Recorded during the Sgt. Pepper sessions, "Penny Lane" was released in February 1967 as one side of a double A-sided single, along with "Strawberry Fields Forever". Both songs were later included on the Magical Mystery Tour LP (1967). The single was the result of the record company wanting a new release after several months of no new Beatles releases.
Production began in Studio 2 at Abbey Road on 29 December 1966 with piano as the main instrument. On 17 January 1967, trumpet player David Mason recorded the piccolo trumpet solo. The solo, inspired by a performance of Bach's 2nd Brandenburg Concerto, is in a mock-Baroque style for which the piccolo trumpet (a small instrument built about one octave higher than the standard instrument) is particularly suited, having a clean and clear sound which penetrates well through thicker midrange textures. Mason was paid 27 pounds and 10 shillings for his performance on the recording. Penny Lane production effects include percussion effects, piano through a Vox guitar amplifier with added reverb.
The original US promo single mix of "Penny Lane" had an additional flourish of piccolo trumpet notes at the end of the song. This mix was quickly superseded by one without the last trumpet passage, but not before a handful of copies had been pressed and sent to radio stations. These recordings are among the rarest and most valuable Beatles collectibles. A stereo mix of the song with the additional trumpet added back in was included on the US Raritiescompilation and the UK album: The Beatles Box in 1980, and is included on an alternate take of the song released on Anthology 2 in 1996.
- Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and backing vocals, three pianos and bass
- John Lennon – harmony and backing vocals, two pianos, congas and handclaps
- George Harrison – backing vocal, handbell and handclaps
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
- George Martin – piano, production, orchestration
- David Mason – piccolo trumpet solo
- Ray Swinfield, P. Goody, Manny Winters – flutes, piccolos
- Leon Calvert, Freddy Clayton, Bert Courtley, Duncan Campbell – trumpets, flugelhorn
- Dick Morgan, Mike Winfield – oboes, cor anglais
- Frank Clarke – double-bass
- Personnel per Ian MacDonald