The Last Recordings of The Beatles, 1969-94

Outside Abbey Road 1969
Outside Abbey Road 1969
George, Ringo and Paul-one last time-1994
George, Ringo and Paul-one last time-1994

The myth is that Abbey Road was the Beatles final LP and time when they were together in the studio. The date of that myth is August 20, 1969. But it was not the last time they recorded. Between this date and early 1970, John continued to work on a 22 month old song entitled, "What's the New Mary Jane", an odd song that was suppose to be on the White LP. Paul had worked on it in May that year. It remained uncompleted until Nov. 26, 1969, when John and George finished it.

The song was advertised for release on Dec. 5th, but not under The Beatles name, but The Plastic Ono Band, John's new band. There was no mention of The Beatles on it except for the tag, " with instrumental support from greatest show business names of today". John being coy here. EMI refused to release it because it was considered a Beatle song and its history from 1968 proved it. They were playing on it. Also, the others opposed its release. I have heard the song and it is typical of John with Yoko ruining an otherwise okay song. The song is in the same genre as, "You Know My Name (look up my number)".

On January 3rd, 1970, even though many public comments had already announced the end of The Beatles and animosity ran high between them, The Beatles recorded the last time minus John. George provided a humorous way of informing the press: "You all will have read that Dave Dee is no longer with us. But Mickey, Tich and I would just like to carry on the good work". Dave Dee was John (he was in Denmark), Mickey and Tich are Paul and Ringo.

The last songs the remaining Beatles played and recorded for the still unreleased Get Back\Let It Be LP and movie was Harrison's "I Me Mine" and Paul's "Let It Be". A great song with a sizzling rock middle section. They recorded the song 16 times in a nine hour span at Abbey Road. It was the last take, #16, they used and the one that appeared on Let It Be. However, when Phil Spector got it, he knew it was much too short, being only one minute and 34 seconds. Unless it was lengthened, it would be the Beatles shortest song. Spector re-edited the song and spliced it at precise moments to lengthen it to two minutes and 25 seconds by looping it.

On January 4th, the three Beatles did the final dubs on Let It Be. How fitting that the last time they played was on a song with this title.

It would not occur again until 1994. That is when the same three, now much older, were given a cassette of Lennon's song, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", recorded in the mid-1970's. John was on the piano. Via new technology in recording, the three Beatles cleaned it up and played along with their long dead mate. Paul created a bass line and sang with John, Ringo did the drums, and George created a searing lead guitar. It rekindled lost love and friend that no doubt brought them to tears as they worked on it. It was a weird experience, George later noted. Yoko had given them the song. It was released as a single and just like days of long ago, it was #1 for a week or so. It would be the final Beatles record, ever.

That actually would be the last time Paul, George and Ringo were recording together. One could say, the last time The Beatles recorded. For in November, 2001, Harrison died of cancer. Paul was at his side when he slipped away in a Los Angeles hospital.

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Comments 9 comments

Paul 4 years ago

The Beatles were a band that the powers in the entertainment business were looking for. They were perfect. They were taken as rockers with greasy hair and leather jackets, and turned into a more stylized thing with matching Nehru jackets, Cuban heels and haircuts. I know what they hype and the legend around the creation of the Beatles is, but I don't believe a lot of it. They were marginally talented, and wrote songs like Love Me Do, and I Wanna Hold Your hand. You can never overlook just how much George Martin did for them in terms of developing melodies, rhythm patterns, arrangements and lyrics. His input was invaluable. Their sound engineer was Geoff Emerick, who was truly an engineeer of sounds, frequencies and waveforms. He was also British Navy.

Their first albums were tripe, and they didn't really mature as songwriters until around the time of Hard Day's Night and Help, but the albums sounded magnificent. All of the people around them steered them towards avant garde art, poetry, Marc Chagall, Dylan, classical music..... basically made these young guys into wordly people with a dearth of influences to inspire them. I know Brian Epstein gets a lot of credit as their manager, but he really had nothing to do with the making of the music, and the bigger they got, the less of a role he had to play.

The albums Rubber Soul and particularly Revolver are great, but I'll say it.... Sgt Peppers sucks. It's all about the sound of the album, more than the songs, it's all about those layers of instruments and other weirdness. You were supposed to be pulled into that album while tripping on LSD, or at the very least being stoned. The next album was weak too, a double album with little or no merit.... hey, not be totally dismissive, the "white" album had some decent tunes, but not enough to warrant a double album IMO. Then they did Magical Mystery Tour which was flat out awful, followed by Let It Be, which was the only one Martin didn't produce. And it was terrible sounding, the songs, aside from "Let It Be", were bad. Including "909", which was written when McCartney was 15 or so. Then, martin gets back with them, they take a few completed songs, and some rough sketches which Martin turned into the side 2 orchestral piece, and created Abbey Road. A great sounding record with a couple of decent songs, "Something" probably being the best.

Imagine is a commune - ist manifesto, unintentional or otherwise. We don't need utopia, we just need it to be fair and better for everyone. If everyone can eat well, and we can get back to basics a little, we'll be fine.

My favorite Lennon song is Instant Karma, followed by Gimme Some Truth. Double Fantasy had some really good songs.

Just what were the Beatles doing that earned them MBE's?? Selling records for EMI?? Promoting a positive British youth identity? For that matter why were McCartney and fricking Jagger knighted?? They must have been in service to the Queen for something....


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perrya 4 years ago Author

well, you certainly are in the minority. If your favorite song is Instant karma, well, many thought it was a B-side song. Cold Turkey was WAY better. Usually, when people badmouth the Beatles it indicates they are either too young to know their impact and thus naive or just as john would write, "a jealous guy".


one2get2no profile image

one2get2no 4 years ago from Olney

Didn't know about the 'free as a bird' / 'real love' recordings. Informative hub. Don't take any notice of Paul...I think you are right that he is far too young to understand the impact the fab four had on music.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

I agree! but, typical. I could not understand my mom's infatuation with Sinatra, she was a hardcore fan and teen when he appeared.


Paul 4 years ago

one2get2no: I think you are just a tool.


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perrya 4 years ago Author

The Beatles are the best, which is why so many young rockers and older ones always give credit to them for influence, from Green Day to Foo Fighters to Bieber.


Mark 4 years ago

"A Day in the Life" was definitely one of their best songs after Paul's death.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Huh, after Paul's death? R U serious?


Mark 4 years ago

Yes, in 1966.

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