Emerick's the one in this picture who isn't Ringo.

Emerick’s the one in this picture who isn’t Ringo.

I’ve previously made reference to Geoff Emerick in several entries, but not given much background on who he was. So, in case you don’t already know, and are curious….

Geoff Emerick came to work for EMI Studios as an assistant assistant engineer in 1962, at the tender age of 15. He’d decided very early in life to pursue a career as a sound engineer. In his autobiography Here, There and Everywhere he talks about how in his school days he wrote letters to all the major recording studios; unsuccessful on that front, he got lucky when his school’s guidance counselor somewhat miraculously got him an interview at EMI. (He also talks about the time in his childhood when he saw a UFO, but that is a topic for another time.)

Thus although Emerick was only 18 in 1966, he had three years of experience when Beatles recording engineer Norman Smith decided he wanted to be a producer in his own right, rather than an engineer. This resulted in young Emerick being elevated to the position. He himself admits he is not sure exactly why he was chosen over many older engineers; it may be that The Beatles simply wanted a young person, someone who would be receptive to their increasingly left-field ideas.

His first assignment was recording “Tomorrow Never Knows,” for which he came up with innovative approaches to recording both the vocals and the drums. And the rest is history. Emerick was The Beatles’ engineer until he quit partway through the White Album, unnerved by all the infighting. He returned for Abbey Road and went on to work with artists from Elvis Costello and Cheap Trick to Big Country and Ultravox.

As of this writing he is still on the go, giving interviews and making appearances. We will no doubt be hearing from him when Sgt. Pepper turns 50 next year. But for now, as George Martin said at the end of the “TNK” session, “Let’s knock it on the head for the night.”

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