Yesterday (30th January) marked 50 years since the Beatles played their final ever gig as a band. On the 30th January, 1969 – The Beatles climbed a London rooftop to play their final ever public performance. In a time pre-dating long album roll outs, the Beatles previewed their then, upcoming 4th album, Let it Be, with an off the cuff, 42 minute set on the roof of their record label, Apple.
The metropolitan police eventually stopped the performance, but not before film-makers had not only captured the memorable set, but the reactions of those in attendance and in the local area. Whilst the footage made it onto the Let it Be, documentary, this was the last time the fans would see the Beatles perform live.
Getting the band to play any live show at all during that time was surprising, considering the Beatles announced they wouldn’t be touring after 1966, due to the masses of fans drowning out their concerts and the increasingly complex arrangements of their newer music, which was difficult to recreate in a live setting.
George Harrison said, “We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there.”
Hundreds of fans gathered in the streets, crowding nearby rooftops and balconies as well as disrupting traffic and local businesses. Before being shut down by the police, the band had managed to get through 9 takes of 5 songs, finishing with the final version of Let it Be.