Beatles’ Famous Rooftop Concert: 15 Things You Didn’t Know
It’s hard to know for certain. Some fans believe Harrison asked that his songs not be played on the roof that day. Others argue that these quieter numbers would have been impossible to record in the windy and uncontrolled setting. It also seems unlikely that the Beatles would have repeated so many songs if they also intended to perform others. But why the extra instruments? Perhaps the band’s roadies received vague instructions to bring their equipment up to the roof, and simply grabbed everything they could find. To date, no set list has ever been found.
Billy Preston received the only official Beatles co-credit.
Friends with the Beatles since touring Europe with Little Richard in 1962, Billy Preston is the MVP of the entire Get Back/Let It Be project. Band relations had deteriorated so badly that Harrison actually walked out on the sessions, vowing to quit the group all together. To clear his head, he attended a Ray Charles concert, where Preston happened to be playing organ. Harrison invited him back to the studio to jam with the rest of the Beatles. His warm nature soothed tensions and his keyboard chops added a dose of excitement to the formerly dreary proceedings.
Preston’s sparking musical contribution on Let It Be speaks for itself. Lennon even lobbied to make Preston a full member of the band — an actual fifth Beatle. “It’s bad enough with four!” McCartney supposedly replied. Even so, his importance was recognized on the single release of “Get Back,” which is credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston.” Barring unauthorized reissues, it was the first time that the Beatles credited anyone on their records in this way.
Preston would go on to record with the Beatles on Abbey Road that summer, laying down keyboard parts on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Something.”
The site of the rooftop concert is now a children’s Abercrombie & Fitch.
The Beatles purchased 3 Savile Row in 1968 as the headquarters for Apple Corps. They constructed a studio in the basement, which they used to record the second half of their Get Back/Let It Be sessions. Harry Nilsson, Badfinger, Marc Bolan and others also recorded there before Apple sold the building in 1976. It changed hands a number of times over the years until it was purchased by Abercrombie & Fitch in 2012. A children’s clothing store currently resides in the building’s ground floor — throwing London tailors, historians and Beatle fans into an uproar.
It’s the last sound you hear on the Beatles’ final release.
Although Abbey Road was the final album to be recorded by the four Beatles, Let It Be was the last to be issued in May 1970, weeks after the group’s split made headlines around the world. The black-trimmed cover gave it funereal quality, and fans anxiously studied to the parting message from the foursome that defined the Sixties.
As “Get Back,” the last track, draws to a close, the sound of John Lennon’s voice can be heard: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” It was a self-effacing remark made at the end of the rooftop show, poking fun at the many auditions the band failed over the years. It was also a humble nod to the band’s unprecedented success — and, inadvertently, the perfect Beatles epitaph.