Skip to main content

Fans never imagined they’d get new music from The Beatles. John Lennon’s death in 1980 had erased everyone’s hopes that one day the biggest band in the world would get back together, even for something small. However, in 1995, there was a way of getting The Beatles back together. By taking some of John’s old unfinished recordings, the remaining members of The Beatles could release songs one last time.

While recording “Free as a Bird” and later, “Real Love,” The Beatles had John in the studio, even if he wasn’t there in person. He was with his band in spirit, and they felt it.

The Beatles dressed in dark suits in Sweden, 1963.
The Beatles | Keystone/Getty Images

Strange things happened when The Beatles recorded ‘Free as a Bird’

According to, The Beatles felt John’s presence in the studio while recording “Free as a Bird.”

“There were a lot of strange goings-on in the studio – noises that shouldn’t have been there and equipment doing all manner of weird things,” Paul said. “There was just an overall feeling that John was around.” When they recorded “Real Love,” Paul says John also tried to make his presence known by contributing to the recording.

“We put one of those spoof backwards recordings on the end of the single for a laugh, to give all those Beatles nuts something to do,” Paul said. “I think it was the line of a George Formby song. Then we were listening to the finished single in the studio one night, and it gets to the end, and it goes, ‘zzzwrk nggggwaaahhh jooohn lennnnnon qwwwrk.’ I swear to God. We were like, ‘It’s John. He likes it!'”

The strange occurrences didn’t stop there.

The Beatles think John Lennon photobombed them

After recording “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” The Beatles (or The Threetles) went outside the studio to take a photo. At the last minute, a rare white peacock entered the snapshot off to the side.

Paul suddenly felt that the white peacock was John’s spirit, making itself known once again. John wasn’t going to miss out on the photoshoot after all. Paul said, “That’s John. Spooky, eh? It was like John was hanging around. We felt that all through the recording.”

What’s strange is that John told his son Julian that if there was a way for him to tell Julian that he was alright or that everyone was going to be OK after he was gone, he’d send Julian a white feather. The rare peacock was white. Strange coincidence?

The band imagined John was just out of the studio when they recorded the new songs

Recording “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” allowed the remaining Beatles to imagine a world where John hadn’t died. Hearing him in their headphones while they recorded felt like he was there in the studio with them. It was as if John had laid down his parts, went home for the day, leaving the band to continue.

According to The HollyHobs, Paul said, “I invented a little scenario. He’s gone away on holiday, and he’s just wrung us up and says, ‘Just finish the track for us, will you? I’m sending the cassette, I trust you.’ That was the key thing, ‘I trust you, just do your stuff on it.’ I told this to the other guys, and Ringo was particularly pleased and said, ‘Ah, that’s great.’ It was very nice, and it was very reverent toward John.”


George Harrison Prevented Wes Anderson From Using This Beatles Song in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’

The most exciting thing for The Beatles was getting to feel like John was recording with them again. “It was very special,” Paul said in a video about the making of “Free as a Bird.” He continued to say it was a big moment. We can imagine they all had goosebumps many times in that brief reunion. We get goosebumps just listening to it.