34. The piano sound on “Penny Lane” was achieved by layering three piano tracks on top of each other, recorded at different speeds, before each was speeded up or down to match the right key.
35. The trumpeter who played the piccolo trumpet solo at the end of “Penny Lane”., David Mason, claimed it’s not speeded up and that he can still play it perfectly.
36. Lennon and Harrison were first given LSD in coffee by their dentist without them knowing. Harrison said: “We’d just sat down and ordered our drinks when suddenly I felt the most incredible feeling come over me. It was something like a very concentrated version of the best feeling I’d ever had in my whole life.”
37. In 1967 the NME ran a series of interviews about The Beatles’ dreams. McCartney dreamed about being caught in the street in his underwear, while Harrison projected his fear of flying into vivid plane-crash dreams. “It was all funny though: me legs were burnin’ but they weren’t like hurtin’!”
38. When Lennon sang “I read the news today, oh boy” in “A Day in the Life”, he was referring to the death of Tara Browne, a millionaire member of the London counterculture movement and friend to The Beatles, who died in a car crash in 1966. The report of his inquest – including the observation that people “stood and stared” – was in the Daily Mail on 17 January 1967, as was a story about holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.
39. The famous final chord in “A Day in the Life” was played simultaneously by Lennon, McCartney, Starr, Martin, and the band’s road manager, Mal Evans, on three separate pianos.
40. For the opening title track of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, McCartney replaced a guitar solo from Harrison that took seven hours to record with his own guitar part, according to Martin in Summer of Love, his account of the making of the album.
41. Lennon saw the poster that inspired “Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!” advertising a circus in Rochdale, Lancashire in 1843, in an antiques shop in Sevenoaks, Kent, while filming the video for “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
42. It reads: “Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal, Town-Meadows, Rochdale. Grandest night of the season! And positively the LAST NIGHT BUT THREE! Being for the benefit of Mr Kite (late of Wells’ Circus) and MR J HENDERSON, the celebrated Somerset thrower! Wire dancer, vaulter, rider, etc.”
43. Lennon asked Martin to make “Mr Kite” sound like a fairground. But then he also once asked him to make a song sound like an orange.
44. “Lovely Rita” is allegedly based on a meeting between McCartney and a friendly parking warden called Meta Davies in St John’s Wood. McCartney says this was a coincidence.
45. Lennon wanted Hitler to be included in the sea of faces on the Sgt. Pepper album cover, but was overruled at the last minute.
46. “She’s Leaving Home” was inspired by a real story in the Daily Mirror on 27 February 1967 about a 17-year-old girl, Melanie Coe, who ran away from home. As Beatles writer Steve Turner put it, the song accurately guesses at some of the details of her life, completely accidentally.
47. While recording “All You Need Is Love”, Harrison played a violin despite having never touched one.
48. The Our World broadcast on 1 June 1967 was the world’s first satellite TV broadcast and was seen by an estimated 350 million people. The Beatles represented the UK, performing “All You Need Is Love” to close the show.
49. Lennon appeared in his first film without The Beatles in 1967’s How I Won the War (referenced in “A Day in the Life”), alongside Michael Crawford, who later found fame in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, and Roy Kinnear, who played Veruca Salt’s father in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
50. The front cover for the US-only album Yesterday and Today featured the band dressed as butchers, while holding cleavers, with disturbing dolls and pieces of meat surrounding them. There is a (lengthy) explanation but it appears to have been the photographer’s idea, which the band apparently found funny.
51. Among the bizarre things that The Beatles’ company, Apple, did was put out a single by the Black Dyke Mills Band, a well-respected brass band from West Yorkshire. The track was called “Thingummybob” and was written for a TV show of the same name. The B-side was their version of “Yellow Submarine”.
52. Among the abandoned Apple ideas, according to an NME report at the time, was a film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, something that wasn’t fully achieved by anyone until Peter Jackson’s epic series 35 years later.
53. The BBC banned “I Am the Walrus” not for its anti-establishment tone, but because it contains the word “knickers”.
54. The animated Yellow Submarine film isn’t voiced by the band, but by actors. McCartney was played by Geoffrey Hughes, who went on to star in The Royle Family, in which he played the slobbish Twiggy, and Keeping Up Appearances, in which he was Onslow.
55. “Hey Jude” was originally called “Hey Jules” and directed at Lennon’s 5-year-old son, Julian.
56. Lennon considered it to be McCartney’s greatest song, and persuaded him to keep the strange line “the movement you need is on your shoulder”.
57. Rumours that “Paul is dead” started after McCartney was injured in a moped accident in 1966 and grew a moustache to hide the cut on his lip.
58. People thought Lennon was mumbling “I buried Paul” at the end of “Strawberry Fields”, but it was actually “cranberry sauce”, for no apparent reason.
59. The “Paul is dead” meme became deeply enough ingrained in popular culture to be referenced on the front cover of a Batman comic in 1970.
60. McCartney played the drums on “Back in the USSR” and “Dear Prudence” from The Beatles, aka the White Album, after Starr stormed out of the band, only to return a week later.
61. “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”, from the medley section of Abbey Road, really is based on a true story: A fan used a ladder in Paul’s back garden to climb in the bathroom window, before stealing a picture of his father, some clothes, and some slides of photos taken by Linda Eastman (who would soon become Linda McCartney).
62. Frank Sinatra called Harrison’s “Something”, which he often performed live, “the greatest love song of the last 50 years”. And he sang a few.
63. The band’s internal fights were often ridiculous. During the making of Abbey Road, Harrison was incensed when Yoko Ono took one his chocolate digestive biscuits without asking.
64. Lennon said many, many strange things during interviews. During the final days of the band he told the NME: “I regret that Yoko wasn’t my child. I don’t like the idea of her being born in someone else’s womb. That’s one of my great jealousies. It’s a drag that she was in somebody else’s womb, but I can’t do anything about it.”
65. From the same interview: “I like to play conceptual chess, rather than have the chess on the board.”
66. The Beatles’ split was acrimonious and messy but despite their public feuding, Lennon and McCartney did keep in touch. During Lennon’s 1973–74 separation from Ono, the two musicians jammed together in Los Angeles with Stevie Wonder on keyboards. There’s even a recording of it (it’s a complete druggy mess).