- John Lennon - Spoken Vocals, Tape Loops, Sound Effects, Piano, Reversed Mellotron
- George Harrison - Spoken Vocals, Tape Loops, Sound Effects, Reversed Guitar
- Yoko Ono - Spoken Vocals, Tape Loops, Sound Effects
Revolution 9 is a collage of noise and other sounds. It was released together with Revolution 1 on The White Album. The track is essentially an avant-garde fantasy on musical elements from Revolution 1, which evolved out of a coda that was later cut out. You can still hear Lennon saying "all right" and screaming "right" several times on this track.
The Beatles' audience has been much divided over Revolution 9 ever since its release in November of 1968. It was Lennon operating under the influence of Yoko Ono and aesthetic notions from avant-garde musicians and artists. The style is called musique concrète, after a movement founded in the 1940's by French avant-garde theorist Pierre Schaeffer.
The concept is to combine sounds -- many of them ordinary or prosaic noises -- into some sort of acoustic texture that can appeal to or educate the ear. For those Beatles fans who intellectualized music far less than John Lennon did, his venture into musique concrète seemed a lot like the aimless banging out of distorted noise. Lennon himself described the creative process as taking the basic rhythm track from Revolution and then layering twenty or thirty tape loops over it, many from EMI's archives of classical music and sound effects. John found a tape where the engineer said "Number Nine" and used it. Lennon always felt an affinity for the number nine, and so the collage became Revolution 9.
McCartney had no role in Revolution 9, but he was charitable towards it, having tried his own collage a year and a half earlier (with the unpublished Carnival of Light). The other two band members, plus producer George Martin, tried to persuade Lennon that the piece should not be released to the public, at least not on The White Album. They were unsuccessful, obviously.
The difference of opinion about Revolution 9 and the role of Yoko Ono in encouraging John into a realm considered incompatible with popular music was a major contributing factor to the interpersonal frictions that ultimately caused the group to disband.
Famously, Revolution 9, together with Helter Skelter, were identified as stimuli to the deranged serial killer, Charles Manson, to commit the "Sharon Tate murders."
Revolution 9 started out in the studio as the last six minutes of a jam coda in take 18 for Revolution 1, made on May 30, 1968. Tape loops and new sounds were then layered over it. Yoko Ono assisted John Lennon in this part of the effort. On June 6, he found or made 12 tapes of special audio effects. He worked on more effects on June 10 and 11. On June 20, the whole thing was mixed and assembled, using all three of Abbey Road's studios and around ten tape machines.
Elements include random quotes from Lennon, George and Yoko, like "You become naked" and "El Dorado" and "Take this brother, may it serve you well." Other fragments included a George Martin clip with echo, asking Geoff to put the red light on; a choir with violins playing backwards; backwards operatic and symphonic clips; part of an overdub from A Day in the Life; a backwards Mellotron; the last chord of Sibelius' 7th; Yoko humming; and the famous "number nine" engineer's phrase. A tape rewind is discernible at just after 5 minutes.
By June 22 the track was completed and edited from over nine minutes down to eight minutes and twelve seconds. Then, on October 16-17, when The White Album was put into final shape, two more fragments were added to the front of Revolution 9 - 28 seconds of a McCartney tune, Can You Take Me Back, and an apology by Alistair Taylor (Apple Records' office manager) to George Martin concerning a bottle of claret.