Although none of them knew it at the time, 1 August 1969 was a significant date for The Beatles: it marked the final time that all four members began recording a song together.
It took 23 attempts to perfect, and take 16 was chosen as the best. Only takes 1, 16, and 23 were complete.
George Martin played an electric spinet Baldwin harpsichord, Lennon was on electric guitar, Paul McCartney played bass guitar.
Ringo Starr kept time with handclaps on track four, for guide purposes only. Take one of ‘Because’, with the handclaps audible, can be heard on some formats of the 50th anniversary reissue of Abbey Road.
The recordings had McCartney’s bass guitar on track one, Lennon’s guitar on two, and Martin’s electric harpsichord on three.
On ‘Because’, for example, very much a John song, it needed the combined singing of the three men. So obviously it became a joint effort…
That particular track started off with John having the idea, the sort of riff on the guitar, which he played to me, and the basic song which he sang to me. And what we did then, we created a backing with him still playing the guitar, that riff, and I duplicated exactly every note that he played on the guitar, on an electric harpsichord, and Paul played bass.
And there was nothing for Ringo to do, because we’d not got drums in. But in fact there was something for him to do. Because it was so slow, and meticulously, the question of ensemble between the guitar and the harpsichord, each note had to be exactly together. And I’m not the world’s greatest player in time, and I would make more mistakes than John did. So we had Ringo beating a hi-hat all the time, to us in headphones, so we had a regular beat. We didn’t have drum machines in those days. So Ringo was our drum machine, and that was the way we did the track.
Interview with Richard Buskin, 3 March 1987
Having done the backing track, John, Paul and George sang the harmony. Then we overlaid it twice more, making nine-part harmony altogether, three voices recorded three times. I was literally telling them what notes to sing.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
Also on this day...
- 2011: Paul McCartney live: Wrigley Field, Chicago
- 2009: Paul McCartney live: FedEx Field, Washington
- 1971: Live: The Concert For Bangla Desh
- 1968: Recording: Hey Jude
- 1967: George and Pattie Harrison fly to Los Angeles
- 1966: Interview: David Frost At The Phonograph
- 1965: Television: Blackpool Night Out
- 1963: Radio: Pop Go The Beatles
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.