A Day in the Life is one of the last true John Lennon–Paul McCartney collaborations: Lennon wrote the opening and closing sections, and McCartney contributed with the middle part.
The Beatles began recording A Day In The Life on 19 January 1967, with a working title “In the Life of …”. On this first day Mal Evans counted out the bars in the instrumental sections, and sounded an alarm clock.
They worked on the song the day after and on 3 February. 10 February was the day the orchestra recorded the climactic instrumental passages.
The Beatles hired 40 musicians, dressed them in tuxedos and funny hats, and told them they had 15 bars to ascend from the lowest note on their instruments to the highest.
The day’s recording was filmed and is presented in this video.
The musicians wore evening dress, along with fancy dress items including red noses, bald wigs and novelty glasses. Erich Guenberg, leader of the violins, wore a gorilla paw on his bow hand. Friends of The Beatles, including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Mike Nesmith and Donovan, were also present for what was intended as an event.
The song was finally completed on 22 February, when the final crashing piano chord was recorded.
According to John Lennon, the inspiration for the first two verses was the death of Tara Browne, the 21-year-old heir to the Guinness fortune who had crashed his Lotus Elan on 18 December 1966 in Redcliffe Gardens, Earls Court. Browne had been a friend of Lennon and McCartney.
The third verse contains the line “The English Army had just won the war”; John Lennon was making reference to his role in the movie How I Won the War.