On this date in 1969, The Beatles had their last public performance, playing on their record company’s roof in London.
Here are some things you may not have known about the concert.
The performance was unannounced and caught the lunchtime crowd of office workers on the streets below by surprise. The previous year, The Beatles had started a multimedia corporation called Apple Corps Limited. The concert was conducted on the roof of the company’s headquarters at 3 Saville Row, during recording sessions for the album that eventually became “Let it Be.”
The album was originally intended to be called “Get Back” after one of the songs, and as a reference to the group’s effort to get back to basics after several heavily produced albums. The recording process, however, was from all reports, a disaster, leading George Harrison to leave the band for a week. During his absence, John Lennon reportedly wanted to hire Eric Clapton to replace Harrison, but Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr wouldn’t agree. Harrison returned a week later, bringing along keyboardist Billy Preston to help ease tensions. The sessions were then moved to Apple Studio.
The sessions were filmed as part of a planned movie. As a finale for the film, a rooftop concert was devised. Harrison initially resisted, calling the idea “silly,” but relented for the sake of the film.
Wires from the control room in the basement were run to the roof to record the sessions. The four Beatles and Preston played nine takes of five songs during the 42-minute show. Takes of the songs “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909” and Dig a Pony,” were eventually used on the album, while chatter was used on and between other tracks.
Eventually, the crowd of onlookers began to snarl traffic, and noise complaints arose, leading the Metropolitan Police to try to shut down the performance. Initially Apple employees wouldn’t let police in the building, but changed their minds after being threatened with arrest. The band played for several minutes longer, before concluding with Lennon’s now famous ending.
While “Let It Be” was the final Beatles album released, it wasn’t the last to be recorded. The sessions for “Abbey Road” began less than three weeks after the “Get Back” sessions ended.
Our question: What was the Beatles’ final No. 1 hit song in the United States?
Today is unofficially Yodel for Your Neighbors Day, National Croissant Day, and Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.
It’s the birthday of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who was born in 1882; actor Gene Hackman, who is 87; and musician Phil Collins, who is 66.
This week in 1969, the top song in the U.S. was “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells.
The No. 1 movie was “Oliver!,” while the novel “The Salzburg Connection” by Helen MacInnes topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.
Weekly question: What were Billy Preston’s two No. 1 singles in the United States?
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