Helter Skelter (Lennon/McCartney)
Helter Skelter was written by Paul after reading a Pete Townsend interview in which he identified I Can See For Miles as The Who’s loudest, rawest song. Paul then set to record Helter Skelter “to be the most raucous vocal, the loudest drums, et cetera.”
The Holy Grail
A slow, bluesy, 27-minute jam of Helter Skelter was recorded on July 18, 1968 and is sometimes referred to the “Holy Grail” of unreleased Beatles recordings. Another longer version, recorded on the same day, was edited for release on Anthology 3.
The Charles Manson connection
Along with Revolution 9 and Piggies, Helter Skelter is famous for its place in the “Tate killings” by the Charles Manson “family”, in which actress Sharon Tate, nine months pregnant, and nine others were brutally stabbed to death. The phrase “Helter Skelter” was the name given by Manson to an apocalyptic race war between white and black people which he believed was coming.
The mono version is missing the Ringo line “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” and following drum-out.
“That came about just ’cause I’d read a review of a record which said, ‘and this group really got us wild, there’s echo on everything, they’re screaming their heads off.’ And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, it’d be great to do one. Pity they’ve done it. Must be great — really screaming record.’ And then I heard their record and it was quite straight, and it was very sort of sophisticated. It wasn’t rough and screaming and tape echo at all. So I thought, ‘Oh well, we’ll do one like that, then.’ And I had this song called “Helter Skelter,” which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, ‘cuz I like noise.” – Paul, to Radio Luxembourg
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, lead and rhythm guitar
- John Lennon – backing vocal, six-string bass, sound effects (through saxophone mouthpiece)
- George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar, slide guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, vocals
- Mal Evans – trumpet
- Uncredited musician – piano
- The Beatles (1968)
- Rock N’ Roll Music (1976)
- Anthology 3 (1996) [take 2 edit]
- Tomorrow Never Knows (2012)
- The Beatles Anniversary Edition (2018) [2018 stereo mix]
- The Beatles Anniversary Edition (2018) [first version take 2]
- The Beatles Anniversary Edition (2018) [second version take 17]