sound for film & video

It was 50 years ago today…

…that the Beatles — soon to be the most famous band in the world — first set foot in the building that they, in a few years time, would turn into the most famous recording studio in the world.

At the time it was known only by the prosaic title of “EMI Studios.” On that evening the recording staff (balance engineer Norman Smith, technical engineer Ken Townsend, George Martin’s assistant Ron Richards, and later in the evening Martin himself)  witnessed the first arrival of three of the future Fab Four, along with their current drummer Pete Best. By all recollections nobody knew at first what to make of the quiet, scrappy-looking young musicians who would, in short order, be wiping clean the face of recorded music and reconstructing it according to their own whims.

They performed a cover of “Besame Mucho”, along with three Lennon/McCartney originals: “P.S. I Love You”, “Ask Me Why,” and their eventual debut single “Love Me Do”, none of which appeared to impress the assembled personnel very much. Then George Harrison made his famous quip about George Martin’s tie, the stoic producer and his staff burst into laughter, and the wheels of history began turning and would not stop for another seven years. It’s fascinating to imagine that the world of pop music might be entirely different today had Harrison not chosen that very moment to break the ice with signature Beatle humor.

As an obsessive Beatlesphile (and you’d be hard pressed to find a recording engineer in the world who doesn’t have a little of that in him or her) I plan to celebrate by spending the next 8 years listening to every completed song and every bootleg take I can on the 50th anniversary of the day each was first committed to tape. (“Besame Mucho” and “Love Me Do” are the only two surviving songs from June 6, 1962, and are available on Anthology 1.)

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