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The Beatles record last ever song with ALL four members 43 years after John Lennon’s death: Band release a short film on the making of single Now and Then: ‘It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room’


The Beatles have released a short film revealing how they made their last song together 43 years after John Lennon‘s death.

The band are releasing the track, Now and Then, which late singer John began recording in the late 1970s before it was unearthed by his wife in the nineties.

Talking on the short film which premiered on the One Show on Wednesday, Paul McCartney said: ‘When we lost John we knew it was really over’. 

However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time.

Referencing George Harrison‘s death, he said: ‘In 2001 we lost George, which took the wind out of our sails, it took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again.’

Back in the studio! The Beatles have released a short film revealing how they made their last song together 43 years after John Lennon 's death (Paul McCartney pictured in the 1990s)

Back in the studio! The Beatles have released a short film revealing how they made their last song together 43 years after John Lennon ‘s death (Paul McCartney pictured in the 1990s)

Demo: The band are releasing the track, Now and Then, which late singer John began recording in the late 1970s before it was unearthed by his wife in the nineties (pictured)

Demo: The band are releasing the track, Now and Then, which late singer John began recording in the late 1970s before it was unearthed by his wife in the nineties (pictured)

Referencing George Harrison 's death, he said: 'In 2001 we lost George, which took the wind out of our sails, it took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again'

Referencing George Harrison ‘s death, he said: ‘In 2001 we lost George, which took the wind out of our sails, it took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again’

Using new technology, which they used during the production of docu-series Get Back, the band were able to separate voices and instruments, giving them hope of working on the track again.

Speaking on hearing John’s voice again for the first time, Ringo said: ‘It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.’ 

A video of John recording the demo at his home in New York’s Dakota Building was given to the rest of the the band in 1994.

It included demos for Free As A Bird and Real Love, which were both completed as new Beatles songs and respectively released as singles in 1995 and 1996, as part of The Beatles Anthology project.

At the same time, Paul, George and Ringo also recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for Now And Then with producer Jeff Lynne.

At that point, technological limitations prevented John’s vocals and piano from being separated to achieve the clear, unclouded mix needed to finish the song.

Now And Then was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited.

Cut to 2021, The Beatles: Get Back docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, was released and viewers were stunned by its award-winning film and audio restoration.

Finally made it! Now And Then was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited

Finally made it! Now And Then was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited

Heartfelt: During the short film, Paul explained within minutes John's voice was heard ringing around the room, crystal clear, as if he was there in person

Heartfelt: During the short film, Paul explained within minutes John’s voice was heard ringing around the room, crystal clear, as if he was there in person

It's not over yet! Talking on the short film which premiered on the One Show on Wednesday, Paul McCartney said: 'When we lost John we knew it was really over'

It’s not over yet! Talking on the short film which premiered on the One Show on Wednesday, Paul McCartney said: ‘When we lost John we knew it was really over’

Band: However, John's wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time

Band: However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time

Back to work: However, John's wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time

Back to work: However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time

Questions: This achievement opened the way to 2022's new mix of Revolver, sourced directly from the four-track master tapes. This led on to a question, what could now be done with the Now And Then demo? (John pictured with Yoko)

Questions: This achievement opened the way to 2022’s new mix of Revolver, sourced directly from the four-track master tapes. This led on to a question, what could now be done with the Now And Then demo? (John pictured with Yoko)

Using WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology, Jackson’s team had de-mixed the film’s mono soundtrack, managing to isolate instruments and vocals, and all the individual voices within The Beatles conversations.

This achievement opened the way to 2022’s new mix of Revolver, sourced directly from the four-track master tapes. This led on to a question, what could now be done with the Now And Then demo? 

Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, applied the same technique to John’s original home recording, preserving the clarity and integrity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano.

During the short film, Paul explained within minutes John’s voice was heard ringing around the room, crystal clear, as if he was there in person.

In 2022, Paul and Ringo set about completing the song. Besides John’s vocal, ‘Now And Then’ includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by George, Ringo’s new drum part, and bass, guitar and piano from Paul, which matches John’s original playing. Paul added a slide guitar solo inspired by George; he and Ringo also contributed backing vocals to the chorus.

In Los Angeles, Paul oversaw a Capitol Studios recording session for the song’s wistful, quintessentially Beatles string arrangement, written by Giles Martin, Paul and Ben Foster. 

Paul and Giles also added one last, wonderfully subtle touch: backing vocals from the original recordings of ‘Here, There And Everywhere’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Because’, woven into the new song using the techniques perfected during the making of the LOVE show and album. 

The finished track was produced by Paul and Giles, and mixed by Spike Stent.

Paul says: ‘There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.’

News of the final song was announced earlier this summer, however it has now been confirmed it will be released on November 2, premiering on Scott Mills’ radio show on BBC R2 at 2pm.

It will also be available on a newly-mastered version of the band’s Red And Blue album, which is due for release on November 10.

Release: News of the final song was announced earlier this summer , however it has now been confirmed it will be released on November 2, premiering on Scott Mills' radio show on BBC R2 at 2pm

Release: News of the final song was announced earlier this summer , however it has now been confirmed it will be released on November 2, premiering on Scott Mills’ radio show on BBC R2 at 2pm 

The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York on February 9, 1964

The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York on February 9, 1964

The new single contains guitar that George had recorded nearly three decades ago, a new drum part by Starr, with McCartney’s bass, piano and a slide guitar solo he added as a tribute to Harrison, who died in 2001.

The two surviving band members also sing back-up on the track.

Paul also added a string arrangement written with the help of Giles Martin, son of the late Beatles producer George Martin.

As if that wasn’t enough, they weaved in backing vocals from the original Beatles recordings of Here, There And Everywhere, Eleanor Rigby and Because.

Later in the month, expanded versions of the Beatles’ compilations 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 will be released. Now And Then, despite coming much later than 1970, will be added to the latter collection.

The surviving Beatles have skilfully released new projects, such as remixes of their old albums that include studio outtakes and Jackson’s Get Back film, timed to appeal to nostalgic fans around the holiday season.

But this will mark the last one. 

‘This is the last track, ever, that you’ll get the four Beatles on the track. John, Paul, George, and Ringo,’ the latter said in a recent interview with Associated Press.



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