Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 30, 1969

The Beatles perform on the rooftop of the Apple offices at Savile Row, London. The Beatles played tracks including "Don't Let Me Down", "I've Got a Feeling", "Dig A Pony" and "Get Back". The police arrived to halt the proceedings, but the band continued to play. Despite their protest, no arrests were made, and the performance continued for 42 minutes.

Ringo said "It was a memorable day for me - we were doin' what we did best - making music. But I am still disappointed the policemen didn't drag me off me drums!".

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 29, 1969

The Beatles are still working on the Get Back/Let It Be sessions. They also finally decide to perform a concert the following day on the roof of their Apple headquarters.

They spent much of the day working on versions of Two Of Us, The Long And Winding Road and Let It Be, plus others which didn't make it to the Let It Be album.

The Beatles tackled a number of George Harrison's songs, perhaps hoping that one would be suitable for inclusion in the film. The album version of For You Blue had been taped on 25 January, but three more takes were performed on this day. Also played were Something, All Things Must Pass, Let It Down and Old Brown Shoe, although none sounded like polished versions ready for release.

The final part of the session was mostly devoted to cover versions. Among them was Buddy Holly's Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues, which was heavily edited and included on Anthology 3. The Beatles also played Besame Mucho, as seen in the Let It Be film.

The session ended with a return to Teddy Boy and Two Of Us. Paul McCartney aside, the group's enthusiasm for playing the songs was noticeably waning by this stage.

Source: Mark Lewisohn - The Complete Beatles Chronicles

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 28, 1969

The Beatles rehearsed most of the songs which would end up on the Let It Be album.

The first song to receive significant attention was I've Got A Feeling, one take of which featured a three-chord coda lasting a full 15 minutes, and others which had John Lennon on lead vocals.

The single version of Don't Let Me Down was recorded as well as seven versions of Get Back, the coda from one of which was used on the single.

George Harrison had introduced Old Brown Shoe during the previous day's session. It had further work on this day, and after one of the takes The Beatles and Preston began experimenting with a stylophone. This is The Beatles' only known use of the instrument popularised by Rolf Harris.

Something, made its debut during this session. Five versions were taped of the song, which still lacked some lyrics and final chords, and Harrison can be heard on the tapes asking for help finishing it off. "Just say what comes into your head each time," Lennon tells him. "'Attracts me like a cauliflower'. Until you get the word."

Although Lennon and Paul McCartney seemed willing to help Harrison with the song, there is less enthusiasm for All Things Must Pass, which had last been played on 8 January. The Beatles performed it one more time the following day, before giving up on it completely.John Lennon introduced a new song, I Want You (She's So Heavy), which would eventually be recorded for Abbey Road. The first of four versions from this day was instrumental, and featured the main guitar riffs that made it to the final recording, although it was little more than a jam at this stage.

Source: Mark Lewisohn - The Complete Beatles Chronicle

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 27, 1969

The sessions today continued with Get Back/Let It Be. Although the group still hadn't decided whether to perform live at the end of the sessions, they knew a resolution was needed for the project as Ringo Starr was due to start filming The Magic Christian in early February 1969. The Beatles recorded a total of 32 takes of Get Back on this day, experimenting with different tempos and styles.

One of John Lennon's ad-libs – "Sweet Loretta Fart, she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan" – was included in the warm-up to the song on the Let It Be album.

Let It Be, The Long And Winding Road, Don't Let Me Down and I've Got A Feeling were all performed numerous times. Apart from Don't Let Me Down, they were included on the Let It Be album, although not recordings made on this day. All the arrangements were mostly in place, although some takes involved slight lyrical or musical variations.

Oh! Darling was also performed four times, one of which lasted nearly seven minutes and featured Lennon and Paul McCartney bantering in high spirits. An edited version of this take was included on Anthology 3, complete with Lennon's announcement that Yoko Ono's divorce had been finalised.

One new song to be introduced on this day was George Harrison's Old Brown Shoe, which would become the b-side to The Ballad Of John And Yoko later in 1969. The first version on this day featured just vocals and piano, but a second saw the rest of the band join in. Work on Old Brown Shoe continued the following day, although the released version was recorded at Abbey Road.

Other original songs included McCartney singing a version of Strawberry Fields Forever, and more performances of I Told You Before, a Beatles jam first played the previous day, featuring Billy Preston to the fore.

Source: Mark Lewisohn - The Complete Beatles Chronicles

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 26, 1969

The Get Back/Let It Be sessions continued on this day with the Beatles focus mainly on two songs: Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road.

Today was Sunday and Linda McCartney and her daughter Heather came to the recording studio.

George Harrison and Ringo Starr arrived, and the session began with Harrison performing some of his own songs alone on an acoustic guitar: Isn't It A Pity, Let It Down and the unreleased Window, Window.

Billy Preston was also back in the studio, helping with the arrangement. For example, Let It Be, in particular, benefited from Preston's organ playing, and by the end of the day they almost had a version suitable for release.

