While sitting on the mini-balcony of my guesthouse in Lisbon this afternoon, enjoying a Davidoff and enduring the caterwauling of a group of kids in the adjacent courtyard, my iPhone, after weeks of not accepting new emails, dinged, and I found eight new emails, among them one from the Boston Globe.
Besides a piece on the arctic deep freeze folks from the midwest to the east coast are enduring, the Globe editors noted that it was 50 years ago today that the Beatles performed live for the last time, on the roof of their Apple Studios.
From the Boston Globe:
Finally, it was fifty years ago today … that the Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — played together live for the last time. It was an impromptu 42-minute “concert” on the roof of Apple’s offices on Savile Row in central London, where they had been recording their album “Let It Be” in a basement studio. (A young keyboardist, Billy Preston, accompanied them.)
The Beatles played nine takes of five songs in this order:
“Get Back” (take one)
“Get Back” (take two)
“Don’t Let Me Down” (take one)
“I’ve Got a Feeling” (take one)
“One After 909”
“Dig a Pony”
“I’ve Got a Feeling” (take two)
“Don’t Let Me Down” (take two)
“Get Back” (take three)
The concert, held around lunchtime, at first confused the office workers and shoppers on the streets below. When they realized what was going on, the crowd grew, with many climbing onto adjacent rooftops for a better view. Police, concerned about traffic as well as the noise, entered the Apple building and made their way to the roof, where they ordered the music stopped.
The band still played for several more minutes; on the spot, Paul changed the lyrics of his song “Get Back” to say “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your Momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested!” When they finished playing, John said, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
Even though fans hoped the performance was a precursor to the band’s return to touring, which they hadn’t done since 1965, it was not to be. They recorded one more album, “Abbey Road,” which was released the year before “Let It Be,” but by September of 1969, it was pretty much over.
“But it never really ended, did it,” the Globe article concluded.
No, I thought, it didn’t. And as long as I and countless other people who experienced the joy of witnessing all the Beatles wrought remain on this earth, it won’t.
Thanks, boys. By the way, you passed the audition.