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How Jimi Hendrix (May Have) Influenced The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”

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Editor’s Note: We’ve gotten LOTS of feedback about this video — and Scott’s conjecture about Jimi’s possible influence on Sgt Pepper — so Scott just posted a follow up where he responds to the most frequent questions and comments.  Anyway, here’s the original article. We hope you enjoy it. If you comment, please remember to be kind. After all, we ALL love this music.

In late 1966, as The Beatles began the sessions that would produce Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the band recorded the memorable track that would close the album — “A Day In The Life.” It features John Lennon’s haunted vocal, Ringo Starr’s dramatic drum fills, and the emotional orchestral build-up that author Jonathan Gould describes as “the sound of the high-wire artist as the ground rushes up from below.” It is certainly one of The Beatles’ finest recordings.

“A Day In The Life” began as a Lennon song. It contained verses inspired by the death of a friend, Tara Browne, as well as an article describing the number of holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. But John never managed to write a chorus or bridge for the song. Instead, he turned to his songwriting partner, Paul McCartney.

Paul had a song that he had begun about waking up and beginning the day. John thought it would make a good bridge for “A Day In The Life.” Paul also suggested the vocal trills that end Lennon’s sections of the song — “I’d love to turn you on.”

The pieces of the song were in place. What was missing was the connective tissue. In this video, I’ll show you why I think Jimi Hendrix had a big influence on how Paul joined his section of “A Day In The Life” to John’s.

You can see more in our latest  film, “Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper.” It opens February 6 in theatres around the county. Check here to see where it’s playing near you. We add locations frequently, so check back often to see the latest play dates. If we’re not appearing near you, ask your local cinema to contact us to book the film.

Scott Freiman

PS. You may also enjoy Scott’s video in our post The Surprising Chord That Made “Penny Lane” a Masterpiece. Plus, ever wondered how Sgt. Pepper got its cover? Read more about it here.


9 thoughts on “How Jimi Hendrix (May Have) Influenced The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life””

  1. Tom Grose says:

    “A Day In The Life” was recorded in January and February of 1967. “Are You Experienced” was released in May of 1967.

    How does this work, again?

    1. The CS Team says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom. “Hey Joe” was released as a single in 1966, before the album, and entered the UK charts during the time Sgt Pepper was being recorded. Plus, the Beatles and Hendrix were friends and mutual admirers. This is all playful conjecture, but it does seem plausible that — given the timing and Hendrix’s searing version of Hey Joe — it might have played a role, even sub-consciously, in the composition of that “Day in the Life” transitional passage.

  2. Mark says:

    HA! THAT PROGRESSION IS “HUSH” BY DEEP PURPLE TOO!

    1. Ellis Baumel says:

      I noticed that myself, because the “na na na na” section of that song seems a much closer match to what’s going on in Day in the Life”. I looked up the history. Hush was written by Joe South and first recorded by Billy Joe Royal in 1967 (not sure of the month). And South derived the song from a spiritual that declared “Hush, I thought I heard Jesus calling my name”. So 1967 was an incredible year for cross-pollination of genres and styles. I loved the ’60s and early ’70s for all that mixing and matching. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it since.

  3. Michael says:

    That’s all very good, and your conjecture maybe true. However, why do you say a man “called” Jimi Hendrix? When in fact he was a man “whose name was” Jmmy Hendrix.

  4. Sam says:

    The initial change sounds to me kind like the transition/intro to the guitar solo in Hey Jude. In my nonmusician opinion. Also kinda like part of Crystal Ship by the Doors.

  5. Steve says:

    I’m sure that in terms of music theory you’re correct, but I beg to differ regarding the influence of Hey Joe. I grew up listening to this song and I and all of my peers agreed it was a nod to Deep Purple’s first his song, Hush. “Na nana na, nana na, nana naaaaaa”. And furthermore, that this was yet another of many thinly veiled “clues” intentionally deposited in Beatles songs to further the fun rumor they were going along with that Beatle Paul was “dead”.

  6. Jay Emm says:

    I always thought that the bridge sounded like it was lifted from The Andrew Sisters version of Alexander’s Ragtime Band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPTbgvzgMZU

  7. Jim says:

    I’d suspect something entirely different, aside from the fact that it sounds and grooves nothing like The Leaves’ or Hendrix’ Hey Joe. Take piano out if it and clue into the bass line. It’s a warped boogie pattern that shifts keys. I’d bet he sat down with his bass and patterned his way through it.

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