Live At The Hollywood Bowl was a remixed version of The Beatles’ 1977 album The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl.
The Beatles performed on three occasions at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. The first was on their first full US tour on 23 August 1964.
The Hollywood Bowl was marvellous. It was the one we all enjoyed most, I think, even though it wasn’t the largest crowd – because it seemed so important, and everybody was saying things. We got on, and it was a big stage, and it was great. We could be heard in a place like the Hollywood Bowl, even though the crowds was wild: good acoustics.
The Beatles’ producer George Martin had wanted to capture their live set, and Capitol Records decided to record the group at the first Hollywood Bowl show. Martin flew to Los Angeles, where he worked with Capitol’s producer Voyle Gilmore on the recording.
George Martin made such a speech. It sounds like he changed it but I doubt it. There’s not much he could do. It was recorded on three-track machines with half-inch tapes. The Hollywood Bowl has a pretty good stereo sound system so we plugged our mikes right in there. I didn’t do an awful lot. There wasn’t much we could do. They just played their usual show and we recorded it. It wasn’t that bad. I kept thinking, ‘Maybe we’ll get permission to release the tapes.’ So I took them back to the studio and worked on it a while. I worked on the applause, edited it down, made it play and EQd it quite a bit.
The Beatles heard it and they all wanted tape copies. I had five or six copies made and sent over. That’s where the bootlegs must have come from. We had a system at Capitol and we knew where all our copies were. The Beatles said they liked the tapes, that it sounded pretty good, that they were surprised but they still didn’t want to release it.
I thought the first concert was a little better than the second. I don’t know if I would have put them together like they did because doing it that way they have sacrificed an album. They really could have made two albums.
Martin was initially reluctant to tape the concert, and after mixing the tracks Capitol decided the recording quality was not good enough to release. They did, however, include a 48-second extract from ‘Twist And Shout’ on the 1964 documentary album The Beatles’ Story.
We recorded it on three-track tape, which was standard US format then. You would record the band in stereo on two tracks and keep the voice separated on the third, so that you could bring it up or down in the mix. But at the Hollywood Bowl they didn’t use three-track in quite the right way. I didn’t have too much say in things because I was a foreigner, but they did some very bizarre mixing. In 1977, when I was asked to make an album from the tapes, I found guitars and voices mixed on the same track. And the recording seemed to concentrate more on the wild screaming of 18,700 kids than on the Beatles on stage.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
In 1971 the tapes were given to Phil Spector to see if an album could be prepared. However, Spector’s work came to nothing, and the tapes remained unreleased for several more years.
Capitol called me a few months back and asked if I could help find the tapes in the library and, of course, I knew right where they were. They wanted to get permission to put them out and thought it would be useful if George Martin was involved, since he knew the boys and had made all their other records.
In the mid-1970s Capitol president Bhaskar Menon gave George Martin the tapes and asked him to compile an official live album. Although impressed with The Beatles’ performances, he found the sound quality disappointing. Nonetheless, in January 1977 he began working with studio engineer Geoff Emerick to clean up the master tapes and assemble a set of songs for release.
Eventually an album was assembled consisting of recordings from all three Hollywood Bowl concerts: The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl.
A technical fault left Paul McCartney’s vocals and introductions inaudible during the first four songs of the 29 August 1965 show. The 1977 release did, however, include three of the songs – ‘Ticket To Ride’, ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’, and ‘Help!’.
Five songs were taken from the 30 August 1965 show: ‘Twist And Shout’, ‘She’s A Woman’, ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. The version of ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ was a composite edit incorporating parts of the 29 and 30 August performances.
Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
In 2016 a new documentary film about The Beatles directed by Ron Howard was released. Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years covered the group’s journey from Liverpool to their final concert in San Francisco in 1966.
To coincide with the release, George Martin’s son Giles remixed the Hollywood Bowl recordings for a new album, Live At The Hollywood Bowl.
A few years ago Capitol Studios called saying they’d discovered some Hollywood Bowl three track tapes in their archive. We transferred them and noticed an improvement over the tapes we’ve kept in the London archive. Alongside this I’d been working for some time with a team headed by technical engineer James Clarke on demix technology, the ability to remove and separate sounds from a single track. With Sam Okell, I started work on remixing the Hollywood Bowl tapes. Technology has moved on since my father worked on the material all those years ago. Now there’s improved clarity, and so the immediacy and visceral excitement can be heard like never before. My father’s words still ring true, but what we hear now is the raw energy of four lads playing together to a crowd that loved them. This is the closest you can get to being at the Hollywood Bowl at the height of Beatlemania. We hope you enjoy the show…
The live album was released on 9 September 2016, seven years to the day after the release of the band’s remastered catalogue and the video game The Beatles: Rock Band.
In addition to the original 13 tracks, the 2016 album contained four bonus songs: ‘You Can’t Do That’ and ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ from 23 August 1964, and ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’ and ‘Baby’s In Black’ from 30 August 1965. The version of ‘Baby’s In Black’ had previously been released on the ‘Real Love’ single in 1996.
Without thinking about the original version of the Hollywood Bowl, I chose the best tracks that I thought would work best and I ended up using the same tracks my dad chose in 1977. I guess I learned something off him as I was growing up! So the ones that were more difficult we tended to avoid because if there’s a big glitch in the recording or the microphone’s not working or there’s a glaring error in a performance we just didn’t use it.
Rock Cellar Magazine