Where is the "Strawberry Fields" Mellotron today?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by audiodrome, Jan 27, 2013.

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  1. audiodrome

    audiodrome Senior Member Thread Starter

    North Of Boston
    I've always wondered what happened to the "Strawberry Fields" Mellotron. The book Recording The Beatles describes this particular Mellotron Mk. II as being hired or rented from the Mellotron company office. It did not belong to EMI or any of the Beatles (I imagine it was probably inconvenient for any of them to bring thier personal Mellotron to the studio). As far as I know this "hired" Mellotron was featured on only two Beatles tracks: the aforementioned Strawberry Fields Forever and the MMT instrumental, Flying. The Beatles Gear book does a great job detailing the provenance of many of the instruments the Beatles used but there is no mention of this Mellotron after EMI acquired their own (two FX Console models) in 1968. Does anyone know the rest of the story?
  2. Gloi

    Gloi Forum Resident

    I think Paul has it.
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  3. JohnnyH

    JohnnyH Senior Member

    There was a story that Mike Oldfield had bought it at auction and all the loops the Beatles used were still on it...
  4. slane

    slane Forum Resident

    They also used it on 'Bungalow Bill'. The opening guitar bit is actually a preset piece on the Mellotron (as is, IIRC, the 'jazz' ending on the bootleg version of 'Flying').
  5. detroit muscle

    detroit muscle Senior Member

    I'm sure I've seen an interview with Paul at his (well, one of his) houses and he has it, along with Bill Black's stand up bass that he played with Elvis.
  6. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    McCartney owns it. It appeared in the World Tonight TV special
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  7. audiotom

    audiotom Ground control to Major Tom

    New Orleans La USA
    I recall paul plays it on the Beatles Anthology

    In a narrow room with the light shining in

    One of the King Crimson mellotrons sold at auction for somewhere around $16k
  8. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    Arizona desert
    Bill Black's bass....now I'm impressed!
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  9. rstamberg

    rstamberg Senior Member

    Riverside, CT
    Paul owns it. He's played it on the OOBU JOOBU radio series. It's at his Hog Hill Mill studio.
  10. Terry

    Terry Senior Member

    Hmm. Pretty sure it was at the r&r museum the year it opened. Believe this is the same one used on 20000 light years from home.
  11. slane

    slane Forum Resident

    That's ten times further away from home than I'm used to ;)

    Brian Jones' work on 'We Love You' is my favourite use of the instrument. Apparently you have to pre-empt what you're playing to take into account of the slight delay in the notes actually sounding.

    Plus SFF, of course.
    Jack likes this.
  12. No, that's a Mark V. Those weren't invented until 1975, at least 8 years after Strawberry Fields Forever was recorded. The Mk II in this youtube movie could be the real thing:

  13. David P. Hill

    David P. Hill Forum Resident

    Irving, Tx
    Can someone post some pictures of Paul's Mellotron Mark II in his Hog Hill Mill studio?

    But how did the mellotron find its way into rock music? The answer, as usual, involves The Beatles. While The Beatles were not the first band to use a mellotron in a pop record (that honor would go to the Graham Bond Organisation with their 1965 single “Baby Can It Be True,”) they were by far the most prolific. And in those days when The Beatles put their stamp of approval on a sound or an instrument the rest of the rock world followed suit. John Lennon is said to have purchased a mellotron in August of 1965 (possibly on the advice of The Moody Blues’ Mike Pinder). While The Beatles did not record with a mellotron until the following year, the idea of tape loops creating electronic music took hold and The Beatles began recording their own tape loops at home. This manifested itself in the groundbreaking track “Tomorrow Never Knows” on the Revolver album (1966). A masterpiece in psychedelic music, the song contains 5 repeating tape loops that which run behind the main track (these were faded in and out of the mix by The Beatles in one take making the tape loops a kind of “live” performance). Two of those tape loops were recordings from John’s mellotron. While use of the mellotron on Revolver was not immediately apparent to listeners and the music world in general, The Beatles next single, recorded in November-December of 1966 would put the mellotron on the map in rock music.

