Abbey Road. In the Studio, Not the Street.
Maybe it was because of the disastrous “Get Back” sessions the preceding January.
Paul McCartney thought it would be a good idea to get The Beatles into a film studio and rehearse new songs for a live concert. And it was decided that the whole thing should be filmed for a possible documentary.
It didn’t go as planned.
The bickering that had started during the White album only got worse. The whole project was basically scrapped, with the “concert” being (now famously) held on the rooftop of their own Apple building.
Somehow the next late spring and summer they decided to go back into Abbey Road studio and make a record “the way they used to”.
With one exception.
There were no cameras.
Since The Beatles first recording sessions there was almost ALWAYS a photographer around for at least part of them to capture history. Manager Brian Epstein seemed to know that something special was happening, and it needed to be preserved. Plus the fact is was just good promo.
Whether it was Robert Freeman or Robert Whitaker, someone was there to snap some photos of the group at work.
But if you are a Beatle fan you have probably noticed that you have seen very few from the last recording sessions that they ever had as a group.
You are welcome.
The origins of these are a bit murky. But mostly they are “home” photographs. Mainly taken by wives who up until the year before were not allowed in the studio.
George Harrison And Paul McCartney working on a guitar and vocal overdub for “Here Comes The Sun”
John Lennon had a car wreck in Scotland right before the sessions started. (He was a well-known terrible driver). He and Yoko were banged up, so the first few weeks of the sessions were without him. Here George, Paul and Ringo listen to an early playback at Abbey Road studio.
Here is an odd one. John Lennon finally came to the studio for the sessions after the car wreck. His wife Yoko required stitches and was still bruised, so Lennon insisted that a bed be brought in the studio for Yoko to lounge around in. What is even stranger in this photo is the sight of two Beatle wives, Yoko and Linda McCartney together in the bed talking to The Beatles road manager Mal Evans. Yoko and Linda did not socialize often….
John Lennon and Paul McCartney doing vocals. This is thought to be for “The End” which would make it the last recording session for the two of them as Beatles. The picture looks like it was taken from the bed in the above photo. And…in case you were wondering. Those seem to be Yoko’s feet.
George Harrison brought in a new toy for The Beatles to use during the sessions. A Moog Synthesizer. This picture was taken when it arrived and shows Paul McCartney tinkering with it. It was used on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “I Want you (She’s so Heavy)”
Even though The Beatles never said it out loud, they all suspected this might be their last album. But according to producer George Martin, the sessions were not ugly and tense. Quite the opposite. Martin is quoted as saying they were very pleasant. These pictures seems to prove that. George and Paul during a vocal harmony recording.
Ringo in the drum isolation area. Notice the towel on the snare drum to deaden the sound. Some of Ringo’s best work was on these sessions. No question.
Paul McCartney doing his vocal track for “Oh! Darling” He would come in before the others almost every day and try the vocal once, maybe twice. He wanted a raw and “live” sound to his voice for the song.
The first photograph shows the two Beatles in their “normal” positions. McCartney on bass, Harrison on guitar. But they obviously would change-up occasionally. Harrison with a Fender bass that he played on much of side two’s “medley”, and McCartney with his favorite Epiphone Casino electric guitar.
Photos from The Beatles last recording session as a group.
The working title for the album was “Everest”. There was even talk about flying to Mount Everest for a cover shoot. But then the idea of just naming it after the road the studio was on where they had literally recorded almost all of their work came to them. Then all they had to do was walk outside and cross the street.
You’ve seen that photograph.