"Helter Skelter" is a McCartney composition written for the White Album in response to a remark by Pete Townsend who claimed that The Who had recently recorded a track that was the loudest, dirtiest rock and roll song ever done. McCartney's response was "Got to do it. And we decided to do the loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could. That was Helter Skelter."
The first version of the song was recorded at Abbey Road on July 18, 1968 and was an astounding twenty-four minutes long. Technical engineer Brian Gibson said, "The version on the album was out of control. They were completely out of their heads that night. But, as usual, a blind eye was turned to what the Beatles did in the studio. Everyone knew what substance they were taking, but they were really a law unto themselves in the studio."
The final album version was recorded at Abbey Road on September 9 and 10, 1968 using an eight-track machine EMI had recently purchased. At the end of the song, Ringo screams, "I got blisters on my fingers!"
A mono version of the song was used on the U.S. Rarities LP. McCartney's vocal is clearer, the drumming at the end is different, beeping and laughing noises are heard at the beginning, and there is no fadeout.
McCartney sings lead vocal, with Lennon and Harrison supplying backing vocals. McCartney and Lennon both play lead and rhythm guitar, Lennon plays saxophone, Harrison plays rhythm guitar, Mal Evans plays trumpet, and Ringo plays drums.
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Beatles Roadies: Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans
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