The Rooftop Concert (3)

Part One :
Part Two :

Part Three :
Part Four: 

The Twickenham Sessions

The Apple Sessions

>>>The Rooftop Concert <<<
The Apple Studio Performance
Comments were taken and adapted from The Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn.

Thursday - 30 January 1969
Apple Corps (Roof), London

The Beatles' celebrated rooftop show. An idea conceived during a meeting on 26 January, it was the first of two consecutive Beatles/Billy Preston performances which concluded the Get Back project, for on 31 January they ran through numbers inside the basement studio.

This day's work has passed into history as the Beatles' last live performance, even if it couldn't be classified as a concert. 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 - imagine a high London rooftop in January - that brought part of the capital to a standstill, until the police, in turn, brought the show to an enforced conclusion.

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. What follows is a detailed description of the full rooftop repertoire, as preserved on EMI's eight-track tapes, with a guide to how it was made available.

Setting-up. Michael Lindsay-Hogg shouts, "All cameras, take one!". The first song is a rehearsal of Get Back, the end of which is greeted with fairly polite applause which clearly reminds Paul of a cricket match, so he steps back to the microphone and mutters something about Ted Dexter (Sussex and England player of the time). John says, "We've had a request from Martin Luther."

2. Another version of Get Back. (The Let It Be film has a well-matched edit of these first two Get Back versions.) At the end of the song John says "Had a request for Daisy, Morris and Tommy."

3. Don't Let Me Down (Let It Be film), straight into...

4. I've Got A Feeling (Let It Be film and LP), 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.)

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.)

6. 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." (Let It Be film and LP, although for the latter producer Phil Spector edited out the song's opening and closing "All I want is" vocal lines.) The eight-track tape also has a brief rehearsal of the song before it began, and John asking for the words. In the film an assistant can be seen kneeling before him with the lyrics attached to a clipboard.

7. Second engineer Alan Parsons has changed tapes, the first one being full. While waiting, the Beatles and Billy Preston have strummed through a quick version of the national anthem, God Save The Queen. The new tape catches a few seconds of this, but it is neither released on record nor seen in the film.

8. I've Got A Feeling, second rooftop version. (Not released on record or seen in the film.)

9. Don't Let Me Down, second rooftop version. (Not released on record or seen in the film), straight into...

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!" (Paul and John's comments, but not this Get Back song, were included on the unreleased Get Back LP. The Let It Be LP employs a skilful crossfade from the 28 January "single" version of Get Back to these rooftop ad-libs, implying that the song itself was from the roof performance. The Let It Be film is the only publicly available true recording, with the lurching version of Get Back and the closing ad-libs.)

Basic studio documentation shows that certain (unspecified) titles were mixed into stereo by Glyn Johns during a 7.30-10.00 session this evening at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes. Acting on his own volition, Johns then had acetate discs cut from his mixes and presented them to the Beatles.

When Get Back was issued as a single, with Don't Let Me Down on the B-side, Apple distributed to TV stations 16mm colour promotional clips utilising Michael Lindsay-Hogg's film work. Although neither contained any footage from the actual 28 January studio recordings, both were synchronised to those versions, and both presented material different from that included in Let It Be when the film finally surfaced in May 1970. Get Back featured footage from the rooftop performance this day, Don't Let Me Down a combination of Twickenham filming and the rooftop performance.

Get Back was screened in Britain, on four editions of Top Of The Pops (all monochrome, BBC1, 7.30-8.00 pm)- Thursdays 24 April, 8 May, 15 May and 22 May 1969 and then, in colour, in part one of Top Of The Pops '69, shown on Christmas Day, 2.15-3.00 pm. Both Get Back and Don't Let Me Down were shown in the USA on the CBS-TV programme The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, on Wednesday 30 April 1969 (7.30-8.30 pm, EST).


Part 2   Part 4


Albums       GIF Animation       Paul and Friends      Gallery       Library       Macca's Bootlegs       Beatles' Bootlegs       Song Index       Video Tapes      Midi Files

Back To Top

Paul McCartney Is Live !