Artificial intelligence has been used to create “the last Beatles record”, set to be released later this year, Sir Paul McCartney has revealed.
The Beatles star, 80, said his late bandmate John Lennon’s vocals from an old demo had been extricated and made “pure” thanks to the technology.
It came about during the making of the documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, which was released in 2021, directed by Lord Of The Rings filmmaker Peter Jackson.
Image: Pic: AP Sir Paul made the comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after being asked for his thoughts on artificial intelligence (AI).
“When Peter Jackson did the film Get Back, where it was us making the Let It Be album, he was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette and a piano,” he said. “He could separate them with AI. They tell the machine: ‘That’s a voice, this is a guitar – lose the guitar’.
“So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on and we just finished it up. It will be released this year.
“We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI so then we could mix the record as you would normally do. It gives you some sort of leeway.”
Sir Paul said in recent years he had been told about tracks featuring Lennon “singing one of my songs – and it isn’t, it’s just AI”.
There is a “good side” to the technology but also a “scary side”, he said, adding: “We will just have to see where that leads.”
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This is not the first time Sir Paul has embraced AI, having been given the de-aging treatment in the video for his track Find My Way in 2021.
In the Today interview, the singer-songwriter also spoke about his forthcoming photography exhibition, titled Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes Of The Storm, to mark the reopening of the National Portrait Gallery.
‘With The Beatles, you have this overwhelming stuff happening to you’
The exhibition incorporates previously unseen photographs he took on his Pentax camera during the early days of Beatlemania, including portraits of Sir Ringo Starr as well as late bandmates George Harrison and Lennon, and manager Brian Epstein.
“It is very poignant, it’s great because, whenever you lose someone, I think your natural thing is ‘Well, we’ve got beautiful memories’, and you hold fast those memories of the good times,” Sir Paul said.
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“I don’t tend to dwell on the fact that you’ve lost someone. After a while – it’ll maybe take a year or two – and then you can look back and you just remember where you met them, things you did…
“And when it came to The Beatles, and you have this overwhelming stuff happening to you, you knew each other so well that you could lean on each other – that’s what I see in these pictures.”
The exhibition will run from 28 June to 1 October.