May 26, 1966: Beatles Record ‘Yellow Submarine’

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beatles Sub-Rigbey 45sleeveIntended as a children’s song written for Ringo Starr to sing, the seemingly psychedelic number, “Yellow Submarine,” was subject to many later interpretations and includes lyrical contributions by an uncredited Donovan (“sky of blue and sea of green”). The basic tracks were recorded on May 26, 1966, by engineer Geoff Emerick without producer George Martin who was suffering from a bout of food poisoning.

However, while preparing the 2022 deluxe edition of Revolver at Abbey Road Studios, producer Giles Martin made a discovery. “I had thought it was very much a Paul McCartney song sung by Ringo.” But the tape reveals John Lennon crafted and developed it early with an acoustic, folk-y feel. “You hear the John and Paul collaboration and it becomes what we know today.”

The many sound effects and backing vocals that we’ve come to know were added on June 1. Among those heard singing along on the chorus are Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Pattie Boyd (who George Harrison married earlier that year), Beatles associates Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, along with Martin and Emerick.

It would be released as a double-sided 45 RPM single with “Eleanor Rigby” on August 5 and hit #1 on the U.K. charts, staying there for four weeks. It would go on to reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 – the highest charting Fab Four song with Starr on lead vocals.

“…sky of blue and sea of green…”

It also inspired the 1968 animated movie of the same name which combined pioneering animation techniques, dazzling visual invention, witty dialogue and of course glorious music.

And here’s “Eleanor Rigby”…

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