The Beatles wrote and recorded a staggering amount of songs throughout the recording process of their 12 albums, but one track stood out to George Harrison as the worst thing they had ever put together. The track was written for their penultimate album, Abbey Road, and was spearheaded by Paul McCartney, who had a lot of ideas on how to bring it to life in a unique way. But the rest of the band couldn’t agree with it.
McCartney brought Maxwell’s Silver Hammer to the recording studio for the album. He was convinced it was going to become one of the band’s biggest hits. The rest of the band, however, did not love the track. And what’s more, once McCartney started spending many hours trying to perfect his masterpiece, the rest of the Fab Four turned on him.
Harrison in particular was extremely frustrated by the song’s recording process. “Sometimes Paul would make us do these really fruity songs,” he recalled. “I mean, my God, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was so fruity.”
McCartney even brought an anvil into the recording studio to smack a large hammer against it to add to the final recording of the song. John Lennon later said he “hated” the recording process for the song.
Harrison went on to admit that the final recording of the song wasn’t hopeless, however. “After a while, we did a good job on it,” he said. The Quiet Beatle then trailed off: “But when Paul got an idea or an arrangement in his head…”
Lennon later added in 1980: “All I remember is the track – he made us do it a hundred million times. He did everything to make it into a single and it never was and it never could’ve been. But [Paul] put guitar licks on it and he had somebody hitting iron pieces.” He bitterly followed-up: “We spent more money on that song than any of them in the whole album.”
The usually quiet and unconfrontational Ringo Starr even spoke out against Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. He said: “The worst session ever was Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. It was the worst track we ever had to record.” He also went on to hit out at how long and laborious the recording session was. “It went on for f****ng weeks,” he said. “I thought it was mad.”
After all of this brutal feedback, McCartney eventually responded to the criticism. But he couldn’t help but defend his own work.
McCartney was adamant that recording the song wasn’t much of a problem. Instead, he said the rest of the band were annoyed because it took so long. He said: “They got annoyed because Maxwell’s Silver Hammer took three days to record. Big deal.”
Years later, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was used as an example of why The Beatles eventually split up. Beatles biographer Ian MacDonald wrote: “This ghastly miscalculation – of which there are countless equivalents on [McCartney’s] garrulous sequence of solo albums – represents by far his worst lapse of taste under the auspices of The Beatles.”
MacDonald added: “Thus Abbey Road embraces both extremes of McCartney: the clear-minded, sensitive caretaker of The Beatles in You Never Give Me Your Money and the Long Medley – and the immature egotist who frittered away the group’s patience and solidarity on sniggering nonsense like this.”
After the band released Abbey Road they dropped their 12th and final album, Let It Be. Before long, they split up for good.