The session ended with The Long And Winding Road, with Paul McCartney on piano and John Lennon playing bass guitar.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 25, 1969

The sale of John and Yoko's Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins is banned in Union County, New Jersey, and in the city of Cleveland, Ohio (due to the pictures of John and Yoko naked on the front and the back of the album cover). Police in Mountainside, New Jersey, confiscate 20,000 copies of the album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 24, 1969

The Get Back/Let It Be sessions included Get Back and Two Of Us, along with a number of other cover versions.

The Beatles settled on the delicate folk-rock arrangement for Two Of Us. One take was included on the 1996 collection Anthology 3, and an alternative one was chosen by Glyn Johns for one of the unreleased Get Back albums.

Another Anthology 3 song, Teddy Boy, was taken in part from this day's recordings. The version on the album was an edit of takes from January 24th & 28th, with the segment featuring John Lennon's barn-dance calls coming from this day. The song was also mixed by Glyn Johns for inclusion on Get Back, although it was eventually re-recorded by Paul McCartney for his 1970 debut album McCartney.

Another song attempted on this day was Every Night and Hot As Sun. He also played three versions of There You Are, Eddie, which was never released by him nor The Beatles; the song was written in December the previous year for Beatles biographer Hunter Davies, while McCartney was staying at his home in Portugal.

Source: The Beatles Complete Chronicles/Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 23, 1969

The Beatles (with Billy Preston) in the recording studio (Apple Studios, London). They record ten takes of Get Back. The tape operator for this session is Alan Parsons.

Billy Preston improved the shape of the song - but John Lennon was yet to develop his guitar solo and the galloping rhythm of the final version was not yet in place. And....Paul McCartney decided that Get Back would be complete with just two verses.

One of the takes was chosen by Glyn Johns for the first iteration of the Get Back album, which was rejected for release by The Beatles. This album was eventually circulated as Kum Back, one of the first Beatles bootleg collections.

Although work on Get Back dominated the day, The Beatles also spent some time on Oh! Darling, which was eventually held over for Abbey Road. Ringo Starr also played a piano version of Octopus's Garden, which was later developed further than the three-chord arrangement he had at this time.

Performances of Please Please Me and Help! both lasted less than a minute. Please Please Me was given a new, mostly atonal, melody, and Help! was performed with a slow swing rhythm.

No more successful was a version of Eddie Cochran's Twenty Flight Rock, one of the songs with which McCartney impressed Lennon by performing on the day they first met, 6 July 1957. Unfortunately, 12 years later McCartney was unable to remember all the lyrics, although The Beatles nonetheless managed a fairly spirited performance.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 22, 1969

Billy Preston had been invited to Apple by George Harrison. Preston had first met The Beatles in Hamburg in the early 1960s, and was in London playing with Ray Charles.

His presence improved the mood for the day. He played piano and keyboards which helped flesh out the sound considerably.

Three songs on this day - Don't Let Me Down, I've Got A Feeling and Dig A Pony were included on 1996's Anthology 3.

This version of I've Got A Feeling, plus different ones of Dig A Pony and Don't Let Me Down, were selected for Glyn Johns' first Get Back album, which was rejected for release by The Beatles. Also included were Rocker, a Beatles jam in the style of Chuck Berry, and a cover version of The Drifters' Save The Last Dance For Me.

The only other notable attempt at a cover version from this day was A Taste Of Honey, first recorded by The Beatles in early 1963 for the Please Please Me album. On this day, however, the performance broke down almost before it even got going.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicles - Mark Lewisohn


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 21, 1969

The Beatles resumed work the Get Back/Let It Be sessions with the film crew present. This was the first formal day of work following George Harrison's temporary departure from the group, and saw them relocate from Twickenham Film Studios to the group's own Apple Studios, in the basement of their headquarters in Savile Row, London.

Harrison had agreed to rejoin The Beatles on January 15th, though not without certain conditions being met. He insisted that they work at Apple Studios, and made it clear that he would leave for good unless the notion of a live show before an audience was abandoned. He did, however, agree to be filmed making an album, and for a potential live performance in some form.

The Beatles had met the day before at Apple Studios to test the equipment installed by Alexis 'Magic Alex' Mardas. It was found to be unsatisfactory, and new kit was borrowed from EMI. This day's session didn't start until the afternoon, perhaps due to installation issues.

The Beatles had barely moved on following their week off. They still spent much time working on Dig A Pony, I've Got A Feeling and Don't Let Me Down, but their playing was often sloppy and aimless.

One of the takes of Dig A Pony was introduced by Lennon as "I Dig A Pigmy by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids. Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats." This was later used as the opening for the Let It Be, immediately before Two Of Us.

Paul McCartney brought a new song, Every Night, to the session. This was performed again on 24 January, but was eventually held over until his debut solo album McCartney. A song by Harrison, titled Window, Window, was introduced on this day and took shape on 24, 25 and 26 January. However, despite recording a solo demo over a year later, it was never released in his lifetime.

John Lennon played a new song idea, All I Want Is You, which was unrelated to Dig A Pony. He also revived Madman, a song previously played on 14 January, but it, too, was taken no further.

The only song from this day to have been officially released was a version of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, which appeared on 1996's Anthology 3 (the date was incorrectly listed as 22 January in the album booklet), featuring Lennon on Fender Rhodes electric piano.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle - Mark Lewisohn