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The Beatles' Rooftop Concert

In January, 1969, the Beatles were working on a documentary that would show them engaged in song writing, recording and other activities related to the album Let It Be. It had been almost three years since the Beatles had played a live concert and it was decided that a live concert would be a grand ending for the film. But where to have it?

A lot of suggestions were tossed around by the boys, including flying to Africa to perform, renting a cruise ship for the concert or performing in an insane asylum. Finally, Ringo and the filmís director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, went up to the roof of the Apple Building to investigate the possibilities there. The Apple building, at 3 Saville Row, is in the middle of a bustling business district in London. That didnít stop the boys or the crew who assembled for the rooftop concert in the middle of a Thursday on January 30.

The public was not notified in advance that the concert would take place. There were no press releases sent out, there were no announcements made to radio stations. The Beatles, in the middle of serious in-fighting that ultimately ended in the demise of the band, came together for one final live concert. As the boys played, hundreds of people ran down the streets to catch a glimpse of the Beatles. People leaned out windows, hung out of cars, climbed onto rooftops and gathered along the sidewalks to see the band playing a spontaneous live concert. Eventually the crowds began to impede traffic and the concert was ended by police after 42 minutes.

The film, eventually called Let It Be, ended up a chronicle of both the music being made and of the breakup of the group. It won an Oscar in 1970 for Best Music, Original Song Score. That same year it won a Grammy for Best Original Score.

The filmed portion of the concert is available on YouTube in three parts. Itís physically impossible to listen to the second part without getting chills. Itís really that good.







Forty years later, the Let It Be is still a favorite, with it's intimate look at the problems between the boys and the spectacular music that they created during this tumultuous time. The Beatles may be a memory, but they left plenty of music and wisdom behind.

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