Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Beatles "Get Back"

Even before "The Beatles" double-LP was released, the seeds of the group's next project were planted.  (In fact, before the new LP was even finished and as early as the October 1968 Issue of The Beatles Monthly Book, it was printed "...the Beatles are keen on the idea of filming or videotaping a full-length television show.." as in "...the filming of actual live performances given in front of an invited audience..." to "...what might amount to a Beatles concert..." that would " made available for screening throughout the world.")

Amazingly, it was announced on November 7, 1968 that The Beatles would 'give three live concerts in London next month... a one-hour TV spectacular may be built around the shows.'

Yes, it would be Paul McCartney to whom the 'blame' can be pointed to for where The Beatles would go next, but all of them had been aware, especially after Ringo's departure, that they'd come to a point in their lives where the future was now very important to each one individually, more so probably now than the future of The Beatles.  

Yet, no matter what their personal uncertainties would ever be, whenever they worked together creating music, it brought them together, so it wasn't a far reach for Paul to figure that if they got back solely to making music together again and performing together again, everything would be all right.  

In his defense, no one really complained that much about the idea, perhaps believing somewhere down deep that everything would work out fine, or maybe sometimes no one had the guts to speak up about calling it a day.  As far back as "Help!" John first saw that predicament.  Back then he'd already known that he was on a runaway train he didn't know how to stop and get off.  He might have been the first to see it, but now all of them, with possibly the exception of Paul, could see the end might be near, but didn't have a clue as to how to get to that end, and start the new future.  

The Head of Variety and Light Entertainment, Bill Cotton Jr., jumped at the opportunity for being involved with a Beatles' show and wrote directly to Paul McCartney enquiring how the BBC could get together with The Beatles 'in the production of this programme'.  

Neil Aspinall replied on November 12, 1968 that plans were already in place and Apple Films Limited would produce the color video 'end product'.  Concerts were promised at London's Chalk Farm Roundhouse for three nights beginning around December 15th or the 16th.  

Letter from Bill Cotton Jr. to Paul McCartney (above) and Neil Aspinall's reply (below).

As we know, of course, the plans were put on hold the closer those dates got.  The idea of broadcasting live or via video-tape remained, however.  There was the idea for at least a one-hour show featuring at least eight songs, a bit perhaps like how the "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" videos were produced, which everyone agreed they enjoyed so much.

Many wild ideas began to emerge:  Playing in a disused Thames-side flour mill, on board a ship, on a stage in the middle of the Sahara desert.  According to Mark Lewisohn the most seriously considered suggestion (at least initially) was performing in a Roman amphitheatre in North Africa, beginning at dawn in an empty venue and finishing with the arena filled with people of all races, colors and creeds...again a bit like their earlier promotional videos, except on a much grander scale.

As ideas were tossed about, Ringo had to remind them that they would need to act soon because he was contracted to be involved in the shooting of another film, "The Magic Christian" starting in February and lasting through the springtime.   The producer of that film, Denis O' Dell, suggested they, at the very least, begin some kind of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios, which they would have access to until February 3rd when "The Magic Christian" would begin production.  While they were doing that, they could also be filmed on 16mm for perhaps a "Beatles At Work" Television documentary that could accompany any concert performance.  

One could argue that working so soon together after the rough waters they'd already experienced was not a good idea and only hastened a downhill spiral.  I believe, however, that there is a very strong possibility that had The Beatles not got together as soon as they did, we might have not seen it happen again at all.  They were so very clearly busy individually, they were finding it increasingly difficult to 'fit in' that which could be called a 'Beatles' project...and more importantly, they were losing interest in doing so.  Again, however, no one was stepping up to the plate, besides Ringo's departure earlier, in really addressing the situation.  Deep down, they were still tied to each other, and as time has shown, they always would be.  

2 January 1969 - Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who had worked with The Beatles previously on several of their promotional clips, along with the recent Rolling Stones "Rock and Roll Circus" would oversee the direction of capturing The Beatles on film for their "Beatles At Work" project. 

Glyn Johns became their sound engineer.  George Martin was initially going to work only with the multi-track tapes of the live broadcast, so his presence at this time was not too technically deep.  

Tony Richmond and Ethan Russell, who had also worked on "Rock and Roll Circus" were head cameraman and still photographer.  

It all started out well enough with, amazingly, John & Yoko and George being the first of the group to arrive.  (This seems to counter the idea they were the two least interested in the project.) Then Ringo arrives.   Strangely a member of the "Hare Krishna" movement is also present.  Finally Paul arrives.

The inhospitable environment of such a large stage as Twickenham becomes the subject of discussion by all at one time or another.  The studio is almost immediately recognized as not the best location to make music.

During one discussion between Paul, Glyn Johns and Michael Lindsay-Hogg any idea of playing overseas becomes out of the question when Paul lets it be known that Ringo has refused to participate in any traveling.   In fact, Ringo is under the impression that not very much time will be spent on rehearsals believing his work on "The Magic Christian" is to begin January 17th.  Producer Denis O'Dell informs him that has been pushed back to the 24th, and apparently in part to accommodate the need for more time for the "Beatles At Work" project.  Ringo doesn't believe that much time will be needed, maybe only two weeks, but Denis is not convinced.  

Listening to these tapes is like mining for gold, and much of it just as maddening.  When you read about what they were doing and you see the list of all of the many different songs The Beatles touched upon, it naturally makes one wish they'd been that fly on the wall listening in.  What they were prepared for musically, they do only touch upon as most everything they do during these sessions is incomplete, or off-the-cuff, or ruined for listening because the source tape cuts out or someone on staff begins speaking technical jargon for production purposes during the performance, or mainly by the fact no one is really trying to even make it a performance.  So much of it is simply noodling around on an instrument by one or more Beatles.

