The Story of the Beatles Rooftop Concert
On January 30th, 1969, the Beatles played a legendary concert that turned out to be their final public live performance. The band set up on the roof of the Apple Corps headquarters in London and proceeded to play their hearts out while a crowd gathered in the streets.
According to Ringo Starr, the Beatles getting up on the rooftop was a pretty spontaneous occurrence. Apparently they wanted to play a live show, but they didn’t feel like bringing all their gear somewhere, so they just went up on the roof of their office building. What followed was a performance of five songs in nine takes, the whole thing captured on film and recorded, part of which was used in their Let It Be documentary. This video shows them playing one take of five different songs: “Get Back”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I’ve Got A Feeling”, “One After 909”, and “Get Back” again. This version of “I’ve Got A Feeling” is really great.
There were also camera crews on the streets asking pedestrians what they thought about the music. Most of them were approving, but the video does show a group of older businessmen who weren’t having any of it, saying that The Beatles were “disrupting the business of everybody in the area.” While that is true, those people didn’t know what they were missing. For them, it was just a random public event, an obstacle in the middle of their daily routine, but I’d bet anybody watching this today would do anything to have been there.
By the end, the crowd in the street has grown very large, and people are climbing onto nearby rooftops to get a view of the Beatles. Eventually, though, the cops make their way into the building and go to the rooftop, presumably to shut the whole thing down. It makes sense because traffic in the street was clearly very obstructed, and this was the middle of London, but it’s a real shame they aren’t still playing up there right now.
I wonder if the people on the streets during this performance knew that they were witnessing the final public performance of the Beatles, who are still-today widely regarded as one of the best rock bands of all time.
Enjoy the full version Beatles Rooftop concert below.