Keeping the Blues Alive / Blues News  / Photo Of The Week: The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert

Photo of the Week is: The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert!

The Beatles’ rooftop concert which was the final public performance of the English rock band the Beatles. On 30 January 1969, the band, with keyboardist Billy Preston, surprised a central London office and fashion district with an impromptu concert from the roof of the headquarters of the band’s multimedia corporation Apple Corps at 3 Savile Row. In a 42-minute set, the Beatles played nine takes of five songs before the Metropolitan Police asked them to reduce the volume. Footage from the performance was used in the 1970 documentary film Let It Be.

When the Beatles first started playing, there was some confusion from spectators watching five stories below, many of whom were on their lunch break. As the news of the event spread, crowds of onlookers began to congregate in the streets and on the roofs of local buildings. While most responded positively to the concert, the Metropolitan Police grew concerned about noise and traffic issues. Apple employees initially refused to let police inside but reconsidered when threatened with arrest.

As police ascended to the roof, the Beatles realized that the concert would eventually be shut down but continued to play for several more minutes. Paul McCartney improvised the lyrics of his song “Get Back” to reflect 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!” The concert came to an end with the conclusion of “Get Back”, with Lennon saying, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.

“The Beatles’ rooftop concert marked the end of an era for many fans. The group did record one more album, Abbey Road — work on which started the following month — but by September 1969 the Beatles had unofficially disbanded. Several of the rooftop performances, particularly that of “Dig a Pony”, were regarded as showing the Beatles once again in top form. Fans believed the rooftop concert might have been a try-out for a return to live performances and touring. Photo by: Earl Hauss