George Harrison Said 1 Person’s Work With The Beatles Was the ‘Biggest Disaster of All Time’: ‘Didn’t Have a Clue What He Was Doing’

The Beatles hired someone to build them a new studio. According to George Harrison, the entire project was a disaster for the band.

In the late 1960s, George Martin, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, among others, began voicing their concerns about someone working with The Beatles. “Magic” Alex Mardas was one of Apple Corps’ earliest employees and a friend of John Lennon. He promised them unique electronic decorations and improved recording equipment. The band enlisted him to build them a shiny new studio, a project Harrison later described as a complete disaster.

George Harrison said Magic Alex Mardas was a disaster in the studio for The Beatles

As an Apple employee, Mardas grew familiar with The Beatles’ recording equipment and told them it was terribly out of date. Per the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, Mardas began telling them he could design a seventy-two-track studio that would be more advanced than any existing studio.

This was nowhere near the truth. The studio Mardas presented The Beatles had no mixing desk for the eight-track tape recorder, no soundproofing, creaky floorboards, noisy neighbors, and, crucially, no connecting ports between the control room and the studio. This meant the microphone leads had no way of reaching the mixing desk.

“Alex’s recording studio at Apple was the biggest disaster of all time,” Harrison said. “He was walking around with a white coat on like some sort of chemist but didn’t have a clue what he was doing. It was a sixteen-track system and he had sixteen little tiny speakers all around the walls. You only need two speakers for stereo sound. It was awful. The whole thing was a disaster and had to be ripped out.”

John Lennon didn’t listen to George Harrison or anyone else who worked with The Beatles

Despite the concerns of his bandmates and producer George Martin, Lennon remained loyal to Mardas.

“It was absurd. If you’d had a few Revoxes you’d have done better,” artist John Dunbar said. “He’d charge them thousands and buy the stuff second-hand. But John just wouldn’t listen at that stage; I mean, it was Magic Alex, then Maharishi, then this, then that …”

Eventually, though, even Lennon realized that the promise of a state-of-the-art studio had fallen flat. They got rid of the studio without having used it.

George Martin said the presence of Alex Mardas caused a rift

One of Mardas’ most vocal critics was Martin. McCartney said most of Mardas’ suggestions had Martin “tearing [his] hair out.”

“I confess I tended to laugh myself silly when they came and announced the latest brainchild of Alex’s fertile imagination,” Martin said. “Their reaction was always the same, ‘You’ll laugh on the other side of your face when Alex comes up with it.’ But of course he never did … The trouble was that Alex was always coming to the studios to see what we were doing and to learn from it, while at the same time saying, ‘These people are so out of date.’”

Still, Martin didn’t want to kick Mardas out of the studio because he was friends with the band.

“I found it very difficult to chuck him out, because the boys liked him so much,” he said. “Since it was very obvious that I didn’t, a minor schism developed.”

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