The Fab Four’s sound engineer, present from their first single to their final album, tells all about sharing studio time with the biggest rock band in history.
Raised in North London, Emerick became enamored with recorded music as a tot, and with recording it as a teen. A combination of luck and persistence led to his first job, at age 16, at EMI Studios (later renamed Abbey Road), where he spent the next few decades. Within a month, he witnessed the first recording session of a quartet of scruffy Liverpudlians; just three years later, he was thrown into the fire as their sound engineer, working under the legendary “Fifth Beatle,” producer George Martin. Decades of all-night recording sessions, simultaneously invigorating and frustrating, followed, and album upon album of innovative, groundbreaking pop classics were recorded, peaking with the universally adored Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and falling to a painful nadir with the spotty Abbey Road. The author writes little of his personal life outside the studio, as he seemed to live and breathe his work. In the end, the reader knows the Beatles about as well as Emerick did—that is, not all that well, as he repeatedly admits. Admirably evenhanded, Emerick makes no secret of his affinity for Paul, whom he characterizes as polite and good-natured, but remains diplomatic when discussing each Beatle (and even Yoko). This British politeness at times works against the book, which can be dry. Overall, however, Emerick provides an informative introduction to the creative process of the 20th century’s most influential rock musicians.
Extremely technical and sure to alienate non-geeks, but nonetheless an illuminating chronicle.