Friday, July 11, 2014

The Beatles' Rooftop Concert

There are many pertinent facts about the Beatles' fabled Rooftop Concert.  The concert came at the end of the Let It Be recording sessions.  The original concept for the album and accompanying film documentary, Let It Be, was to conclude the project and film with a Beatles concert, although no agreement could be found as to where it should take place.  Ringo recalls that some ideas centered on performing at the Palladium.  Other ideas included performing on board a ship or on a Greek island.  The lack of agreement reflected the band's turmoil during this period, a friction that can clearly be seen in the Let It Be film.  General consensus says that a few days before thr Rooftop Concert was staged, the Beatles finally decided to get the project over with--by that time they were ready to end the very unhappy sessions--by simply going to the rooftop of 3 Savile Row in London and playing some of the tracks they'd been working on.

The concert was held on January 30, 1969 after Beatles roadies brought the instruments, amplifiers, and recording equipment to the roof.  The film's director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg used camera crews to record the group's performance from many angles, including exterior shots from the roofs of other buildings as well as the sidewalk, where pedestrian reaction was also captured on tape.  Engineer Alan Parson used two eight-track machines to record the musical event.

Spectators on lunch break congregated on the streets below when the Beatles started playing, and while most people, young and old, received the concert favorably, the Metropolitan Police became concerned about the growing traffic and noise.  Neil Aspinall and other Apple employees refused to allow the police inside to halt the concert but relented when faced with arrest although they did their best to stall for time.

The concert was comprised of nine takes of five songs:

Get Back
Don't Let Me Down
I've Got a Feeling
One After 909
I Dig a Pony

Takes of "I've Got a Feeling," "One After 909," and "I Dig a Pony" were used on the vinyl issue of Let It Be.  The concert abruptly ended with "Get Back," after which Lennon utters the famous line "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition."  Ringo and McCartney have both said that they had hoped that the police would have literally dragged them away in order to have a dramatic ending to the film.

The concert has become both iconic and legendary.  In the fifth season of The Simpsons, for example, Homer's barbershop quartet performs on the roof of Moe's Tavern.  Episode guest George Harrison drives up in a car and says, "It's been done."  A rooftop concert was also featured in the 2007 film Across the Universe.

For the concert, Lennon played lead and rhythm guitar, McCartney bass, Harrison lead and rhythm guitar, Starr drums, and Billy Preston the electric piano.  Lennon and McCartney do lead and backing vocals, and Harrison does backing vocals.


Beatles Albums: Background and History
Beatles Biography
Beatles Connections: Official Websites for the Beatles Inner Circle
Beatles Discography
Beatles Films
Beatles General Discussion Topics
Beatles History
Beatles News
Beatles Roadies: Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans
Beatles Solo Discography
Beatles Songs Discussed on
Beatles Songs - Solo
Beatles Timelines
Beatles Trivia Quiz
Books About the Beatles
Books by John Lennon and George Harrison
Sites Related to Beatles History
Songs Covered by the Beatles
The Beatles Official Website
The Lennon Pages

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