    The early demos of “Strawberry Fields Forever” feature just John and his guitar. But as was common for John in 1966-1967 he was looking for a different sound. In those days John was constantly imploring George Martin to make his voice sound different or to create some unique sound that had never been done before on a rock record. He needed look no further than his Mellotron MK II. While the first take of the song (a different approach to the song, but nearly perfect in its own right) featured a different mellotron setting, the flute setting used on take 2 and subsequent takes is perhaps the most famous mellotron sound of all time. The following studio outtakes from the November 1966 recording sessions capture this sound perfectly (and in a more audible fashion than was made available on the finished single).

    The Beatles continued using it on the Magical Mystery Tour album and The Beatles (the “White Album”) as the mellotron’s reputation in “psychedelic” rock was solidified. That would soon change.

  14. In this youtube video Paul demonstrates the SFF intro on a Mk V like in Anthology, but he also demonstrates the left hand keyboard of a Mk II. If that Mk II was really the SFF mellotron why would he demonstrate the intro on a completely different mellotron?

  15. audiodrome

    audiodrome Senior Member Thread Starter

    North Of Boston
    I think everyone is confusing the hired "Strawberry Fields" Mk. II Mellotron with the FX Console model that EMI bought in early 1968. Paul owns the later EMI Mellotron, not the "Strawberry Fields" Mellotron. The Mark II model that EMI hired during the '66-'67 period was a standard wood-grain model while the FX Console was covered in a gray laminate (as seen in the pictures with Paul). The EMI Mellotron was used on "Bungalow Bill" and a few other White Album tracks.

    I tried searching online but there seems to be no information regarding the history or current status of the hired Mellotron. It could be the one at the R&R HOF Museum but if so, don't you think there would be a mention of it somewhere online?

    For comparison the FX model is on the left and the standard Mark II model is on the right:

  16. audiodrome

    audiodrome Senior Member Thread Starter

    North Of Boston
    I just checked and the one on display at the R&R Museum is John's personal "home" Mellotron. I guess I'll just have to keep digging...
  17. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident

    Oregon USA
    It's threads like this that keep me coming back every day.


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  18. The woodwinds that end "Bungalow Bill" are also mellotron. "Revolution 9" has the only other confirmed mellotron, although there are rumours that some sound effects (including the plane which opens "Back In The USSR") are also mellotron. Since Let It Be, Abbey Road and the 1969-70 singles don't feature anything, that really should be it.
  19. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Long Island, NY

    The plane is actually Paul whistling into a microphone. Shockingly realistic!
  20. SoundAdvice

    SoundAdvice Senior Member

    Isn't there one in display at the Beatles museum thing in Liverpool.

    I think owned by by Brian poole & Tremeloes(???) with a vague discription of being "used" in the studio by the Fabs.
  21. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Senior Member

    New York, NY
    I was listening to "Hey Jude" the other day, and I was amazed to hear a mellotron at about 2:12 and again at about 2:28.
  22. fifth beatle99

    fifth beatle99 Well-Known Member

    Eugene Oregon
    I can't remember whether it's the anthology or the McCartney Chaos and Creation at Abbey road, but McCartney says here is the Mellotron
    we used, and he play the Strawberry fields intro and sings the first line, later I will look for that bit of footage if it isin't posted already, he actually
    plays the Strawberry fields mellotron, and sings "let me take you down" He bought the instrument from Abbey Road, and apparently has purchased
    several instruments they were getting rid of. I think perhaps one of the keyboards on Real Love, a spinnett or Harpsichord or something came from
    Abbey Road didin't it ? After a while it gets hard to remember this stuff, the mind grows weaker and the memory is almost full
  23. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    No, it isn't. Try again.
  24. Luke The Drifter

    Luke The Drifter Forum Resident

    United States
    I have an interview where Paul makes that claim. But I think he has to be misremembering. It sounds like a stock airplane affect to me on U.S.S.R.
  25. JimC

    JimC Senior Member

    Anyone know which loops on "Tomorrow Never Knows" from the John's mellotron? An above post said from his mellotron, but played by him?
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