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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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
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…
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.
Props to the guy rocking up to the rooftop with a pipe in his mouth. Those were classier days.
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.
I miss George.
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!
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.
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?
They looked like they were having so much fun here.
…….and I was there :)
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.
My fav group since their broadcast on Ed Sullivan. They will always be my fav group.
John Lennon was the profit of our generation.
I was there. Worked for AMF next door. The memory of my life.
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/\.
I wonder if Lennon made a profit from being a prophet?