The Beatles’ Final, “Painful” Photo Shoot: A Gallery of Bittersweet Images


Well, this is bit­ter­sweet. The pho­to above comes from The Bea­t­les’ final pho­to shoot togeth­er at John Lennon’s new­ly pur­chased estate in Sun­ninghill Berk­shire: clear­ly not a wel­come event for at least one Bea­t­le. The band had just com­plet­ed their final two album releas­es, Let it Be and Abbey Road—famous­ly con­tentious record­ing ses­sions in which George Har­ri­son walked out for a few days with a flip­pant “See you ‘round the clubs,” prompt­ing John Lennon to snap (accord­ing to direc­tor Michael Lind­say-Hogg), “Let’s get in Eric [Clap­ton]. He’s just as good and not such a headache.”

George lat­er recalled the cir­cum­stances of the shoot:

They were film­ing us hav­ing a row. It nev­er came to blows, but I thought, ‘What’s the point of this? I’m quite capa­ble of being rel­a­tive­ly hap­py on my own and I’m not able to be hap­py in this sit­u­a­tion. I’m get­ting out of here.’

Every­body had gone through that. Ringo had left at one point. I know John want­ed out. It was a very, very dif­fi­cult, stress­ful time, and being filmed hav­ing a row as well was ter­ri­ble. I got up and I thought, ‘I’m not doing this any more. I’m out of here.’ So I got my gui­tar and went home and that after­noon wrote Wah-Wah.

It became sti­fling, so that although this new album was sup­posed to break away from that type of record­ing (we were going back to play­ing live) it was still very much that kind of sit­u­a­tion where he already had in his mind what he want­ed. Paul want­ed nobody to play on his songs until he decid­ed how it should go. For me it was like: ‘What am I doing here? This is painful!’

See many more pho­tos from the shoot and read more painful details about the ses­sions and, yes, Yoko, over at Messy Nessy Chic.

via Mefi

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 10-Minute, Nev­er-Released, Exper­i­men­tal Demo of The Bea­t­les’ “Rev­o­lu­tion” (1968)

A Short Film on the Famous Cross­walk From the Bea­t­les’ Abbey Road Album Cov­er

Eric Clapton’s Iso­lat­ed Gui­tar Track From the Clas­sic Bea­t­les Song, ‘While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps’ (1968)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (3)
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  • Dave J says:

    …oh my.…where to begin?.….lots of crossed wires going here. The Bea­t­les rehearsed/recorded “Let It Be” in Jan­u­ary 1969 and, yes, those ses­sions were often unhap­py. The “film­ing us hav­ing a row” quote refers to the film crew (movie) film­ing the Bea­t­les dur­ing those Jan­u­ary ’69 ses­sions as George and Paul have a tense “dis­cus­sion”. George briefly left the band short­ly after.
    “Abbey Road” was record­ed in August of 1969 and was, by most accounts, a hap­py affair. The still pho­tos are from their final pho­to shoot on August 22.

  • Barb says:

    John Lennon con­sid­ered Eric Clap­ton as “just as good” a gui­tarist as George Har­ri­son. That’s hilar­i­ous! Clap­ton was a way bet­ter musi­cian than all of them put togeth­er and most oth­er gui­tarists of his time.

  • Bob says:

    What Dave J said except the Abbey Road ses­sions occu­pied most of that sum­mer and indeed parts of the spring. The main arti­cle here, by Mr. Josh Jones of North Car­oli­na, is quite ridicu­lous­ly inac­cu­rate.

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