The Beatles on the Roof by Tony BarrellWhen the worlds greatest pop band played their final public concert in January 1969, there were no tickets or posters printed. When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr emerged at lunchtime from the headquarters of their own company, Apple, five stories above Londons Savile Row, only a select group of people even knew what was happening.
The rooftop concert was one of the Beatles’ most spontaneous acts. Beatles on the Roof studies the rooftop concert in penetrating detail, uncovering new truths and debunking old myths about the event. Nobody knew it yet—not even the band—but this was the last time they would play live to the public. Now, in this illuminating micro-history of the greatest concert never attended, music journalist Tony Barrell examines the details of this final performance, bringing new perspective to one of the most revolutionary concerts ever performed.
THE BEATLES - GET BACK (ALTERNATE) - ROOFTOP PERFORMANCE 1969
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. The minute show was recorded onto two eight-track machines in the basement of Apple, by George Martin , engineer Glyn Johns and tape operator Alan Parsons. None of these were serious group efforts, and one — the group and Preston performing God Save The Queen — was incomplete as it coincided with Alan Parsons changing tapes.
It was, in fact, on a gusty London rooftop during the bitterly cold afternoon of January 30, The plan had initially been rather more grandiose. The film needed a climax, and so it was decided they would play a gig at an unorthodox location — but where? The Sahara desert? A year old amphitheatre in Tunisia? On board the newly built QE2 cruise ship?
It would end up being their final live show. Here are 10 things you might not have known about this strange moment in pop culture, on its 50th anniversary. Paul McCartney assumed leadership of the band and envisioned the follow-up to the White Album , tentatively titled "Get Back," as a return to basics. The band would write songs and bang them out as a four-piece ensemble, forsaking all the overdubs and lavish production of their past few albums. Ringo Starr was anxious for the project to end so as to not conflict with the filming of The Magic Christian , a comedy in which he was slated to star alongside Peter Sellers. John Lennon was prone to long silences, allowing the ever-present Yoko Ono to speak for him.