The Last Beatles Concert EVER
Virtual Concert Series: The Beatles Rooftop Performance
On January 30, 1969, The Beatles gave their final live performance on the rooftop of the Apple Records building at 3 Savile Row, London.
I was born in the Sixties during the height of Beatlemania. My parents played Beatles records all day long (and sometimes all night long as well). I've sucked up Beatles songs with my mother's milk and this music became imprinted on my brain forever.
Along with countless millions of other people, the Beatles' music has accompanied me through my entire life. So much has been written and re-written about the Beatles that there is really nothing new of general interest that I could possibly add.
However, since someone challenged me to do this, let us roll back the time to that fateful day in 1969, when The Beatles performed live for the world for the very last time. If there was one single event in musical history I wish I could attend, this is it. This page is focused entirely on the final live Beatles performance, commonly just referred to as "The Rooftop Concert".
45th Anniversary Of The Beatles' Rooftop Concert
Yes, it's really been that long ago!
Can you believe it? On January 30, 2014 we celebrated the 45th anniversary of the last Beatles concert ever! Although I was too young to have a personal recollection of the event I was shocked to realize how much time had passed since then.
All the more reason to preserve this precious memory, which is what brought us here together in the first place...
The Beatles - Rooftop Performance
A Rooftop, Of All Places...
Why did the Beatles choose such an inconspicuous location for an event of such monumental, historic magnitude?
In January 1969, The Beatles began a film project documenting the making of their next record, originally titled Get Back. The original concept for the film project called for the documentary to end with a live show, the first live public performance by the band since the end of their last tour (August 29, 1966, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco). Most of the performance was filmed and later included in the film Let It Be.
However, agreeing on a format for the live show proved problematic. Paul McCartney suggested playing a small club, like the Beatles had in the early days. John Lennon suggested an overseas location such as Africa (although he also expressed a sarcastic desire to perform the show in an asylum). Ringo Starr held out for staying home in England. George Harrison showed little enthusiasm for any live performance at all.
After failing to agree on any other venue, the band settled for an unannounced concert atop their own building, Apple's headquarters in Savile Row near Piccadilly Circus (London).
The 42-minute show (about half of which comprises the sensational close to the Let It Be film) was a lunchtime blast into the cold wind on a high London rooftop in January.
Much was commercially used from the 42 minutes on the roof, in the Let It Be film and on the Get Back (unissued) and Let It Be albums.
The performance and the film close with the police arriving and shutting the concert down. The rooftop concert has been a popular bootleg ever since, and was to be the final public performance by the Beatles.
With the new release of remastered Beatles albums and the interactive software The Beatles: Rock Band we can experience the Fab Four like never before.
Beatlemania is alive and well!
Visit The Beatles Store on Amazon to secure your copies!
The Beatles - Get Back
These videos span the greater part of the unannounced performance, interspersed with street scenes and interviews of surprised spectators. This concert also gives a good glimpse of Londoners during the late 60's.
The Beatles played five songs during the rooftop performance: "Get Back" (three times), "Don't Let Me Down" (twice), "I've Got a Feeling" (twice), "One After 909", and "Dig a Pony". (The Beatles also played a brief version of the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen" and a brief rehearsal of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" while second engineer Alan Parsons was changing tapes. Those performances were omitted from the film.)
The Beatles - Don't Let Me Down (Live Rooftop Concert Version)
What follows now are clips of the individual songs performed during the Rooftop Concert. Some were played multiple times in different versions, but for the purpose of this Virtual Concert I shall stick to just one of each.
THE BEATLES - I've Got A Feeling (Live Rooftop Concert Version)
I've Got A Feeling, with John saying at the end, "Oh, my soul... [applause]... so hard". (George sings a little on I've Got A Feeling; he is otherwise vocally silent during the rooftop performance.)
An Insider's Eyewitness Account Of The Rooftop Concert
“The feeling the few of us up there that cold January day experienced was something magical. We all knew something special was going down but it couldn't be defined at that time. I saw the Beatles from a few feet away being the band they started out to be -- ironic that it was also the beginning of the end.”
Ken Mansfield in an interview with Daytrippin'
The Rooftop As Seen By Ken Mansfield
THE BEATLES - One After 909 (Live Rooftop Concert Version)
The One After 909, ending with John sarcastically reciting a line of the 1913 standard Danny Boy. (Let It Be film and LP, and Get Back LP.)
The Beatles - Dig A Pony (Live Rooftop Concert Version)
Dig A Pony, with a false start ("one, two, three, hold it [John blows nose] one, two, three"). Ends with John saying "Thank you brothers... hands too cold to play the chords."
THE BEATLES - Get Back (Live Rooftop Concert Version)
Get Back, the third rooftop version, somewhat distracted owing to police presence, seeking to bring the show to a close. The song almost breaks down but lurches to a finish, with Paul 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!"
At the end Paul acknowledges the fervent applause and cheering from Ringo's wife Maureen with "Thanks, Mo" and then John, having stepped away from the microphone, returns to add, somewhat hammily, "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition!"
There really aren't too many photographs of this event. So I painstakingly went through the bootleg videos frame by frame to find some usable images of our Fab Four and the lucky audience.This is fun: Not everyone was enjoying this precious gift at lunch hour though; some stern businessmen seemed rather not amused at the disruption of orderly conduct.
Rooftop Concert SlideshowClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Beatles Rooftop Concert on CD / DVD
Once in a while, somebody offers bootleg copies of the last Beatles performance on eBay. Grab one while you can!
THE BEATLES - Let It Be - The Movie - When will we get a remastered version of the original film on DVD?
The film has been out of circulation since being released on VHS video, RCA SelectaVision videodisc, and laserdisc in the early 1980s. These early video copies were considerably poorer quality than the original theatrical release of the film because of rough conversion from 8-millimetre and 16-millimetre prints. DVD bootlegs of the film are usually derived from VHS or visually superior laserdisc versions, although there are very few laserdiscs that are in pristine performance condition as a result of laser rot.
In a February 2007 interview with Neil Aspinall (the head of Apple Corps Ltd.) regarding the remastering of the film for DVD release, he stated, "The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realized: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues."
This is an indication that it may be a very long time before Let It Be is ever reissued on DVD.
For fans and collectors who don't want to wait THAT long, there's always eBay...
The Beatles - Last Concert Ever
I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!
Fun Gift For Beatles Fans
What do you give a Beatles fan who has every album, video, books, posters, autographed guitars etc, without breaking the bank?
Easy - The Beatles Monopoly of course! This is a must have for any Beatles fan...
"There's a certain kind of lensmaking magic going on here, and I'll tell you what it is. It's a combination of history and memoir, fact and personal story, photos and articles, videos and photos, singular opinion and reader feedback, and most of all, passion for the topic at hand."
-- Megan Casey
(former Editor in Chief of Squidoo)
Credits, Thanks and Acknowlegements
On January 29, 2009, this lens was featured as Squidoo's Lens of the Day (LOTD). This has been an incredible honor and I am so glad that, as a result, the many visitors to this lens had a great time taking that trip down memory lane with me. Thank you, Megan!
The material and information used herein, if not attributed otherwise, are attributed to the following sources, although I cannot be certain that these sources are the originators of the material.
The Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn
9 Oct 1940 - 8 Dec 1980
25 Feb 1943 - 29 Nov 2001
I hope you have enjoyed this little trip back in time, the Virtual Concert of the Last Beatles Live Performance Ever!
Thank you for celebrating these special memories with me. It means a lot to me that you stopped by today!
Now wipe away that tiny tear forming in the corner of your eye, and drop me a line to cheer me up, please...