How the Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ got its psychedelic sound

News 11/02/2020

During the sessions for the Beatles' 1966 album Revolver, the band had decided to give up trying to record music to perform live and instead started to explore the full potential of the studio environment. 

A young sound engineer at the time, Geoff Emerick, was given the opportunity to show off his skills when John Lennon decided he would like to pursue an unusual sound for the band's song 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. 

"We started doing 'Tomorrow Never Knows,' and John wants this magical Dali Lama vocal sound," he said. "And there's the revolving speaker, the Leslie speaker from the Hammond organ. So, 'Wow, let's put John's voice through that!'" said Emerick. 

Listen to the track that kicked off Emerick's success with the Fab Four below.

Asked if that had ever been done before, Emerick said, "No, not at all. ... When John heard the sound of his voice taped with that sound on it, he just beamed. So that was part of my sort of acceptance. Then gradually changing Ringo's drum sound... I had all these different drum sounds in my head."

Emerick then enjoyed a successful run with the Beatles following this, including the stressful experience of overseeing their segment of the Our World global TV broadcast in 1967. Unfortunately, Emerick passed away in 2018 at the age of 72.