John, Paul and George Perform Dueling Guitar Solos on The Beatles’ Farewell Song (1969)

It all came to an end with “The End,” the last real track on the Beatles’ final studio album Abbey Road.* Recorded in July and August of 1969, “The End” takes up the last 2 minutes and 20 seconds of the masterful 16-minute medley (listen here) that brings Abbey Road to a climax. And it features some of the last great “cosmic, philosophical lines” (as John Lennon later called them) the Beatles left us to ponder:

And in the end,
The love you take,
Is equal to the love you make.

The song also gave us something we weren’t accustomed to: all four Beatles performing a solo. Any ardent Beatles fan knows that Ringo Starr never liked drum solos. As Paul recalled years later, “[Ringo] hated drummers who did lengthy drum solos. We all did.” Despite this general view, McCartney thought a solo worked on this final track, and it took a fair amount of “gentle persuasion” before Starr relented and gave us the only drum solo performed on a Beatles album. You can hear it below.

The End has another signature moment — the moment when Paul, George and John sparred on lead guitars, playing solos in rapid succession, without missing a beat. As you’ll see in the annotated video above, Paul kicks things off with a solo that features some fancy string bends. George picks up with some melodic slides. And John takes over with his own distortion-filled solo. Around it goes three times, until we reach the end.

If you’re into Beatles guitar solos, make sure you don’t miss “Here Comes The Sun: The Lost Guitar Solo by George Harrison.” It’s delightful.

Note: When we call “The End” the last real track on Abbey Road, we’re discounting “Her Majesty,” the 23-second song that was tacked on as something of an afterthought. We call Abbey Road the last studio album because it was recorded after (though released before) Let It Be.

Related Content:

Guitarist Randy Bachman Demystifies the Opening Chord of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

The Beatles: Unplugged Collects Acoustic Demos of White Album Songs (1968)

Peter Sellers Reads The Beatles’ “She Loves You” in Four Voices

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  • Debby S