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51 years since The Beatles let it be

By Christopher Steele |

On this day 51 years ago, The Beatles would play what was to be their last performance in public together. A chance for us to look back on what was then, unbeknownst to us, their last show.

Try and picture the scene: arround midday on Savile Row in London's swanky Regent Street area. A bitter wind was blowing on January 30th 1969, not helped by the fact that the Fab Four were standing atop the roof of the Apple Corps building...

The Beatles had already been struggling with issues within and without the band, friendships were reaching breaking point and business agreements were becoming increasingly difficult to reach. The rooftop session had originally started life as an idea for a live album recording, which after being vetoed was then set to be a concert in an unsusal location, but George Harrison decided that the roof "was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there."

Luckily for us, audio and video recordings still exist: the band were testing out the location and seeing if any of the recordings of the tracks played (including Get Back, Don't Let Me Down and Dig A Pony) were worth including on their future albums.

The Beatles - Apple Rooftop Concert (1969) Full Video - YouTube from Roger Jr Dunn on Vimeo.

Traffic on the streets of London came to a standstill around the building, as people on their lunch breaks and passersby craned their necks up to see where the loud music was coming from! So much so, that the police from the station down the road came to tell them to put a stop to proceedings or turn the volume down. Eventually, after 42 minutes of playing, the concert was over... and The Beatles were never to play together again.

They would go on to release Abbey Road and Let It Be (although the latter was mostly recorded beforehand), but there were to be no more sessions as a four-piece. The legacy of the January 30th rooftop concert is summed up by drummer Ringo Starr: "It was a memorable day for me - we were doin' what we did best - making music." The last track of Let It Be, Get Back, finishes with John Lennon's joke at the end of the concert: "I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition." The Fab Four went out the way they knew best: a traffic-stopping appearance, short but sweet, all topped off with that lovable British humour.



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