McCartney Times

Geoff Emerick

Geoff Emerick

Geoff Emerick

Geoffrey Emerick (born in 1946) is an English recording studio audio engineer, who is best known for his work with the Beatles on their albums Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles and Abbey Road. 

Emerick first started working as an assistant engineer at EMI at the age of 15. To familiarize himself with his work, he was placed under the supervision of another assistant engineer, Richard Langham. On his second day of work at EMI, Richard Langham was assigned to be the assistant engineer of Norman Smith, who would be doing the first recording session of the Beatles in the evening. As a new recruit, Emerick was not entitled to get over-time pay, but was lucky enough to witness the first-ever EMI recording session by the finalised line-up of the Beatles in 1962, during which the group recorded for the first time with new drummer Ringo Starr on what would eventually become their first hit single “Love Me Do“. As assistant engineer, Emerick worked on numerous early recordings by the Beatles, and also helped record other artists for the label, including Judy Garland. He assisted at the EMI artist test of the Hollies.

After working his way up to the position, Emerick engineered the 1966 number one UK Manfred Mann hit Pretty Flamingo. Emerick took over the Beatles engineering duties from Smith that same spring at the request of producer George Martin when Smith became a producer. The first album Emerick worked on with the Beatles as their main recording engineer under Martin was Revolver, and “Tomorrow Never Knows” was the first track he worked on. It was Emerick’s innovation to record John Lennon‘s vocal through a Leslie speaker on that song, to get the ethereal sound Lennon wanted. In 1967, Emerick engineered “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!“, one of the most musically complex songs on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Lennon told Martin he wanted to re-create the “carnival atmosphere” of the Pablo Fanque circus poster that inspired the song. For the middle eight bars, Emerick spliced together multiple recordings of fairground organs and calliope in an attempt to create the effect; after a great deal of unsuccessful experimentation, Martin instructed Emerick to chop the tape into pieces with scissors, throw them up in the air, and re-assemble them at random. 

Emerick abandoned work on The Beatles on 16 July 1968, fed up with the tensions and arguments that hampered the sessions. He returned to work with the Beatles on Abbey Road.

Emerick received Grammy Awards for the engineering of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.

Despite his departure from the “White Album” sessions, Emerick remained on good terms with the Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney, who invited Emerick to quit EMI and come and work for their company, Apple Corps Ltd., in 1969. In addition to engineering duties, Emerick would oversee the building of the Apple recording studio.