The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert: The Last Gig Filmed in January 1969

On a cold day in Jan­u­ary 1969, The Bea­t­les, who had­n’t played live since 1966, took to the rooftop of the head­quar­ters of Apple Records, locat­ed at 3 Sav­ile Row, in cen­tral Lon­don. And there they played an impromp­tu last gig, much to the delight of Lon­don­ers on near­by rooftops … and to the cha­grin of the police.

At the time, The Bea­t­les were record­ing their album, Let It Be, and the rooftop show let them run through var­i­ous tracks from that last effort. Songs played dur­ing the set include “Get Back,” where the Bea­t­les were accom­pa­nied by Bil­ly Pre­ston on the key­boards, and “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got A Feel­ing,” “One After 909,” and “Dan­ny Boy.” And final­ly “Dig A Pony” and anoth­er ver­sion of “Get Back.” We have the last song above. Watch a full playlist of videos here.

Famous­ly, The Bea­t­les’ live lega­cy ends with the police shut­ting down the show (it was a noise vio­la­tion, you know?) and John Lennon utter­ing the immor­tal words, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and our­selves, and I hope we passed the audi­tion.” That’s going out in style…

Foot­note: It’s not clear which band played the first rooftop con­cert, but one thing is for sure. Jef­fer­son Air­plane played their own rooftop gig on Decem­ber 7, 1968, and Jean-Luc Godard filmed it. Once again, the police pay a friend­ly vis­it. Watch it here.

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Comments (16)
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  • dennygoat says:

    i believe this is erro­neous infor­ma­tion. let it be was not their last record and also they played live last on aug 29 1966 in san fran­cis­co. thanx

  • Dan Colman says:

    Sor­ry to cor­rect you there, but Let It Be was their last stu­dio album as a full band, and the con­cert was played in ’69 — sev­er­al years after they stopped tour­ing…

  • Kevin Jones says:

    Just to clar­i­fy the record­ing chronol­o­gy: Most of “Let It Be” was record­ed in Jan­u­ary 1969. Record­ing for Abbey Road began in April of 1969.

  • Simon says:

    Props to the guy rock­ing up to the rooftop with a pipe in his mouth. Those were classier days.

  • Jaime Ortega says:

    There’s a small mis­take in here. Let It Be was the last album they released but Abbey Road would be their last stu­dio effort to be record­ed. Maybe it could be under­stood both ways on the arti­cle but you make it sound like they dis­band­ed after that.

  • Marianne Doczi says:

    Exquis­ite. Such an inti­mate “por­trait”. And a won­der­ful series of vignettes of Social his­to­ry — behav­ior of police. Com­ments peo­ple make. The clothes. And a pre­cur­sor of social media. Imag­ine the crowd now!

  • DJ says:

    Yes, there are two errors in this post that should be cor­rect­ed. Pri­or to the 1969 rooftop gig, the last time the Bea­t­les played live as a band was in 1966’ not 1965. And, again as not­ed by oth­er com­menters, Let It Be was indeed record­ed pri­or to Abbey Road, but released after as it was aban­doned by the band and left to Phil Spec­tor to mix. Abbey Road was the last stu­dio album record­ed.

    Also, it was not actu­al­ly impromp­tu. The band had been argu­ing for weeks about a live con­cert. Every­thing from play­ing a gig in the Sahara desert to on board the recent­ly launched Cruise ship the Queen Eliz­a­beth 2 were pro­posed and reject­ed. The lat­ter was Paul’s idea, which Lennon famous­ly quipped would be per­fect if they timed it so the sun set right on the mid­dle eight.

    The rooftop gig was the com­pro­mise, since they want­ed to get a show on film.

  • Bob Palaikis says:

    I have already notat­ed to all folks on Face­book that the NAZ­I’s have tak­en over. Only six months ago I was able to load and play for fun a cou­ple of the Bea­t­les lat­er songs. No they are banned. OR we have to pur­chase them? I sup­pose with­in 3 months inter­net will be a pay for use pro­duc­tion. Am I wrong you fuck­ing nazis?

  • Haggai says:

    They looked like they were hav­ing so much fun here.

  • Lesly says:

    .……and I was there :)

  • Mike says:

    I loved the Bea­t­les I nev­er seen them in con­cert but it was real­ly nice to see them on that roof top what an era.

  • Jan Dvorak says:

    My fav group since their broad­cast on Ed Sul­li­van. They will always be my fav group.
    John Lennon was the prof­it of our gen­er­a­tion.

  • Candace Laws says:

    I was there. Worked for AMF next door. The mem­o­ry of my life.

  • brian Bowman says:

    Saw them at Syd­ney (Aust) (as a 15 year old expa­tri­ate pom) at the Syd­ney Sta­di­um. After McCart­ney said “Hel­lo
    Sydney”…you could­n’t hear a word. No won­der they gave up/\.

  • Kevin Cox says:

    I won­der if Lennon made a prof­it from being a prophet?

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