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Paul McCartney says A.I. got John Lennon’s voice on ‘last Beatles record’

Paul McCartney performs on The Pyramid Stage during day four of Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 25, 2022 in Glastonbury, England. The Beatles star told the BBC he has finished a new song using AI to recreate John Lennon’s voice.

Harry Durrant | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

LONDON — Beatles singer-songwriter Paul McCartney told the BBC that artificial intelligence was used to “extricate” and clean up the vocals of former bandmate John Lennon from an old recording, allowing them to feature in an upcoming track.

“It’s a very interesting thing, you know. It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment and trying to deal with,” McCartney told the BBC’s “Today” program when asked about AI.

McCartney said “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson — who in 2021 released an eight-hour documentary called “The Beatles: Get Back” featuring colorized, cleaned-up archive footage of the band — was able to “extricate” Lennon’s voice “from a ropey little bit of cassette.”

AI was used to identify Lennon’s vocals as distinct from instrumentals and background interference.

“So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on, and we just finished it up. It will be released this year,” McCartney said.

“We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI, so that then we could mix the record as you would normally do. It gives you some sort of leeway.”

The BBC said it is expected to be a Lennon song from 1978 called “Now And Then,” which McCartney has in the past expressed a desire to “finish.” Lennon was murdered in 1980.

On his recent tour, which included a headline slot at Glastonbury festival, McCartney performed songs with a cleaned-up Lennon vocal track, as well as a video of the artist on stage with him.

Industry experts have been reflecting on the potential for the latest technological advances within the music industry, along with the ethics of posthumously recreating artists.

ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, whose show “ABBA Voyage” uses motion capture and advanced real-time graphics to have the band perform as de-aged digital avatars, previously told CNBC he had concerns about the creation of “deep fakes.”

“There’s a good side to it and then a scary side, and we’ll just have to see where that leads,” McCartney told the BBC.

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