Get Back/Let It Be sessions: day 10

The tenth day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions was the final one at Twickenham Film Studios.

Paul McCartney – Twickenham Film Studios, 16 January 1969

The Beatles had decided to relocate to the basement studio at their Apple Corps headquarters at 3 Savile Row, London, a condition of George Harrison rejoining. Harrison had walked out of the band on 10 January 1969.

On this day, 16 January 1969, the set at Twickenham was dismantled by Mal Evans, Kevin Harrington, and Glyn Johns. The Beatles were not scheduled to attend, but Paul McCartney turned up to record a piano demo of the future Abbey Road song ‘Oh! Darling’.

The demo recording, produced and engineered by Glyn Johns, was shown in Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary Get Back.

After the completion of McCartney’s demo, George Harrison arrived at Twickenham to meet Glyn Johns. The pair travelled to Apple Corps’ headquarters at 3 Savile Row, London, to inspect the recording studio Alexis ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas had been constructing in the basement.

They found the facilities substandard, with unacceptable levels of distortion and hiss, and realised they would be unable to proceed with The Beatles’ project without new equipment. Johns contacted George Martin with an urgent request for replacement gear, which EMI agreed to lend to Apple.

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

The equipment was installed by Dave Harries and Keith Slaughter, plus engineers from EMI, who worked through the weekend to make the studio suitable for The Beatles. They connected two portable four-track mixing consoles, which fed sound into Harrison’s eight-track 3M tape machine.

The mixing console was sold as scrap to a secondhand electronics shop in the Edgware Road for £5. It wasn’t worth any more.
Last updated: 7 January 2022
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