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Fact-check of the day: Did Hugh play ‘Hey, Jude’?

Both the Telegraph and the Times, in belated obituaries of the influential London concertmaster Hugh Maguire, maintain that he used to say he played backing uncredited on the Beatles’ valedictory album.

It’s perfectly possible that he did. But there are session lists available and our Beatles’ experts know them by heart.

So can we have clarity here, please? Did Hugh play Hey Jude? And which other London musos were in on the gig?

hugh maguire2

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  1. Gary Carpenter says:

    There’ll be sessions lists available if the MU haven’t ‘mislaid’ them; which is what they usually do.

    • Gary,
      With respect to you. The lists that have been “mislaid” have been largely by orchestral contractors at the time of the recordings. The MU and PPL have made strenuous efforts in recent years to locate people who are owed money. I am not saying that the MU has behaved entirely properly with regard to members’ money but the recording of details of personnel on sessions is the responsibility of the contractor on the day.

  2. Philip Maguire says:
    • It brings up ‘error’

    • Philip Maguire says:

      Here is the photographic evidence you might be wanting to put this to bed although since my father was rather a modest man in that he was constantly looking towards his next concert & challenge he rarely spoke of his past achievements. Not that he saw this as one of them; far from it in fact.!i=2605705926&k=C9g3PKQ

      On other arguments brought up on this threads on ‘classical’ musician’s disdain of ‘pop’ musicians and simply comes down to the obvious fact that although Hey Jude sold more records than say Beethoven’s Op 127 does not make Hey Jude either a better piece of music or a more important one. Just a more popular one. I think most of us have found the public’s chioce, from general election’s to what’s at No.1 in the charts to be rather lacking & disappointing. The length of time it takes to master a musical instrument to the degree to play Op 137 or in my case Strauss’ 2nd horn concerto is so much more sweat & toil than to knock out a four or five chord pop song and it’s quite natural for the classically trained to feel disdain and also rather unappreciated when you figure in the earning divide between the two.

      • Philip Maguire says:

        On another side to this argument from the next generation my nephew posted this on his facebook page and it speaks volumes:

        “2moro is my Grandfather Hugh Maguires memorial service… What a man… Lets reflect on what he has achieved. Leader of London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, founded Irish Youth Orchestra, tutored the English, National Youth Orchestra, professor at Royal Academy of Music and the list goes on… And I hear people say Gary Barlow deserves a knighthood for his contribution to the music industry!!!!!!! Was thinking of attempting to down a pint of Guinness tomorrow for every one of my grandads achievements, in order. I would be in A&E before I made it past half way!! Love you Grandaddy RIP x

      • Thank you, Philip.

  3. According to Mark Lewisohn (The Beatles Recording Sessions, Harmony Books 1988, p146) the only known orchestra members playing on “Hey Jude” (recorded at Trident Studios, Wardour Street) are Bobby Kok (Cello) and Bill Jackman (flute).

    Despite being offered a second session fee one of the 36(?) musicians refused to provide backing vocals and handclapping for the chorus: “I’m not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney’s bloody song!”

  4. What a strange article!

    I would have thought that if Hugh said he played the session, then, indeed he did. Why even question his word?

    If someone does indeed come up with some list, and the eminent man is not there– I’m sure it’s not just a case of Irish blarney, rather that he played on hundreds of such tracks! (Come on dude, it was the 60s!)

    • Caroline Maguire says:

      I remember my Dad talking about the session over lunch! He had come back very late the night before as the band took ages to get it sounding the way they wanted.As a teenager I was, of course, tremendously impressed but my Dad was less so and had no time for them I’m afraid! He also spoke about it to me very recently – he still remembered it vividly – especially his feelings of annoyance!

      • Fantastic, Caroline – thanks so much for the validation. The Beatles experts will have to update their files.

        • Simon Maguire says:

          Norman: Ian Macdonald named the session musicians for most of the Beatles’ recordings in his book “Revolution in the Head”, but not for “Hey Jude”. I also remember my Dad talking about this recording as a musical experience, which would not really be for public consumption. I have a photo of him at Abbey Road with Lennon somewhere; I presume it is “Hey Jude”, as he is not credited in any of the other Beatles recordings as far as I know.

  5. robcat2075 says:

    It’s hard to imagine the ears that could play in such a session, get paid for it and come away with only disapproval.

    I’m sure the various Beatles have cried all the way to bank over the open disdain of their more-trained musician colleagues.

    • Halldor says:

      Casual disdain for anything even slightly outside of their own personal experience is a depressingly widespread trait amongst UK orchestral musicians. Remember, these are the professional descendants of the seasoned pros who laughed Schubert 9 offstage. Malcolm Arnold had a fairly choice term for players who took this attitude, if accounts of his LPO/ Deep Purple sessions are to be believed.

      • Istvan Horthy says:

        And why shouldn’t someone not be in awe of The Beatles and their music – for a change?
        I was twenty when they first got into the charts and, although quite enjoying a few of their songs, never bought a record of theirs and the occasional hearing now of one of their songs awakes no feelings of nostalgia. Only Françoise Hardy can do that.

  6. robcat2075 says:

    I’ll also suggest that that scornful, unhelpful attitude is a lot of the reason pop musicians and other composers bolted for electronic replacements for conventional instruments as soon as it became technologically feasible.

    • Not the Beatles: they liked live musicians, preferably from the London orchs

      • robcat2075 says:

        They may have liked live musicians but when the Mellotron, one of the earliest “sampling” keyboards, became available to them they liked that too and used it extensively instead of live players when they could.

        • But the Mellotron sounds nothing like a real group of human players. It’s a different sound, a different tool, so not necessarily used in place of people, just used to create the sound it creates.

      • Michael Smith says:

        Quite. I doubt whether an electronic substitute could have matched Alan Civil’s fine playing in ‘For No One’.

        • robcat2075 says:

          It’s not a question of whether an electronic instrument could replace the finest playing that humans are capable of.

          It’s a question of whether an electronic instrument could replace grumpy session musicians who were only being hired to do basic fills and pads and backgrounds anyway.

          Why would anyone hire 30 string players who don’t support your goal when one keyboard player can get a result that will sound pretty much the same once it gets to a 45rpm record played on AM radio?

  7. I think I once saw a photo of the Beatles visiting an orchestral recording session at Abbey Road Studios. Maybe Suvi Raj Grubb was in the photo, too.
    When I ran into Brown Meggs at the Tower Records Classical Annex on Sunset Boulevard (of blessed memory), I didn’t ask him about signing the Beatles; rather what transfer engineer Keith Hardwick was up to.

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