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.

Paul McCartney's lyrics for Maxwell's Silver Hammer

The 21 takes had George Harrison’s bass guitar recorded onto track one; Ringo Starr’s drums on track two; McCartney’s piano on track three, and his vocals on track eight.

Take five, recorded on that day, was preserved on the Anthology 3 album, revealing how the song sounded at this early stage. McCartney sings and plays piano, with Harrison on bass guitar and Starr on drums. Take 12, meanwhile, was included on some formats of the 50th anniversary reissue of Abbey Road.

Last updated: 26 June 2023
Recording, mixing: Here Comes The Sun
Recording, mixing: Maxwell's Silver Hammer
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