30 January 1969
The Beatles made their last ever live appearance together on 30 January 1969, putting on a free lunchtime concert on a hastily constructed wooden stage on the (very windy) roof of their Apple Corps HQ at 30 Savile Row, in London.
Surrounded by a film crew with many cameras (a total of 10 cameras were used to shoot the show) and members of the media, the famous foursome – joined by guest member Billy Preston – had hardly sent the first amplified bars echoing down the street before the neighbours began to complain and called the police to stop the noise.
At the woollen merchants next door to Apple, director Stanley Davis said quite bluntly: ” I want this noise stopped. You can’t use a telephone, dictate a letter or have your window open.”
He said: ” I am furious. We were trying to talk to our customers but couldn’t hear them. I telephoned the police but apparently they at powerless to do anything.”
Nobody from Apple had bothered to get permission for a public performance and when complaints about loud music from local residents and businesses began pouring into the police station opposite the Apple building, the police were legally obliged to take action.
Four policemen did eventually arrive and two of them (constables Ray Dagg and Ray Shayler) went inside.
They negotiated with Apple representatives and eventually gave them ten minutes notice to end – so the 42-minute session continued, drawing crowds to the street and onto adjoining rooftops as work ground to a standstill in nearby offices and shops.
The Beatles played One After 909, two complete versions each of Don’t Let Me Down, Dig a Pony and I’ve Got a Feeling, and three versions of Get Back along with various incomplete takes, including a line from the Irish folk song Danny Boy.
In addition to these songs, the band tossed off snippets of several songs including a few bars of I Want You (later released on Abbey Road), and lines from the Irving Berlin chestnut A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody. They also jammed on an instrumental version of God Save the Queen (the British national anthem not the future Sex Pistols song!) while engineer Alan Parsons changed tape reels.
As the band eventually shuffled off the roof, John Lennon lunged at the (still-live) microphone and said: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
An Apple spokesman said later that The Beatles played “four or five numbers for a film they are making.”
The event was filmed and incorporated into the Let It Be movie released in 1970.