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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Comments (9)
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  • andy says:

    Critics actually call Abbey Road the last album because Let It Be is technically a soundtrack!

    Oh and Her Majesty wasn’t tacked on as an after thought. The engineer working on editing was told never to throw away any recorded Beatles material so he taped the Her Majesty bit to the end of the final mix. When Paul heard it, he thought it oddly fit, so they let it sneak in. It was originally slated between Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam

  • Rotcod says:

    The link to the video is busted. So what’s the order? Paul, George, John, three times over?

  • hissa says:


  • laphotographer says:

    john says in “lennon remembers” that he’s the 2nd solo

  • Tom Hartman says:

    They call Abbey Road the last album because it was recorded last, not because LET IT BE was a soundtrack.

  • ronnie g. says:

    always loved.. the end, such a fitting way to END..wasn’t sure which was George’s lead..
    I tell my kids how these guys rocked the whole world..and they’ll never be anything so great, like this ever! and how lucky we were to live in these times!

  • John Benard says:

    @Andy Abbey Road was the last Recorded album, that’s why many refer to it as the last album. Let it be was recorded before Abbey road and shelved. Then to be released after the breakup because people could not deal with no more Beatles.

  • Phil G. says:

    Let It Be was planned for release before the Beatles split was announced. It was actually Paul’s refusal to delay the release of his first solo album, McCartney, that precipitated matters and led to his public statement ( that was widely interpreted as the end of the group. Paul’s album came out in April 1970 and so Apple delayed the release of Let It Be until May. Although the album took a long time for Phil Spector to produce (or to “overproduce”, per George Martin), it was never shelved. And it was not released because “people could not deal with no more Beatles.”

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