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50 Years Ago: The Beatles Rocked The Apple Rooftop

50 years ago, The Beatles made history playing on top of the Apple Studios, becoming the most famous rooftop concert of all time.

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Beatles Apple Rooftop Get Back web optimised 1000
Photo © Apple Corps Ltd

Recorded as the B-side of ‘Get Back’ on 28 January 1969, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ was first heard outside of the recording studio two days later, on 30 January, when The Beatles played it on the roof of the Apple Studio in Savile Row, London.. Written by John Lennon as an expression of his love for Yoko Ono, the song is heartfelt and passionate. As John told Rolling Stone magazine in 1970, “When it gets down to it, when you’re drowning, you don’t say, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream.”

Joining The Beatles at Apple Studios for both sides of the single was keyboard player Billy Preston, who gives the track such a beautiful, gentle feel, contrasting brilliantly with the intensity of John’s lead vocal. And John, too, juxtaposes elements of softness with his screaming.

Billy was credited on the Apple single and it charted in America, but airplay of ‘Get Back’ predominated and propelled the A-side to No.1 on the charts for five weeks. By comparison, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ got much less exposure. It’s another of those B-side gems that, with the passing of time, people have come to appreciate more.

During filming on Apple rooftop, two days after the recording of the track, the band played ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ right after doing two versions of ‘Get Back’, and it led straight into ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’. Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed The Beatles’ shoot, and both he and Paul McCartney met regularly at the tail end of 1968, while Hogg was directing The Rolling StonesRock And Roll Circus, to discuss the filming of The Beatles’ session in January. By the time that fateful Thursday came around, the penultimate day of January would be the last time The Beatles ever played together in front of any kind of audience.

On this video it is not the version of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ heard on the single but the version from the Let It Be… Naked album – a composite of both versions that were performed on the most famous rooftop concert of all time.

The Apple rooftop performance of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ can be found on the Beatles’ 1s DVD/Blu-ray, which can be bought here.

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Follow the This Is The Beatles playlist for more essential Beatles.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Purple Cream

    January 31, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Love it have a listen to our version of The Beatles Classic Something which we licensed from Harris Songs now on itunes by Purple Cream thanks Vincent

  2. Purple Cream

    January 31, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Purple Cream performs Something by The Beatles https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/purple-cream/id838308621 licensed through Harris Songs on itunes

  3. Kevin rutter

    January 31, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    Still awesome after all the years

  4. Reginaldo Rodrigues

    February 1, 2016 at 1:22 am

    A melhor banda de todos os temmpos!

  5. Licia Maria Salgado

    February 1, 2016 at 1:37 am

    Gostaria de fazer parte on line da melhor banda de todos os tempos. Cresci c eles, com sua música.

  6. sebastiao lucena cartaxo

    February 1, 2016 at 2:58 am

    O melhor de todos os tempos. Não haverá mais um outro Beatles.

  7. Marcus Burrows

    February 1, 2016 at 3:30 am

    I was eight and off school with some bug or another. My father had to take me to his work because my mother was still in college. I looked out of the office window and asked my father what was going on out there on the roof of a nearby building. His reply was something along the lines if ‘ scruffy yobs should get a job..’ It was some years before I found out what I had been watching. The appearance of the police was quite exciting for such a young witness!

    • Will

      February 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Don’t believe you pal. Must think we were born yesterday.

    • Donna

      February 2, 2016 at 1:31 am

      Wish I was you.

  8. saint-lager

    February 1, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Que de souvenirs! I love the BEATLES!!!!

  9. Marcelo Jenisch

    February 1, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    The Beatles! Inesquecível, a melhor banda de todos os tempos.

  10. Joe Acosta

    February 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Miss them years when thinks we’re cool

  11. Robert Hall

    February 1, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    I am looking for the whole dvd or whatever of “LET IT BE”AND THE DVD AND CD OF NUMBERS1

  12. Joel

    February 1, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I was born in ’64 had not listened to the Beatles until I was 10 years during revival over the radio. From that the on, I never stop loving their music.

  13. Mos61

    February 2, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Wow. You dont see many concert with the Beatles with their hair long. Love their music.

  14. Donna

    February 2, 2016 at 1:31 am

    Wish I had been you!!!

  15. pedro perez

    February 2, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Jamás habrá otra banda como The Beatles, Calidad my friend.

  16. Eddie

    February 2, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Hi. The Beatles on the Roof of Apple Studio’s was in Manchester Sq. Not Harley St.

  17. Kevin_Webb

    January 31, 2017 at 1:37 am

    It was on the roof of Apple Corps building which was at 3 Savile Row

  18. Rick Dloss

    July 3, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Don’t Let Me Down features Billy Preston keyboards very prominently. They should have given him more than that 1 second of video time you saw early in the recording.

  19. hector

    January 31, 2019 at 12:17 am

    la mejor musica de todos los tiempos…

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