Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury ‘duet’ with John Lennon was made possible by Peter Jackson and machine learning

Paul McCartney’s ‘virtual duet’ with former Beatles bandmate John Lennon was undoubtedly one of the highlights of his epochal Glastonbury headline set on Saturday night, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Get Back director Peter Jackson.

As we reported last year, creating the Disney+ docuseries required the Hobbit helmsman to create a new system that enabled him to ‘separate’ mono tracks so that they could be isolated and remixed, and it was this same tech that brought the two Beatles back together to perform I’ve Got A Feeling - released on 1970 album Let It Be and recorded during the iconic 1969 rooftop gig - at Worthy Farm.

“To me the sound restoration is the most exciting thing,” Jackson told Variety when discussing the production of Get Back in 2021. “We made some huge breakthroughs in audio.

“We developed a machine learning system that we taught what a guitar sounds like, what a bass sounds like, what a voice sounds like. In fact we taught the computer what John sounds like and what Paul sounds like.

“So we can take these mono tracks and split up all the instruments - we can just hear the vocals, the guitars. You see Ringo thumping the drums in the background but you don’t hear the drums at all. That allows us to remix it really cleanly.”

Lennon wasn’t McCartney’s only guest during his Glastonbury set - Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen also appeared - but his appearance was surely the most emotional moment of the night. Who said that music made with technology has no soul?

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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