How Yoko Ono Freaked Everyone Out During the ‘Abbey Road’ Sessions
As the years passed, you didn’t hear any Beatles blaming Yoko Ono for splitting up the band. After all, they were there and knew firsthand that George Harrison could hardly stand Paul McCartney by 1969. Meanwhile, Paul had his own widely discussed issues with John Lennon.
That’s not counting the fistfight George and John had while the band was being filmed for Let It Be. And we won’t get into the time Ringo walked out on the group during the White Album sessions. Or the time a few months later when George quit the band for a while.
Indeed, the period from early ’68 through late ’69 had “Beatles breakup” written all over it. As it turned out, that happened to be the same time the love between John and Yoko blossomed and the two got married.
But before The Beatles went their separate ways, they had one more masterpiece to record: Abbey Road. Just as the sessions were getting underway, John and Yoko made an entrance that freaked everyone out. Decades later, the chief engineer called it the craziest thing he’d seen.
Yoko’s bed delivery sent jaws dropping across the studio.
By the final Beatles studio album, the group’s producer and recording engineers had nearly seen it all. On top of the George-John scuffle, they’d watched John stagger into the studio one day and, declaring himself “more stoned than anyone would ever be,” nearly start a brawl with Paul.
Yet that didn’t match what chief engineer Geoff Emerick witnessed in July of ’69. That was when John and Yoko were set to return from their car accident so John could begin working on Abbey Road (at the Apple studio located on the eponymous street).
After they appeared in the studio, Emerick was surprised by a delivery immediately following them into the room. He initially guessed it was a piano, but he was wrong — John had a bed from Harrod’s delivered so Yoko could convalesce on the main studio floor.
In Here, There and Everywhere, Emerick described the “jaws dropping” and how “gobsmacked” Paul, George, and Ringo had been. “I’d spent nearly seven years of my life in recording studios and I thought I’d seen it all,” Emerick wrote. “But this took the cake.”
After tucking herself in, Yoko had a microphone placed above her.
Once the bed was in place and the delivery men made it up with sheets, pillows, and blankets, Yoko got in and made herself comfortable. Everyone who worked in the studio remained dumbfounded, but they didn’t have time to react — John next asked for a microphone to be placed at the bed.
As The Beatles worked their way through the album, Yoko would speak to everyone via the mic at her bed. Since she was recovering from injuries, she only wore nightgowns and had a large tiara on her head that covered scars from the wreck.
Needless to say, everyone present considered it a bizarre situation. When Yoko began receiving visitors at her bed, the situation grew more tense. Emerick described an irritated Paul; producer George Martin “depressed and frustrated”; and everyone else walking on eggshells.
In the following weeks, Yoko stirred up some trouble when she ate George Harrison’s biscuits and generally caused a distraction with her steady stream of visitors. But that first day with the bed delivery was something no one could forget.