Friday 28 November 2014

45 years today since The Beatles played their last live gig

Published 30/01/2014 | 10:21

The Beatles' last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London on January 30 1969
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Recording artists Paul McCartney (L) and Ringo Starr perform onstage during "The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles" at the Los Angeles Convention Center on January 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

On January 30 1969, the Fab Four – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – played live for one last time with an impromptu gig on the rooftop of the Apple offices in London

The afternoon of January 30, 1969, was when The Beatles surprised a central London office lunch crowd with an impromptu concert on the roof of their Savile Row Apple headquarters.

Before the outing was abruptly cut short by police who objected to the noise, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (with a little help from young keyboardist Billy Preston) had managed to thrill Londoners on adjacent rooftops and the streets below with a run-through of songs they had been rehearsing with a vague album in mind.

The rooftop 'concert' was the first live gig since the band stopped touring in 1965 and the concert was closed by Lennon quipping: "I hope we passed the audition." They had been recording Let It Be, their final album, in the basement studio, before staging their first live performance for nearly three years.

In a 42-minute set, the Beatles played nine takes of five songs, including included Don't Let Me Down, I've Got a Feeling and Get Back, before the Metropolitan Police Service forced them to stop. Footage from the performance was later used in the 1970 documentary film Let It Be. Policeman Ken Wharfe later said that he had been sent by his superiors to "turn that noise off".

Built in 1735, the Apple building was once bought by Lord Nelson for his mistress Lady Hamilton. In 2009, tribute group The Bootleg Beatles had planned to play a 40th anniversary show on top of the building but it had been cancelled by police and council officials due to safety fears.

This week, McCartney and Starr played together again at the Grammy awards.

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