51 years ago today the world’s greatest band took the rooftops of their Apple Corps headquarters and played what would be the last Beatles concert together.
The gig was the culmination of a fraught relationship while working on the groups final album, “Let It Be”, itself an attempt to shake recent difficulties and get back to the core of what brought these four together in the first place, the music.
The rooftop gig and the album that came from those efforts marks the perfect swansong to the Beatles career, but so much of that iconic moment could have been wildly different.
It turns out they never originally intended a rooftop performance, the bandmates had almost too many ideas of where to play.
Ranging from the reasonable to the outrageous, from London venues to the Sahara, honestly.
Some locations included Giza Pyramids, a cruise ship, and location scouts were sent to a 2,000 year old Roman amphitheatre in Tunisia.
Ultimately, the decision to play on the rooftops might have been down to pragmatism and even laziness, the idea being contested with some claiming Lennon, or Ringo, or documentary film director Michale Lindsay-Hogg had the bright idea.
The scaffolds were barely set up hours in advance and the group apparently had cold feet Harrison reluctant, Ringo apathetic until Lennon just said “Oh, f*** it, let’s do it”.
And if you think Lennon and Ringo look flash in the video below, you can thank their partners for that.
Being so cold Lennon took Yoko’s fur coat, while Ringo took his partners red raincoat to protect himself from the harsh weather. While Harrison apparently warmed his fingers with cigarettes.
But that’s not all that had to be wrapped up to shield from the weather, the microphones were so sensitive to the weather they needed to be wrapped in women’s pantyhose!
And if you are having trouble remembering all the lyrics you wouldn’t be alone as Lennon reportedly needed cue cards to be reminded of his own lyrics. Which wasn’t all too uncommon for the singer-songwriter.
In fact even with the cards he finds himself making up lyrics in the video above at one point singing something that might be, “And only reese we got the blootchy-koo”.
The police ultimately were compelled to end the show, after allowing it to go on for 42 minutes but many fans have wondered what more may have been played had they not been forced to intervene.
Investigating the videos shows many unused instruments that could offer clues to some of the songs that might have been.
Alas, we can never know, but it will always remain an iconic moment from the greatest band of all time.