The Beatles Rooftop Concert: A Window into the Break-up
By January 1969, the Beatles were recording the “Get Back Sessions,” which would eventually resolve into two Beatles albums Abbey Road and Let It Be. Although the Rooftop Concert was the last time that the Beatles played before a live audience, it was not the end of them recording and filming together for the documentary, Let It Be. As busy as they were, there was still room for infighting; the Rooftop Concert would be their farewell to playing live to an audience, and shortly thereafter, the end of the Beatles. Let’s begin with George Harrison’s plight. George, who had already been playing in the back seat, so to speak, behind John & Paul was disgruntled. He had found deep respect amongst rock legends such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, yet he was still treated by John & Paul somewhat as persona non grata, when it came to recording his own songs. Many of the songs produced during and slightly before the Get Back Sessions were to appear on his solo album, “All Things Must Pass.” These included “All Things Must Pass” and “Let It Down.” The songs that did make the final cut for the Let It Be album were “For You Blue” and “I Me Mine.” Besides playing backseat to John & Paul, George had another new face to contend with, that is John Lennon’s then girlfriend, Yoko Ono. At one point, George just got up and left the studio due to the ongoing friction between himself and John, Yoko, and Paul. This, as well as other problems between the group would lead to the Beatles ultimate break-up. This is not to say that they broke-up because of George, it only is an example of how things were going down and snowballed in January 1969. There was also the specter of Phil Spector producing the band; Phil was brought on by John and Yoko and not necessarily a welcome addition for the other three Beatles. Earlier than George, Ringo Starr had left the studio during the earlier recording sessions of The Beatles, also known as the Beatles White Album. He would come and go exhausted and discontent. Ringo made it a point to distance himself from any decision making or infighting between the other three and Yoko Ono. Again, neither Ringo nor Yoko is to blame for the break-up. The friction emanated from their lack of organization due to the fact that there was no one except Paul to try to make things work and the others resented his assertiveness. In fact, it was only Paul who tried to keep the band together no matter what the problems were. Nonetheless, it was Paul who was the first to publically announce that he was leaving the group, even though John Lennon had announced it privately before him. Although the Beatles Rooftop Concert is used for the end of the film, “Let It Be,” it was not the end of the Beatles actually recording together. Back inside they would finish up music for Abbey Road as well as Let It Be. The rooftop concert took place on January 30, 1969 and was to be the last time that the four Beatles would perform live together. Later solo albums would pair Ringo, George, and John together and George and Ringo together, but it was Paul who totally cut his ties professionally with the other three after the break-up. This is ironic, due to the fact it was Paul who was the only one who tried to keep the fab four together in the first place. “The Beatles Rooftop Concert: A Window into the Break-up” was written by Brenne Meirowitz. Copyright Brenne Meirowitz 2014. All Rights Reserved.