Woman Who Played on “Now and Then” Died Without Knowing She Contributed to a Beatles Song

A viola player named Caroline Buckman who contributed to the recently released Beatles single, “Now and Then,” died without ever knowing that she played on a song by the famous group.

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According to CBC News, Buckman, who passed away in March of 2023 at age 48 after a battle with breast cancer, was among the string players enlisted by Paul McCartney to contribute to a session where the musicians purposely weren’t told about the track to keep secret the fact that it was to be for the supposed “last” Beatles song.

[RELATED: Paul McCartney Says Working on New Beatles Song “Now and Then” Was “Magical” and “Joyful”]

The session took place in Los Angeles in 2022, and as McCartney explained in the recent documentary about the making of “Now and Then,” “We had to put the music out on the stands for the musicians, but we couldn’t tell them it was a new Beatles song. It was all a bit hush-hush. We pretended it was just something of mine.” Buckman can even be seen in footage that appears in the doc.

When the news finally was revealed about the song, which was released on November 2, Buckman’s mother was informed that her daughter had actually played on a track by The Beatles.

“She would have been delirious [with joy] about it,” Erika told CBC News. “It is sad [that she never knew, but] … I’m very proud.”

According to the CBC report, Caroline Buckman was one of the musicians who was invited in April 2022 to take part in a session for Paul McCartney at Capitol Records studio in Los Angeles. The players were given sheet music to a song that was titled “Give & Take.” The string arrangement was created by McCartney, producer Giles Martin, and composer Ben Foster.

Buckman was an accomplished session musician who’d played viola on the soundtracks of many well-known movies and TV shows, as well as for projects by Brian Wilson, Neil Young, R.E.M., and many others, but contributing to a track involving The Beatles legend was especially exciting for her, her boyfriend Mitch Brown told CBC.

“She was super-thrilled,” he noted. “She said, ‘I played with Paul McCartney today.’ In her entire career, she’d never asked a colleague [for an autograph].”

McCartney was gracious enough to sign the top of her sheet music, something he also did for the other musicians who played on the track, and Buckman had the sheet framed.

Violin player Charlie Bisharat, a friend of Buckman’s who also contributed to “Now and Then,” reflected on her passing and mused about her getting to work on The Beatles track.

“I think she’s hanging out with John Lennon right now,” he commented to CBC. “But yeah, it’s sad she didn’t know what this was. It would’ve been great for her to take that knowledge with her, but also an epic honor, to go down in history having been on the session.”

As previously reported, “Now and Then” was built around a demo that the late John Lennon recorded in the late 1970s, that McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison worked on during the 1990s but didn’t complete. Then, after the quality of Lennon’s vocal track was improved using modern technology, McCartney and Starr recorded new vocal and musical parts in 2022, and the string arrangement was added to complete the song.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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