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The Beatles rooftop concert

On 30 January 1969, the Beatles performed an impromptu concert from the rooftop of their Apple Corps headquarters at 3 Savile Row, in central London's office and fashion district. Joined by guest keyboardist Billy Preston, the band played a 42-minute set before the Metropolitan Police arrived and ordered them to reduce the volume. It was the final public performance of their career. They performed nine takes of five new songs as crowds of onlookers, many on lunch breaks, congregated in the streets and on the rooftops of nearby buildings to listen. The concert ended with "Get Back", and John Lennon joking, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we've passed the audition."

The entire performance was filmed and recorded, and footage was used in the 1970 documentary film Let It Be and the 2021 documentary series The Beatles: Get Back. The first performance of "I've Got a Feeling" and single takes of "One After 909" and "Dig a Pony" were also featured on the accompanying album. On 28 January 2022, the audio of the full rooftop performance was released to streaming services under the title Get Back – The Rooftop Performance.

Performance[]

Until the last minute, according to Lindsay-Hogg, the Beatles were still undecided about performing the concert. He recalled that they had discussed it and then gone silent, until "John said in the silence, 'Fuck it – let's go do it.'"

The four Beatles and Preston arrived on the roof at around 12:30pm. When they started playing, there was confusion nearby among members of the public, many of whom were on their lunch break. As the news of the event spread, crowds began to congregate in the streets and on the flat rooftops of nearby buildings. While most responded positively to the concert, the Metropolitan Police grew concerned about noise and traffic issues, having received complaints from local businesses. The film cameras captured police officers arriving at Apple to stop the performance. Apple employees initially kept the officers in reception and refused to let them up to the roof, but reconsidered when threatened with arrest.

According to Johns, the band fully expected to be interrupted by the police, since there was a police station not far along Savile Row. The authorities' intervention satisfied a suggestion made by McCartney earlier in January, that the Beatles should perform their concert "in a place we're not allowed to do it ... like we should trespass, go in, set up and then get moved ... Getting forcibly ejected, still trying to play your numbers, and the police lifting you."

The officers ascended to the roof just as the Beatles began the second take of "Don't Let Me Down". During the next number – the final version of "Get Back" – McCartney improvised the lyrics to reflect the situation: "You've been playing on the roofs again, and that's no good, 'cause you know your Mummy doesn't like that ... she gets angry ... she's gonna have you arrested!" Acting on the police officers' instructions, Evans turned off Lennon and Harrison's guitar amplifiers mid-song, only for Harrison to turn his amplifier back on in defiance. Evans then turned Lennon's back on as the band continued to play.

The concert came to an end with the conclusion of "Get Back". McCartney said "Thanks Mo", in response to applause and cheers from Maureen Starkey, Starr's wife. It was raining and Starr played wearing his wife's red raincoat. Lennon said: "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we've passed the audition."

Set list[]

TheBeatlesGetBackTheRooftopPerformance

The rooftop concert consisted of nine complete takes of five Beatles songs: three takes of "Get Back"; two each of "Don't Let Me Down" and "I've Got a Feeling"; and one take each of "One After 909" and "Dig a Pony". On 28 January 2022, the audio of the full rooftop performance was released in Dolby Atmos to streaming services as Get Back – The Rooftop Performance. The album version reproduced the set list in its performance order. As seen in the 2021 Disney+ documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, a short take of "Get Back" was also played and filmed before takes one and two, as part of the preliminary sound check. The concert also includes a short take of the British national anthem "God Save the Queen". Track times are taken from the streaming version released in 2022.

All tracks are written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, except where noted:

  1. "Get Back" (Take 1) – 4:43
  2. "Get Back" (Take 2) – 3:24
  3. "Don't Let Me Down" (Take 1) – 3:22
  4. "I've Got a Feeling" (Take 1) – 4:44
  5. "One After 909" – 3:09
  6. "Dig a Pony" – 5:52
  7. "God Save the Queen" (Traditional, arranged by Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starkey) – 0:26
  8. "I've Got a Feeling" (Take 2) – 5:35
  9. "Don't Let Me Down" (Take 2) – 3:30
  10. "Get Back" (Take 3) – 3:47

The first performance of "I've Got a Feeling" and the recordings of "One After 909" and "Dig a Pony" were later used for the album Let It Be. In 1996, the third live performance of "Get Back", which was the last song of the Beatles' final live performance, was included on Anthology 3. An edit of the two takes of "Don't Let Me Down" was included on Let It Be... Naked,  as was a composite of the two takes of "I've Got a Feeling". There were also brief jams of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (after the first "Get Back") and "God Save the Queen" (after "Dig a Pony") while Parsons changed tapes. Lennon sang lines from "Danny Boy" and "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" between some of the songs.

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