“Get Back” to the The Beatles 1969 Surprise Rooftop Performance

LET IT BE, US poster art, The Beatles-clockwise from top left: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, 1970
Everett Collection

For many, the songs of John, Paul, George and Ringo are the indisputable soundtrack of the ’60s. The world had never seen anything like the public and media furor created by the Fab Four, and when the group made an unannounced live appearance on the rooftop of their London Apple Corps headquarters on Jan. 30, 1969, most fans didn’t realize it would be their final public performance.

The 42-minute rooftop concert consisted of a mix of takes for the songs that would appear in the movie Let It Be — “Get Back,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909” and “Dig a Pony.” Later in the year, while recording what would be the group’s final proper studio album, Abbey Road, on Aug. 20, 1969, the four Beatles entered the studio for what would be their last recording session all together. (A January 1970 session would take place, but without John Lennon present.)

The group worked on vocal overdubs for the song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” at this session. In less than a month, the group would assemble at Apple Studios for a tumultuous meeting, and on Sept. 20, a discussion about the future of the group took a dark turn when Lennon allegedly declared, “I want a divorce” and “The group’s over, I’m leaving.” The Beatles would never come together again.


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