On this day in history : 30th January 1969 – The Beatles play an impromptu concert on the rooftop of Apple Records in London…. It is to be their last public performance….
It was a bitterly cold Thursday lunchtime, many were on their lunch break when they were surprised by the loud music coming from the rooftop of No.3 Savile Row – the home of Apple Records…. At first there was some confusion – but then as word spread crowds gathered in the street, five storeys below….and people climbed out on to the rooftops of neighbouring buildings….
The Beatles had been recording their album ‘Let it Be’ in the basement studio at Apple Records and had been planning a live performance since earlier in the month….but the idea of performing on the roof had only come about a couple of days before….
George, Ringo, John and Paul – accompanied by a young Billy Preston on keyboards – treated their delighted audience to a 42 minute set which included songs such as “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Get Back”…. It was their first ‘gig’ since they had stopped touring in 1965 – and it was to be their last, as by September 1969 the Beatles had unofficially disbanded….
Unfortunately, not everybody was happy about the unexpected entertainment…. The Metropolitan police were concerned about safety, traffic issues and noise disturbance…. Policeman Ken Wharfe later said that he had been ordered by his superiors to “turn that noise off”….
On arriving at Apple Records the police were initially refused entry into the building by staff – but when threatened with arrest they had to back down…. As the police reached the rooftop the Beatles realised their concert was about to be brought to an end – but managed to carry on for several more minutes. Paul McCartney changed the lyrics to “Get Back” to something more fitting for the situation….
“You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested”….
John Lennon finished up by saying…. “I’d like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition”….