crossfades for the White Album. What’s more, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were on holiday in Los Angeles and Sardinia respectively, leaving John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Martin and the EMI staff to complete the record.
All three main studios at Abbey Road were used, in addition to two extra rooms, as the final running order was decided upon and a master tape assembled. Although the styles on the White Album were varied, each of the four sides began with a strong song, each had a George Harrison song, songs with animals in the title were mostly presented together on side two, and rock songs were mostly collected on side three.
On Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles had insisted there should be no three-second gaps between the songs. A similar policy was adopted for the White Album, and wherever possible the songs were joined via a crossfade or a straight edit.
The day began with these crossfades and edits for the mono version, followed by a mono mix of ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’, the last song to require a mix. The same process was then repeated for the stereo edition of the album.
At some point during the 24-hour session, in the control room of Studio Two, balance engineer Ken Scott and tape operator Dave Harries made a copy of ‘It’s All Too Much’, which had last been worked upon on 12 October 1967. It was not a contender for the White Album, however; it was to be issued in January 1969 on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.
Two mono mixes of ‘It’s All Too Much’ had been created in October 1967. These were never released, however, and a new copy of the four-track tape was made. This copy was, for reasons known only to Scott and Harries, numbered take 196 – the highest take number of any Beatles song. ‘It’s All Too Much’ was then mixed in mono and stereo, requiring just one attempt for each.
On 17 October, George Martin took a copy of the stereo master version of the White Album to be sent to Capitol Records in the USA. New copies of the mono mixes of ‘Yer Blues’ and ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ were added to the mono master on 18 October, after which that version was complete.
The mono pressing of the White Album was cut by EMI’s Harry Moss on 18 and 19 October, and the stereo version on 21 October. It was released in the UK on 22 November 1968, and three days later in the United States.
Also on this day...
- 2019: The Beatles announce Singles Collection vinyl box set
- 2015: Ringo Starr live: State Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 2014: Paul McCartney live: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
- 2013: Paul McCartney live: Maida Vale Studios, London
- 1968: George Harrison flies to Los Angeles
- 1965: Recording: Day Tripper, If I Needed Someone
- 1964: Live: ABC Cinema, Hull
- 1964: Mixing: No Reply
- 1963: Radio: Easy Beat
- 1962: Live: La Scala Ballroom, Runcorn
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.