It was on June 6, 1962 that The Beatles, with Pete Best as their drummer, first walked through the doors of Abbey Road Studios (then known as EMI Studios). It would be their first session at the place that would later become their recording home. After relentless work by The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and after being turned down by Dick Rowe over at Decca, the band finally got their big break.
To this day it’s not 100% clear if this was a proper recording session for a band that had just been signed, or an artist “test” (audition) to see if they would be able to competently perform in a recording studio. Memories have blurred over time, and everyone involved seemed to have a different version of how the session went down. Having said that, based on intense research by the likes of Mark Lewisohn, noted Beatles historian, and others, June 6 is regarded as the Beatles first “official” session at EMI. This would be the only Beatles session at Abbey Road to feature Pete Best, as he’d be sacked by the band just two months later and replaced by Ringo.
Back in March, 2007, almost a year to the day before he passed, Norman Smith graciously chatted with me for an interview on the phone from his English country home. To say I was beyond thrilled to speak with him would be an understatement: Norman was The Beatles first recording engineer from 1962-1965, through Rubber Soul! After leaving The Beatles’ circle, Norman went on to become a producer, taking the helm on the first two Pink Floyd albums, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets.
He was also there for that historic first session at Abbey Road, and very kindly shared his recollection of the events:
Norman Smith would later would go on to be a recording artist in his own right, scoring a worldwide hit in 1972 with the beautiful “Oh Babe, What Would You Say,” under his stage name, Hurricane Smith:
The Beatles’ first recording session on June 6, 1962 will always go down as one of the most historic days in Beatles history.