The Beatles’ Lovely Rita: Paul McCartney’s Isolated Bass

“Lovely Rita”, the Paul McCartney-penned tune from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album featured a terrific, bouncy bass line.

The story goes that the tune was on a 4-track recorder with Harrison’s and Lennon’s guitars on tracks 1 and 2, Starr’s drums on track 3 and McCartney’s piano on track 4. Once those tracks were “bounced”, the McCartney’s lead vocal and bass were added, along with the three-part backing vocals. George Martin’s piano work was added in later.

Rumor has it that the members of Pink Floyd witnessed the recording of this tune.

Here’s McCartney’s bass line in all its glory.

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Leave a Reply to Phil Cancel reply

  1. Brilliant! You can hear the song in the bassline…

  2. Superb – the bass as a stand-alone melody – McCartney is a master of it. The baton, in my opinion, was handed down to Colin Moulding from XTC, whose basslines are equally arresting. Such a shame he doesn’t seem to be involved in music anymore.

  3. Just another example of a brilliant bass line and how much bass players have been overlookes through the years. I know that the instrument is usually labelled simply as BASS…BUT IT’S JUST NOT THAT SIMPLE NOW..IS IT!

  4. McCARTNEY WAS ONE OF MY FIRST INFLUENCES WHEN I STARTED TO PLAY, AND AM I GLAD THAT I TOOK THE TIME TO LISTEN TO HIM AND OTHERS LIKE HIM….MY PLAYING STYLE WOULD NOT BE WHAT IT IS IF NOT FOR ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE. I DON’T PLAY EXACTLY LIKE ANY OF THOSE GUYS, BUT ALL THE THINGS I LEANED FROM PAUL AND THOSE LIKE HIM , HELPED TO SHAPE THE WAY I PLAY TODAY….THAT IS THE THING THAT I CAN SAY THANK YOU FOR TO PAUL AND ALL THE REST LIKE HIM….BUSY DOES NOT HAVE TO BE OUT FRONT, AND….YES….SOMETIMES, LESS IS MORE, BUT I AM HAPPY TO SAY THAT BECAUSE OF THIS TYPE OF PLAYING…I GOT TO KNOW MY INSTRUMENT EXTREMELY WELL AND CAN SAY I AM PROUD….PEACE TO ALL….AND TO ALL THOSE OTHER BASSISTS OUT THERE….DON’T EVER LET ANYONE SAY THAT YOU’RE JUST THE BASS PLAYER.

  5. I Love it! Paul did influence me greatly as a Bassists and singer. He was the first Bassists I ever saw sing like an angel. Now don’t get me wrong here and of course I look at this in context of the state of recording and instruments in the ’60’s. He could have tuned his Hofner a bit more precisely.

  6. Lovely indeed. I wonder if he used his Hofner, Rickenbacker or that Fender Jazz V I’ve seen is some studio photos of him during this period. Paul McCartney has been such a huge inspiration for me as a bassist. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Opps, I believe it was a 4 string Jazz in those pictures. Whatever bass he was playing it was pretty amazing!

  8. Don’t ever quit posting these isolated bass videos. I’m definitely loving these more and more!

  9. jameson influence taken further-what a brilliant bassline by the most underated player ever-not a bad singer/songwriter, either…i love this man , madly-blessings and thanks for this genius post respect always, steve.

  10. Would like a good Chris White (Zombies) iso’d bassline.

  11. Really brilliant…funny how some of it sound slightly out if tune.

  12. If anyone is interested in following along or learning Sir Paul bass line, check out this note-for-note bass tab/transcription http://www.playbasslines.com/2013/02/the-beatles-lovely-rita-bass.html

  13. Speaks for itself …most melodic , original bassist up to that time , to say the least

  14. McCartney is my favourite bass player of all time, this is a classic example

  15. And when you think he might have hit a bum note….. You’re wrong.

  16. Matthew Di Panni hear this?

  17. Playing a Rick.

  18. Dubstock

    This song IS the reason I play bass

    • Tom S.

      When I heard the Bass line for “Dear Prudence”, that was it for me. I wanted to play Bass,… With a Rickenbacker or a Violin Bass..

  19. Ade

    This bassline is so brilliant. McCartney is my first bass hero, and for good reason.

  20. Sgt. Pepper wasn’t done on a four track as the story states. It was done on two 2 tracks running in sync.

  21. Hannelore Prollius

    I love Paul and I always tried to hear his bass playing, but I never could.
    Thanks for the experience, but I must say that I am quite disappointed.
    I am very melody- orientated and I just can’t imagine how this fits to the melody and how in live -!performances Paul could manage to sing the melody and do his bass line at the same time.
    The bass seems to have nothing to do with the melody and sounds pretty boring to me.

    I guess I will have to listen to it over and over again, then maybe I will be able to open up my ears for its glory, but my first impression is nothing near to that!
    SORRY, Paul! :)))

    • Phil

      By this time the Beatles were not playing live so Paul would never have had to play it and sing it simultaneously back then. He has added the song to his live shows in the last few years, but plays 12 or 6 string acoustic on it and sings. Someone else plays the bass. After listening to him perform songs such as “Silly Love Songs” and “Goodnight Tonight” playing bass and singing I’d have to think he would be more than capable. :)

    • Keith McTaggart

      Interesting perspective. Being a melody man, I’m surprised that you can’t hear the melody in this bass line, the contents of which could largely be sung on their own in my opinion. Secondly, whether or not it is his best written bass line, I would argue that it is entirely perfect for the song. The way the walking 8th note pulse moves along, provides a marvelous energy, the notes weaving through the chords and melody beautifully. I especially have always loved the bass line tag in the outro. Weird and wonderful. Funky and very singable. Sometimes isolation takes things out of context. That could be what’s happening here for you.

  22. steevo

    Macca definitely in my top 5 of all time bassists. At a recent live studio show on the BBC I was impressed to see him singing/bass playing Mr. Kite. I’m sure he could perform this live with his bass if the notion took him.

  23. That growl of a Rickenbacker, this song and “hey Bulldog” are good examples why Macca used his Ricky as his main studio bass. It has better intonation than his Hofner which enabled him to play those high up the neck riffs.

  24. mojobass

    SIR PAUL … Say no more ! Others can try to emulate, but there is only one Paul McCartney.

  25. Ned

    Monumental bass line. The Beatles played the song in the key of E and when they mixed it using a tape machine running at 48.7 hertz instead of 50 hertz it lowered the pitch of Lovely Rita almost a quarter step.