On this day in 1969, The Beatles played their last ever live concert. Having not toured together for several years, nor played before a live audience since 1966, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr performed for the last time together 52 years ago today. However, this wasn’t your typical farewell concert. The group (joined by Billy Preston on keyboards), played an impromptu outdoor set on the roof of the Apple headquarters in London.
This concert experience came toward the end of recording what would be their final album Let It Be. The legendary 40+ minute set provided time for five songs to be played in perfection: “Get Back”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I’ve Got A Feeling”, “One After 909” and “Dig A Pony”. Some songs required multiple takes, though few noticed.
While no one was expecting it, this was the most appropriate way for the foursome to close the book. Without hyping up another room of screaming fans, they did what they did best—they played music. It didn’t matter who heard. In fact, the people who did hear the music were perplexed by what was even happening as they walked about their automatic existences, not knowing that these songs would be sung beyond generations to come. The most tangible memory of this fateful performance lives on through this footage, which is featured in Peter Jackson‘s The Beatles: Get Back documentary.
The Beatles – “Don’t Let Me Down” – 1/30/69
[Video: The Beatles]
The Beatles – Get Back (Rooftop Performance)