Friday, January 30, 2009

A Last Concert, For All the World to Hear

It was 40 years ago today that the Beatles played their last "concert" ever. On January 30, 1969, they were concluding the filming of "Let It Be," their movie about the making of a Beatles album. (It was originally called "Get Back" because the album was supposed to be about getting back to their roots of music making. But it was strewn with problems and later changed to "Let It Be.")

The documentary film was originally supposed to conclude with the Beatles doing a live concert, but the tensions within the group were strong, and the film is basically showing the group coming apart. (I have seen "Let It Be" just once. A friend of mine had a VHS copy of it and lent it to me about 20 years ago. Parts of it are painful to watch, but also fascinating at the same time. "Let It Be" has not been available for nearly a generation and there are no plans for its release on DVD.)

Since the Beatles couldn't agree on a live venue to play at, they instead , along with keyboardist Billy Preston, went up to the roof of Apple Records on Savile Row and began playing. Word on the street spread like wildfire and it began drawing crowds of people on the street and on other rooftops.

The police showed up and eventually shut the concert down. But the Beatles played five songs that were recorded that would be the final ones they ever did for audience: "Get Back," "Don't Let Me Down," "One After 909," "Dig a Pony" and "I've Got a Feeling." When it concluded, John Lennon made a famous remark that made it on to the Let It Be album as "Get Back" concluded:

"I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!"

I believe they did.


Peter N said...

JQ, when I read your John Lennon words, it was HIS voice in my head. You can find the entire rooftop concert, as well as SHEA STADIUM and SO SO much more, on the DVD set THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY. It's 12 hours of sheer amazment...great sound and picture, too. And every Beatle's song video ever made.
Enjoy the Super Bowl, and don't forget about the halftime show! Some guy named Bruce will try to rock the crowd, and the world. He will!

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thanks for all the info Peter. And enjoy the Super Bowl (as well as the halftime show) too!