To borrow from another popular group of the day, The Doors, “this is the end.” Or almost for the 1960s and for the decade’s musical kings, The Beatles.
If you happened to be in London this day in 1969, around Seville Row, and looked up, you would have seen the Fab Four playing a 40-minute concert up on the roof of their non-descript five-storey Apple Records office. It was the first time they’d played together in public for over two years and would turn out to be their last public performance. They were still doing well commercially, with the “White Album” selling huge quantities but critics were starting to question their creativity and direction and the band had gotten to the point they could barely stand each other. They had an idea to use the song “Get Back” as a nucleus for a straight-ahead, live rock album but their time together working on that was according to George Harrison “the low of all-time” and he actually quit the band for several days before being cajoled back with the help of Billy Preston (who is the only non-Beatle to ever get credited as a co-performer on one of their songs, “Get Back.”) Plans to perform the show on a cruise ship or at the Egyptian pyramids fell through, resulting in them donning fur coats and playing the set in 45-degree windy weather on their roof.
Fans looking for the building will be disappointed to find that Apple Records headquarters are now an Abercrombie and Fitch store. They won’t be disappointed to find that “Don’t Let Me Down”, a popular new song they performed in the set that wasn’t on Let It Be (unlike “Get Back”) is now readily available online and on Beatles compilation albums. Nor will they be displeased there’s a documentary on the band’s final days, called Get Back, due out this year.