50 years ago, one of the most famous gigs of all time took place.

January 30, 2019
The Beatles

Press Association

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It was 50 years ago today (January 30th, 1969) that the Beatles performed for the last time in public, on the roof of their Apple headquarters building in London. For the better part of that January, the group had been filming their rehearsals for a planned comeback concert, before band politics forced them to abort the plan and concentrate on recording a new album, tentatively titled Get Back.

The film crew continued filming the recording sessions for what eventually became the Let It Be album and movie, and on January 30th, the Beatles finally gave in to director Michael Lindsay-Hogg's request for a live concert finale for the film. Rather than the various exotic locations that had been tossed around for the group's first public appearance in nearly two-and-a-half years, such as a cruise ship, a mental asylum, or a Roman amphitheater, the group had their equipment set up on top of their business offices at 3 Saville Row for a brief lunchtime set -- similar to the ones they used to do years earlier in Liverpool's Cavern Club.

The Beatles and keyboardist Billy Preston, who were decked out in winter coats, played for about 42 minutes for a handful of fans, their wives, office workers and their personal staff. They performed a total of nine full songs: three versions of "Get Back," two versions of "Don't Let Me Down," two versions of "I've Got A Feeling," and one each of "Dig A Pony," and "One After 909" -- which was one of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's earliest compositions, dating back to the 1950's.

Ken Mansfield, the former U.S. manager of Apple Records, has just published his latest memoir on his time with working with the Beatles, titled The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert. Mansfield was among the handful of insiders present at the rooftop concert that day.

In between songs, while the film crew was busy setting up, the Beatles briefly ran through a few standards, including a few bars of "Danny Boy," "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody," and "God Save The Queen."

George Harrison had made it clear prior to the impromptu concert that none of his songs would be played on the roof. Toward the end of the Beatles' set, the police were called and politely demanded that the group quit disturbing the peace, as dozens of office workers had begun crowding around in the streets near the Beatles' headquarters to hear the band play.

At the end of the final performance of "Get Back," Lennon uttered the immortal line, "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition." It was the last time that the Beatles would ever perform in public.

Although never released in its entirety, most of the Beatles' "Rooftop Concert" has been widely bootlegged over the years. The Beatles themselves have also issued a lot of the rooftop concert over various releases. 1970's Let It Be album featured edited live performances of "Dig A Pony," "I've Got A Feeling," and "One After 909." The group's final performance of "Get Back" was included on 1996's The Beatles Anthology 3 album, and the 2003 Let It Be. . . Naked collection included new composite takes from different versions of "Don't Let Me Down," and "I've Got A Feeling." In one form or another, at least one version of all the songs from the group's final performance has been officially released.

CHECK IT OUT: The Beatles on January 30th, 1969 performing "Don't Let Me Down" live on the Apple rooftop:

CHECK IT OUT: The Beatles on January 30th, 1969 performing "Get Back" live on the Apple rooftop:

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