Recording: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Phil McDonald

The Beatles began the recording of the Abbey Road song Maxwell's Silver Hammer during this 2.30-10.15pm session.

On 1 July 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono had been involved in a car crash in Scotland, and this was his first session following a recuperation period. Ono was less well, however, and a double bed was brought into the studio for her to be near to her husband.

We were setting up the microphones for the session and this huge double-bed arrived. An ambulance brought Yoko in and she was lowered down onto the bed, we set up a microphone over her in case she wanted to participate and then we all carried on as before! We were saying, 'Now we've seen it all, folks!'
Martin Benge, studio technician
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Maxwell's Silver Hammer had previously been performed on 3, 7, 8 and 10 January 1969 during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions. Paul McCartney was convinced it was a potential single, but the rest of the group were less enthusiastic.

Aside from a Moog overdub in August, the song was completed in three consecutive sessions in July 1969. On this first day 16 takes of the backing track were recorded, with McCartney on piano and guide vocals, George Harrison playing bass guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums.

The takes were numbered 1-21, although there were no takes 6-10. Towards the end of the session acoustic guitars were overdubbed onto the last two choruses of take 21.

The Beatles crossing Abbey Road, 8 August 1969

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3 responses on “Recording: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

    1. Joe Post author

      I don’t know. Although he was present there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of him being on the recording. He complained that the sessions went on forever, which a) might be a reference to when they played it during the Let It Be sessions in January 1969, and/or b) waiting around made it seem like even longer than it was if he wasn’t involved.

  1. Paul D

    I was just reading in Geoff Emerick’s book that John turned up on this day showed no enthusiasm for getting involved on any songs apart from his own which was some days later. I do wonder if this song was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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