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Watch The Beatles rehearse 'Hey Jude' at Abbey Road Studios in 1968


By the late 1960s, The Beatles had rarely strayed outside of their home base of EMI Studios, a location that was later christened Abbey Road in honour of the band’s penultimate album. ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ was partially recorded in EMI’s Paris studio while the band were on tour in 1964, while ‘Baby, You’re A Rich Man’ was tracked at Olympic Sound Studios, the recording space favoured by The Rolling Stones.

Still, before the Get Back sessions that eventually became Let It Be explicitly brought the band out of their comfort zone in Studio Two of EMI, the band found themselves tracking a new song at Trident Studios on July 31st, 1968. Paul McCartney had a new piano ballad he wanted to record post haste, but when the song was judged to be a potential single, the band decided that they wanted the most up-to-date technology for the recording.

Before this time, EMI Studios was limited to using a four-track tape recorder. All the way through the recording of both Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, and the initial sessions of The White Album, The Beatles were limited to these four tracks, becoming masters as “bouncing” tracks to make space for overdubs. This practice became arcane as advanced tape machines became commercially available. EMI actually had an eight track in their possession, but it was stuck in a storage closet before the band demanded it be installed for their use.

Because of EMI’s slow adoption of the eight track, The Beatles began working in other studios that offered more advanced technology. One of those studios was Trident, which Paul McCartney and George Harrison had both used to produce Apple Records acts like James Taylor and Jackie Lomax. Trident had an eight track, so the band and producer George Martin jumped ship to the rival recording space to take advantage of the space’s expanded sonic possibilities.

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The first song tracked at the Trident Studios sessions was ‘Hey Jude’. But before they got there, the band spent July 30th back at EMI to rehearse the song. A camera crew was present, filming for a short documentary. Evidently the band were unphased by the production, and the intimate look into the recording sessions would later be adapted for the Let It Be documentary.

The rehearsal is mainly between McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr. Although present in the recording room at the beginning of the footage, Harrison remains behind the mixing desk in the control room most of the time due to a spat he and McCartney had regarding Harrison’s guitar part. The increasingly fractured nature of recording was beginning to define the sessions for The White Album, and discord between the band members were at a high while running through ‘Hey Jude’. Just a few days before the filming of a promotional video, Starr quit, feeling like he was demoted to an inferior status compared to the other musicians.

Starr returned in time to film the ‘Hey Jude’ video, but tensions remained throughout the rest of the band’s existence. A year and a month after the release of the ‘Hey Jude’ single, Lennon announced his departure to the other members of the band.

Watch the ‘Hey Jude’ rehearsal at EMI Studios down below.