The Beatles Rooftop Concert

The Beatles Rooftop Concert took place on January 30, 1969 atop of the Beatles’ Apple Records located at 3 Savile Row, in central London. Although a lot is written about how “impromptu” the concert was, it really happened after a lot of brainstorming. To begin with, the Beatles were already filming the documentary at rehearsals at Twickenham studios. The original idea was to film a television special that had the working title, of “Get Back.” This is why the music (especially in bootlegs) is often referred to as the “Get Back Sessions.” Songs not included in the album, “Let It Be” were collected and made part of the Beatles “White Album” and “Abbey Road.”

While filming, neither the Beatles nor director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg had come up with an ending that would please all four Beatles. Eventually, the idea of an outdoor concert was arrived at, but nobody could agree on the venue. Suggestions were made to do it overseas, but Ringo objected. So while essentially complete, the film still lacked an ending. One of the ideas offered was to film an open-air concert in front of the pyramids of Egypt – Paul’s idea. Another suggestion of Paul’s was to film the ending on top of an ocean liner, but again this idea found no favor amongst the other three. Other suggestions were made to do it overseas, but Ringo objected to all of these. It was actually Ringo who suggested doing it on the roof of the Apple building, which obviously won out. So when the Beatles took to the roof, it was already a sort of planned event. On January 26, it was agreed and finalized that the rooftop concert would take place four days later on January 30.

According to George Harrison,
“We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it 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. It was a nice little social study.
We set up a camera in the Apple reception area, behind a window so nobody could see it, and we filmed people coming in. The police and everybody came in saying, ‘You can’t do that! You’ve got to stop.”

When filming on the roof actually did begin, it last for 42 minutes; it was have lasted longer except for the complaints of a neighbor and police.

Perhaps still suffering from the hostility that plagued his band members, George Harrison stood and played far to the right of John & Paul, instead of in the middle and sharing a microphone with Paul. It was now John Lennon who took the center of the stage, with Paul McCartney to his left; each had their own microphone. The traditional band set-up was that Paul stood always to the right of George, who was essentially in the middle, while John Lennon stood by himself to the left of the other two. Also, it was usually Paul and George who shared a microphone, but this time they all stood far apart. At the Beatles Rooftop Concert, all three singers stood alone, perhaps a hint of what would soon be the break-up of the Beatles.

The music line-up was as follows:
1. “Get Back” was sung twice at the opening; the first was a rehearsal. The film, “Let It Be” actually includes pieces of both versions.
2. “Don’t Let Me Down”
3. “I’ve Got A Feeling” (George sings back-up to this, but is otherwise silent during the rest of the rooftop recording)
4. “One After 909”
5. “Danny Boy”
6. “Dig A Pony” which had a false start in which Lennon had to blow his nose.
7. “God Save the Queen” with Billy Preston and was completely eliminated from both the movie and the album.
8. The third version of “Get Back.” With the police presence, the filming actually broke down in quality and you can hear Paul McCartney ad-libbing, “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your Momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested!”

The filming was finally brought to a halt due to police interference. The last couple lines of the line include Paul McCartney thanking Maureen Starkey for her applause saying, “Thanks Mo.” The final line in the film is said by John Lennon, “I’d like to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition!”
Within a year, the Beatles officially broke up, leaving the Beatles Rooftop Concert to be their last.

The Beatles – Rooftop Concert (London Original… by STARDUST72

“The Beatles Rooftop Concert was written by Brenne Meirowitz.  ©2014 Brenne Meirowitz. All Rights Reserved.

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