The Last Recordings of The Beatles, 1969-94
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.