Exclusive Book Excerpt: Michael Lindsay-Hogg on Finding an Ending for 'Let It Be'

Read part three of the acclaimed director's account of the making of the band's last film

michael lindsay hogg luck and circumstance
Courtesy Michael Lindsay-Hogg/Random House
'Luck and Circumstance' by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
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'Luck and Circumstance,' the memoir by acclaimed director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, was published by Alfred A. Knopf on September 27th. In it are behind-the-scenes glimpses of Old Hollywood and Swinging Sixties London, stories from the golden age of BBC British drama and an intimate look at the pre-dawn of rock video, a genre that Lindsay-Hogg pioneered if not outright created.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed videos with The Rolling Stones for fifteen years, starting with 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' and also their fabled 'Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.' He also directed videos for The Beatles, including 'Revolution' and 'Hey Jude,' as well as their last film, the documentary 'Let It Be.'

Here is the third part of an exclusive excerpt from 'Luck and Circumstance' about coming up with an ending for the documentary. Read part one, about tension in the group at the outset of filming, here. Read part two, about the early days of  'Let It Be,' here.

A few days of deep desultoriness followed but with phone calls and meetings between the three or four of them.

George said he'd come back if any plans for a TV special would be abandoned and that we'd leave Twickenham and go to their basement studio at Apple to continue work on the songs.

With this demand and for whatever other reasons, the negative outweighing the positives, that's what happened.

The studio had been built by Magic Alex, an inventor who'd ingratiated himself with The Beatles. The day before they were to arrive, I went into the studio with Glyn Johns, who was the engineer of the album, working with their longtime producer George Martin, and we found no one had invented any plugs for the electrics to go into. Overnight this was fixed.

And so we began again, with two cameras filming rehearsals: "The Long and Winding Road," "Get Back," versions one, two, or twelve, improvisations, conversations, songs which were from when they were teenagers listening to the radio, songs from Liverpool pubs. The mood did lighten, somewhat, at Apple, helped by the presence of Billy Preston, who joined in to play organ on the sessions.

But what would become of all of this, I wondered. I was learning from experience (the RSRNRC was unspooling because the Rolling Stones thought that on the day The Who were more dynamic) that if a project seemed to be losing momentum, it might be shelved, put in a closet, unseen; these great musicians and artists being subject to whim and lack of attention, or being seduced by the next thing which captured their imagination. I dreaded the idea that many of the fascinating things we'd filmed would never be seen and I knew we needed a conclusion to what had now become a documentary film.

After our first week at Apple, on a Saturday, we had lunch at the conference table. Nice girls who did the cooking would bring in a first course, to be followed by roast chicken, vegetables, and potatoes, with red and rosé wine, and something macrobiotic for John and Yoko.

"We need to have an ending for all this footage, somewhere we're going. A conclusion," I said.

Yoko piped up.

"Are conclusions important?"

I'd run into my first trip wire.

From the book, 'Luck and Circumstance' by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Copyright (c) 2011 Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.

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