Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Jeff Jarratt
John Lennon and Paul McCartney had recorded ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’ on 14 April 1969. Two days later, three of The Beatles met at Abbey Road to record its b-side, George Harrison’s song ‘Old Brown Shoe’.
There were two separate sessions on this day. From 2.30-5pm Harrison recorded a solo demo of ‘Old Brown Shoe’ in a single take.
He had previously demoed the song on 25 February 1969. On this day, however, his demo was recorded over once The Beatles’ session began at 7pm. It is likely that Harrison played the recording to them for reference before work began.
Ringo Starr was absent from the session, due to filming commitments on The Magic Christian. The drums on the song were instead played by Paul McCartney.
The Beatles recorded the backing track for ‘Old Brown Shoe’ in just four takes, although the first was incomplete. Take two was included on some formats of the 50th anniversary reissue of Abbey Road. Take four, meanwhile, became the basis of the single version.
Track one of the eight-track tape contained McCartney’s drums, while the second and third featured Harrison’s guide vocals and electric guitar respectively. John Lennon’s piano part was recorded on track four.
A range of overdubs were then added to take four. McCartney’s bass guitar part and another guitar part by Harrison were recorded on track six. Harrison then added lead vocals to track two, with backing from Lennon and McCartney.
Additional backing vocals by Lennon and McCartney were then recorded on track five. All of the vocals parts were intentionally distorted by studio engineer Jeff Jarratt.
With work on ‘Old Brown Shoe’ finished for the night, The Beatles began work on Harrison’s most celebrated Beatles song, ‘Something’. This, too, had been demoed on 25 February, and had been played during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions on 28 and 29 January.
The Beatles taped 13 instrumental takes in this initial session, with Harrison on rhythm guitar, Paul McCartney on drums, Lennon on bass guitar, and George Martin on piano. The recording was later abandoned in favour of a remake on 2 May 1969.
Before the session ended at 2.45am, three stereo mixes of ‘Old Brown Shoe’ were made. None of them was used, and further overdubs were added on 18 April 1969.
Also on this day...
- 2021: Album release: McCartney III Imagined by Paul McCartney
- 1966: Recording, mixing: Rain
- 1965: Television: Ready, Steady, Go!
- 1964: Recording: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1964: Filming: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1963: Television: Scene At 6.30
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
Something is wrong: second sentence: “Two days later all four members of The Beatles met at Abbey Road to record its b-side, (…)”; below: “Ringo Starr was absent from the session, due to filming commitments on The Magic Christian”.
I guess the fragment about Ringo’s absence was added after the release White Album 50th anniversary box set.
But … an interesting and convincing suggestion that Ringo played the drums in this great song is on the site: https://www.beatlesebooks.com/old-brown-shoe