- Paul McCartney – lead vocals, lead guitar
- John Lennon – backing vocals, six-string bass, sound effects
- George Harrison – backing vocals, rhythm guitar, sound effects
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Mal Evans – trumpet
Helter Skelter was written by Paul McCartney as an experimental number. It was recorded in 1968 for The Beatles (also known as The White Album). The inspiration came from a published interview with Pete Townsend of The Who in Guitar Player magazine. He described the Who's latest release, I Can See for Miles, as the "loudest, rawest, dirtiest song" recorded by the group. Paul undertook to do the same for the Beatles. The piece is truly cacophonous and loud. It has the sort of roar later identified with heavy metal. And, most famously, it was taken by homicidal maniac Charles Manson as one of several prophecies in The White Album that would lead to racial warfare amongst whites over the treatment of blacks. The name not only invokes confusion and disorder, but also an English amusement park machine in which the riders spiral wildly up and down. The music of this song mimics that action.
Several recordings of Helter Skelter were made during the recording sessions for The White Album. One of them, on July 18, 1968 is over 27 minutes long. Another take from the same day is 4:37 (edited down from 12 minutes) and was published on Anthology 3. First hand accounts of the session report that the group was high-spirited, hysterical and totally mad. The take used for the album was made on September 9, the last of 18 takes of 5 minutes or so each. At the end of that take, Ringo threw his sticks and shouted that he had "blisters on my fingers" -- a sound byte left in the stereo mix. Allmusic's Richie Unterberger called this song an extraordinary track, one of the "fiercest and most brutal rockers done by anyone."