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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