New York (February 14, 2006)–Recording engineer Geoff Emerick was only 15 when he became an assistant engineer at EMI, witnessing the first studio recording by the Beatles. Within four years, he was helming the desk for Revolver and went on to record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band–and that was only the start of his carreer. Looking back at that storied past now, 40 years on, Emerick has teamed with Howard Massey to write his autobiography, Here, There And Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles, due out next month from Gotham Books.
The book traces the four-time Grammy winner and recording industry legend’s years he spent at EMI studios at Abbey Road. As Emerick relates in his memoir, the Beatles often had ideas that required more than just turning knobs and splicing tape. For Lennon’s vocals on “Yellow Submarine,” Emerick put a condom-wrapped microphone into a bottle of water so that Lennon could hear what he sounded like when submerged (the track wasn’t used); Emerick also routed Lennon’s singing through revolving speakers when the musician wanted to sound like “the Dalai Lama chanting from a hilltop” on “Tomorrow Never Knows.” For “A Day in the Life,” Emerick had to stretch the boundaries of recording technology to get the song’s final, unforgettable piano chord.
Emerick also tells how the creative personalities of the band members led to frequent disagreements and long-held grudges, even as they were producing their greatest songs. The diplomatic McCartney frequently clashed with the tempestuous Lennon, a sullen Harrison often resented the lack of attention to his compositions, and Starr, less interested than the others in making music, rarely had much to say to anyone. As the Beatles quit touring and confined their artistic output to the recording studio, Emerick witnessed every flare-up, every temporary resolution, and every crack in their musical partnership that would ultimately lead to their dissolution. He was there in the early days when the band had to hide from screaming teenage girls who had stormed the building, he was on hand to see Yoko Ono install a bed in the recording studio during the Abbey Road sessions (to the horror of Lennon’s bandmates), and he witnessed how the Beatles spent their last months as a band recording in different studios individually.
Emerick also shares stories of his post-Beatles career, including his trip to Nigeria with McCartney and his band Wings to record their Band On the Run album-which, despite monsoons, the theft of the demo tapes, and threats from local singers concerned that their musical heritage was being compromised, came together as one of Paul’s best post-Beatles works.