It was fifty years ago today- Thursday January 30, 1969- The Beatles last concert had been back in August 1966 in San Francisco. They became a studio band after they quit the madness of touring. Then on January 30, 1969 they made a planned but unannounced concert on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row in London. The idea had been hatched a few days earlier- it is uncertain exactly who had the idea. Recording engineer Glyn Johns claims in his autobiography it was his idea. Billy Preston who would join the group on the rooftop said it was John Lennon’s idea. Whoever had the idea- it was a moment of genius.
The concert on the rooftop would late for 42 minutes and it was filmed by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg as part of the Get Back sessions that were being filmed at the time- which would later be turned into the documentary Let It Be. He also had cameras down on the street to get the reactions of the people who would gather on the street once they heard what was going on.
Here is the set list for the rooftop concert
- Get Back” (take one)
- “Get Back” (take two)
- “Don’t Let Me Down” (take one)
- “I’ve Got a Feeling” (take one)
- “One After 909”
- “Dig a Pony”
- “I’ve Got a Feeling” (take two)
- “Don’t Let Me Down” (take two)
- “Get Back” (take three)
The people on the street were enjoying the concert but the police grew concerned over the noise and the traffic issues. Employees wouldn’t let the police enter at first but when threatened with arrest they let them in. When The Beatles saw their concert was going to be shut down they played for a couple more minutes and when they finished Get Back- John Lennon said “I’d like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.” I would say they did.
If given the choice to have attended any concert in rock music history- first I would have liked to have seen The Beatles back at the Cavern in Liverpool before they became famous. My second choice would be to have been on the rooftop watching this concert. The most famous 1969 concert- Woodstock- no thanks.