- John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, lead guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, piano, organ, backing vocals
- George Harrison – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Derek Watkins and Freddy Clayton – trumpets
- Don Lang, Rex Morris, J. Power, and Bill Povey – trombones
John Lennon wrote Revolution, which came out in two very different versions. One, called simply Revolution is a noisy, electric song, and Revolution 1 is slower and quieter. A third piece, called Revolution 9, was included on The White Album along with Revolution 1. It has been described as "experimental" by kind critics and by others as being unworthy of being called a song. An Internet version called Revolution 1, Take 20 has appeared, but its authenticity has not been established.
Revolution 1 was produced on May 30, 1968 through June 4, a month and a half before Revolution. It was released on The White Album, three months after the single of Hey Jude/Revolution. Apparently Lennon wanted the May recording to be the single, but Martin and the others in the band thought it was too slow for that. So Lennon re-worked the song into the up-tempo, loud version that ultimately was released with Hey Jude.
After Harrison's somewhat bitter Taxman came out in 1966, the Beatles went back to their usual apolitical posture for a while. Revolution was only the second time the Beatles ventured into political terrain with their music. This made Paul uncomfortable, as he felt the Beatles needed to stay above mundane controversies. Lennon had a much different view. He had put behind him the psychedelic rock of the "middle period" and had shelved India, the Maharishi, Transcendental Meditation, acid trips, and the need to withdraw into his own consciousness. He was divorcing his wife and was increasingly influenced by the politically-active Yoko Ono. The social turmoil of the period called to him for musical comment. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1980, Lennon said, "I wanted to talk, I wanted to say my piece about revolution. I wanted to tell you, or whoever listens, to communicate, to say 'What do you say? This is what I say.'"
Revolution 1, Take 20 appeared on the Internet in February of 2009. Before that, some bootlegs were in circulation of Take 20, but they were of low fidelity. This new bootleg was a high-quality mono version that runs almost 11 minutes and includes a long coda that did not make it onto the album. It discloses Lennon's attempts to resolve his original concept of Revolution before ultimately winding up with two separate versions plus an experimental collage. The Lennon vocal performance on this coda is notably more theatrical than the one in Revolution, and bits of it can be identified in Revolution 9.