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Sound engineer's look at Beatles

Geoff Emerick tells what it was like working for Fab Four.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 21:33 IST

There haven't been many people who can say that there was a time when they had had enough and decided to quit working for The Beatles.

But so begins Chapter 11 of Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles by recording engineer Geoff Emerick and co-author Howard Massey.

It was July 1968, and Emerick had his hands on the recording console at Abbey Road Studios, creating the signature distorted guitars for John Lennon's "Revolution."

An impatient Lennon, seemingly forgetful of the hard work his engineer had put into such seminal works as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Bands and Revolver impatiently snorted, "Three months in the Army would have done you good."

A few days later, while recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" for The Beatles (aka The White Album), Paul McCartney snapped at veteran Beatles producer George Martin, after he gave McCartney direction on recording his vocal. "Paul said, 'Well, why don't you come and f***ing sing it.'"

It was the last straw in a painful period in which Emerick saw the world's most famous rock band begin to fall apart.

Unlike other books detailing the group's recording history, Emerick's provides the kind of day-to-day experience of what it was like working with the world's most famous rock group.

At age 15, Emerick was present at The Beatles' very first recording session in September 1962 at the famed EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London, and he recorded their last, in January 1970. He continued to work with former Beatle Paul McCartney over the years, and recorded the group's "reunion" songs in the mid-'90s, "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love."

The Grammy-winner recalls his first sight of the group, at the session which produced "Love Me Do," their first single. "They were young kids. I wasn't terribly impressed."

A more memorable date was in July the following year, when the group, with Beatlemania now in full tilt, came to the studio to record their fourth single, "She Loves You."

"There was always a buzz on days when they were due to come in," Emerick said. The group arrived early for a photo session in the alley behind Abbey Road, driving fans wild.

"When we started to record, fans burst ... into the studios. The Beatles were loving it. Once recording started, the energy from what was happening was reflected in the recording." The disc became the group's third No. 1 single.

First Published: May 13, 2006 21:33 IST

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