By Sachin Ravikumar
October 27, 2023 – 10:11 AM UTC
LONDON (Reuters) – Fans of the Beatles might just twist and shout in joy.
A new Beatles song will be released next week, featuring the voice of late member John Lennon and developed using artificial intelligence, record company Universal Music Group (UMG.AS) said on Thursday.
Called “Now and Then,” the song – billed as the last Beatles song – also features parts recorded by surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as the late George Harrison.
“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in a statement. “It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording.
“In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.”
“Now and Then” dates back to the late 1970s when Lennon recorded a home demo in New York City, where he was murdered in 1980. The Beatles broke up in 1970. Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
Years after his death, Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono handed a set of recordings including “Now and Then” to the other Beatles, who added their own parts to it. But technological limitations meant Lennon’s vocals and piano could not be separated to produce the clear mix required to finish the song.
The idea to revive the tune followed Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back,” which had managed to isolate instruments and vocals using AI.
The same technology was applied to “Now and Then,” which was then completed by McCartney and Starr, Universal said. It will release worldwide at 1400 GMT on Nov. 2.
“It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us,” Starr said, referring to Lennon. “It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”
Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in LondonEditing by Matthew Lewis