- Ringo Starr – vocal, drums
- Paul McCartney – backing vocal, shouting, bass
- John Lennon – backing vocal, shouting, acoustic guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocal, tambourine
- Mal Evans – backing vocal, bass drum
- George Martin – backing vocal, producer
- Geoff Emerick – backing vocal, engineer
- Neil Aspinall – backing vocal
- Alf Bicknell – sound effects (rattling chains)
- Pattie Boyd – backing vocal
- Marianne Faithfull – backing vocal
- Brian Jones – backing vocal, sound effects (clinking glasses)
Yellow Submarine is mainly a Paul McCartney composition designed for Ringo to sing. It first appeared as a double a-side single with Eleanor Rigby, the Beatles' 13th. It was also Ringo's first lead vocal on a Beatles single record. A day later, on August 9, Yellow Submarine came out on Revolver. In the UK it stayed at number 1 for four weeks, and charted in the US, though it failed to reach number 1. The Supremes' You Can't Hurry Love held the top spot, and some feel that the "more popular than than Jesus" contretemps kept Yellow Submarine from displacing the Motown classic. Nevertheless, the single went to gold in the US in just four weeks, representing the group's 21st gold record. This put them past the previous record, held by Elvis.
In 1968 the song became the title tune in the fourth Beatles film (as most people count them), Yellow Submarine (United Artists), and was also released on the film's soundtrack album.
Paul said he was trying to write a children's song, something he liked doing with Ringo in mind, due to the latter's rapport and popularity with kids. The vocals do not require a wide range. Donovan (of Mellow Yellow fame) and Lennon both contributed to the lyrics, which became more and more abstract as the song progressed. The idea was to write about a happy place. Both Paul and John said there were no hidden meanings or codes in the words. Fans have been divided about the song, some saying that it was just a silly distraction from the rest of the Revolver tracks. Others have praised its light-hearted, whimsical mood and execution, something fans of psychedelic rock readily came to appreciate.
Recording took place on May 26, 1966. Five takes of the base track were made. Multiple sound effects were added on June 1. These included a ship's bell, bubbles, chains, wind and storm, whistles, hoots, and a cash register (which also was used in Money by Pink Floyd). Marching feet were added by shaking coal chunks from side to side in a cardboard carton. At the end of the session, in a light moment, Mal Evans hoisted the big bass drum and started a conga line, with everyone dancing through the studio.
Yellow Submarine also appears in the compilation The Beatles 1 as well as on Yellow Submarine and Yellow Submarine Songtrack.