Paul McCartney Announces ‘Final Beatles Record’ with Artificial Intelligence Restoring John Lennon Vocals

The Beatles are coming back — thanks to a little help from artificial intelligence.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Best of Today published Tuesday, band member Paul McCartney revealed he employed the technology to create what he calls “the final Beatles record.”

“We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year,” said McCartney, 80.
The song will include vocals from the late John Lennon, who was shot and killed in December 1980 at the age of 40. AI was able to “extricate” Lennon’s voice from an old demo.

“It was a demo that John had that we worked on,” McCartney said. “We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we could mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway.”

A similar move, McCartney said, was employed by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson in the 2021 documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, which covered the making of the English band’s pivotal 1970 album Let It Be.

“We were able to use that kind of thing when Peter Jackson did,” McCartney said. “He could separate them with AI. He could tell the machine, ‘This is a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar.’ And he did that. So it has great uses.”

No further information was given about the release, though the BBC reported the song to be a 1978 track Lennon wrote called “Now and Then” — a tune he had recorded on a boombox shortly before his death. Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, had famously given the song to McCartney on a cassette labeled, “For Paul.”

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The band previously tried to record the song while putting together their Anthology series in 1995, but abandoned it because George Harrison, who died in 2001 at age 58, complained the sound quality was “rubbish.”

“It didn’t have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking, but it had a beautiful verse and it had John singing it,” McCartney told Q Magazine in 1997. “[But] George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”

Two other songs from that tape, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” did make the cut, with the Beatles releasing them in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

Over the years since then, McCartney has said he hopes to release “Now and Then.” As he said in a 2012 BBC Four documentary on producer Jeff Lynne, “That one’s still lingering around. So I’m going to nick in with Jeff and do it. Finish it, one of these days.”

While AI may have helped McCartney check a box off his bucket list, the legendary musician said on Best of Today that he has some trepidation about the technology.

“There’s a good side to it and a scary side,” he said. “It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment and trying to deal with. ‘What’s it mean?’ I don’t hear that much because I’m not on the internet that much, but people will say to me, ‘Oh, there’s a track where you know [John Lennon is] singing one of my songs.’ And it isn’t — it’s just AI.”

“All that is kinda scary, but exciting because it’s the future,” he added. “We’ll just have to see where that leads.”

And as for drummer Ringo Starr, he’s been supportive of technology advancements, telling the Today show in 2013 that he’d do anything to play with his bandmates again. “Oh, any day,” he said. “It was the best band.”

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