Sir Paul reveals the mistake that gave the Beatles a hit

You’ve got to give Paul credit for still going out and speaking to crowds about his music. He has been getting honorary degrees and speaking at commencements. This year, he has spoken to the graduating class of the Liverpool Performing Arts Institute.

Wanting the focus to be on the graduates, the musician - nibbling on a biscuit - tried to sneak out the back entrance to the hall but was swamped by fans

Wanting the focus to be on the graduates, the musician - nibbling on a biscuit - tried to sneak out the back entrance to the hall but was swamped by fans

Sometimes, though, memories can get a bit hazy, as this news articles shows. The article doesn’t go into great detail, but Sir Paul told this graduating class about how a mistake led to something revolutionary in the Beatles recording.
But, the real story, as recorded in the great resource book “That Magic Feeling” by John C. Winn, this backwards taping mistake was for the song Rain, not identified in this article.
While trying to play it [“Rain”] back at home, he threaded the tape backwards by mistake and (being stoned at the time), loved what he heard…John mentioned [later] his moment of reverse-enlightenment to George Martin…. [That Magic Feeling, page. 12]
So, George Martin took the tapes, flipped the reels backwards, and there you have the effect made famous. Seems the article about McCartney’s words at the graduation ceremony don’t tell the whole story.
Here’s what we’ve read:

Sir Paul McCartney reveals the mistake

that gave the Beatles a hit

After a lifetime in showbusiness, Sir Paul McCartney is one of the world’s most respected musicians. So his audience on Friday was surprised to hear him say a mistake gave the Beatles one of their biggest success stories.

Speaking to this year’s graduates at his Liverpool Performing Arts Institute, the 66-year-old told the students how, when recording the Beatles’ album Revolver in the 60s, a mistake led to a tape being played backwards. The sound led to the group creating the psychedelic effect which made the album one of the era’s most defining records.

“We caught hold of the accident when it happened,” he added, advising the audience they should do the same.

As well as passing on his wisdom, the Scouser presented the awards during the two-hour ceremony at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall. The musician also handed over companionships – the institute’s version of an honorary doctorate – to singer-songwriter Cathy Dennis and actor John Hurt, who said he was “thrilled to be here and part of it all”.

And since the stories are related, here is an additional story about the graduaction ceremonies McCartney attended.

Here’s what we’ve also read:

Sir Paul McCartney in town for LIPA graduation

Sir Paul McCartney an John Hurt at LIPA

Sir Paul McCartney today led graduation celebrations at the “fame” school he set up in his home city.

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (Lipa) opened in 1996 after a long campaign by the former Beatle.

Alongside the graduating students, the actor John Hurt CBE, Grammy Award winner Cathy Dennis and composer Nitin Sawhney were made honorary Companions of the Institute.

Other Companions this year included record producer Trevor Horn, who launched the career of Liverpool band Frankie Goes To Hollywood, music industry lawyer Ann Harrison and choreographer Lea Anderson.

Sir Paul, 66, who remains lead patron of Lipa, gave a speech to the graduates before they were presented with their certificates.

Lipa offers degree qualifications in acting, dance, music and theatre studies.

Lipa Companionships are awarded in recognition of contributions to the world of arts and entertainment.

A spokeswoman for institute said: “All Companions are also committed to sharing their expertise with Lipa students and most have provided masterclasses at the institute.”


One Response

  1. Great, this puts the spotlight on the mystery: who discovered play reversed tapes ? Of course, Rain was recorded during the Revolver sessions, so sir Paul’s remarks are slightly ambiguous.

    At least 3 people make this claim:

    1) George Martin was ‘always playing around with tapes……so I lifted John’s vocals…. turned it around and slid it back…” (from Beatles Recording Sessions). If this is true (and who would doubt sir George), then reversed tapes were discovered on April 14 1966, during recording of Rain.

    2) John Lennon claims to have discoverd reversed tapes when he accidently mounted a tape of Rain backwards in his recorder at his home. I have a problem with this theory: Rain was recorded on April 14, so John could have taken a tape home that day. However, Rain was mixed on April 17, without any Beatle being present, and there were no recording sesions onApril 15 and 16 ! So when and where did John reveal his discovery, if not in the studio (which is implied in John’s comments) ?

    3) Paul McCartney,with help form unnamed technician. During recording of I’m only sleeping, on April 26, “they were taping George’s guitar solo and the tape operator put the tape on tail out. It played backwards, and we said, hey, that’s fantastic !” (from Many Years From Now).

    I have a problem with this claim too: it is late in the Revolver sessions, and it appears that backwards tapes were applied prior to April 26; furthermore, the technicians were Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald, who – I expect – would have rreported thisgreat Event in their books/interviews if it happened that way.

    My conclusion: Hurray for Nitram Egroeg ! Lennon & McCartney both remembered things in good faith, but the facts are slightly less glamorous for either one. Not the first, and (for Sir Paul) probably not the last time this happens…

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