10. McCartney almost came to blows with the French-horn player on “For No One.”
A sad aspect of coming within the Beatles’ orbit was that sometimes the one appearance you might have made on an album of theirs could overshadow everything else you did. Beatles fans know the name of Alan Civil for the French horn solo on McCartney’s exquisite “For No One,” but there was far more to this musical artist.
Civil was sufficiently valued in classical circles that he would eventually be appointed an OBE. He’d turn up later for the orchestral crescendos on “A Day in the Life,” but Civil was a master of Mozart works in particular. He was also someone who nearly lost it with Paul McCartney.
“Paul didn’t realize how brilliantly Alan Civil was doing,” George Martin said. “We got the definitive performance, and Paul said, ‘Well, OK, I think you can do it better than that, can’t you Alan?’ Alan nearly exploded. Of course, he didn’t do it better than that, and the way we’d already heard it was the way you hear it now.”
Speaking in Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Civil is diplomatic, and unfazed. “For me it was just another day’s work, the third session that day in fact, but it was very interesting.” Bet it was.