You have to really be into The Beatles to make it through all of the audio that remains from these rehearsals and sessions.  To say it can be tedious is an understatement.  I won't try to be too deep into the workings of each day, as you can get that information elsewhere, rather I'll take a step back and report on what seems the most interesting from each gathering.

For example, on this day it appears they touched upon 20 completely different tunes.  That doesn't mean 20 completed performances and most were not of a quality I'd want to waste anyone's time with listening to.  

For me, the most interesting parts of today were the moments John was interacting with George, and they did covers of music ranging from Bob Dylan to Buddy Holly.  John noodled about with his tune "Sun King" and had a crack at "Child of Nature", one of the few titles that wasn't officially tackled for the "White Album" (which is also known as "On The Road to Marrakesh") and George showed he'd already written "Let It Down", a song he wouldn't get to formerly record with The Beatles, but would share with the world on his first solo LP in late 1970.

3 January 1969 - On this day Paul and then Ringo were the first to arrive at Twickenham, and then George, apologizing for being late, but no one is concerned as John & Yoko hadn't arrived yet.  Early footage from this day of Paul on piano would make it to the "Let It Be" film in 1970.

Ringo eventually takes to the piano as well and previews some song ideas he had, one being called "Taking a Trip to Carolina" and the other known as "Picasso".  These are unfinished and probably remained so as neither was ever officially recorded by him.

When John & Yoko arrive, the four eventually begin to get warmed up as a band by playing classic favorites, like "Crackin' Up", "All Shook Up", "Your True Love", "Blue Suede Shoes", a bluesy "Three Cool Cats", "Lucille", "Bring It on Home To Me", "Hitch Hike", "Hippy Hippy Shake", "Short Fat Fanny", "Midnight Special", "Money (That's What I Want)", and then some old Beatles tunes, "You Can't Do That", which leads George into suggesting they use some of these in their upcoming performance.   They drift into The Beatles' own "Every Little Thing" and this also lends to the question of playing unpublished Beatles' tunes from way back in the beginning of the John and Paul writing team.  The most 'complete' of these which they attempt are "Because I Know You Love Me So" which is still either unfinished, or Paul can't remember all of the lyrics.  They touch upon another old Lennon/McCartney tune called "I'll Wait Until Tomorrow" and spend only seconds on "Thinking of Linking".  One song which would survive because of this idea is "One After 909", but not much became of it yet on this day.

Paul takes on John's "I'm So Tired" and they have a few laughs together with "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" but one of the better performances of the day is their attempt at "The Third Man Theme".

The most interesting, for me anyway, was a very short look at John's "Give Me Some Truth" which wouldn't be recorded properly until his "Imagine" LP sessions.  This is just fleeting however, but an even better attempt is a serious try at George's "All Things Must Pass".  First time listeners may find it extraordinary that this song was really considered a contender as a Beatles' recording early on.  Even later, it would remain such although no proper recording attempt of it would ever be made by the Fab Four.

Another interesting aspect of this day is that some of it was captured in a 'stereo' effect.  While the crew filmed The Beatles, the audio was recorded via two Nagra mono reel-to-reel tape machines.  Each machine was 'assigned' to a camera.   When the camera would start filming a beep could be heard on the tape to assist later in the synchronization of sound-to-film.  The tape reels lasted for only about 16 minutes for each roll.  For the Twickenham studios portion of "The Beatles At Work" a total of 223 rolls were recorded.  Much of it, however, is not unique because much of the time two recorders would be running simultaneously, so when one reel had run out and needed to be changed, the other machine was still recording and capturing whatever might have been missed during the set-up for the next reel on the first machine.

Even though there were two machines recording the microphone source to both was the same, so almost all of these recordings would be considered mono, with one exception.  On January 3rd, for whatever reason, separate audio feeds from different locations on the set were used which created a 'stereo' effect.  The downside to this all is that not much picked up is a revelation, with the exception (for me) of their attempt to play "All Things Must Pass" which is still mainly George trying to teach the song to the other three.  Still, it's pretty cool.

I've uploaded 7 tracks from this day and they are as follows:
"Crackin' Up" (Bo Diddley)
"Because I Know You Love Me So" (early Lennon/McCartney)
"Hitch Hike" (Marvin Gaye)
"I'm So Tired" Paul sings John's tune in partial Stereo
"Hippy Hippy Shake" (Romero) - Stereo
"Improvisation" (Partial Stereo)
"All Things Must Pass" (Harrison) - Stereo

Here is the link:  Beatles 3 Jan 1969

After I uploaded the above file, I created some late additions you can find from the following link:
"The Third Man Theme" sandwiched in between the 1920s "Whispering" and "I'm Beginning to See The Light", both actually recorded on the 21st of January.
"Short Fat Fanny" (Williams) with a short bit at the end from Jackie Lomax's "Speak To Me" which was recorded on the 7th of January.

 George working out the details of "All Things Must Pass" with John.

6 January 1969 - It's Monday, the start of a new week and the working of 'regular business hours' for The Beatles, presumably to coincide with the camera crew's schedule.  It doesn't sit so well, however, with at least Ringo and John, who both didn't feel quite up-to-par this day along with George who admits he didn't sleep well the night before.  

It's not the most productive day.  Paul arrives first once more and premieres a snippet of "Oh! Darling", which is unfinished, but as we would see eventually was recorded by The Beatles later in the year.  He would also touch upon "Carry That Weight" as Ringo would debut his unfinished "Octopus's Garden" and George would introduce "Hear Me Lord" (which admittedly probably suited him best when he included it as the closing track to his solo LP late in 1970).  John recommends they try working on his "All Things Must Pass" again instead. 

The objective of the group coming together was discussed.  They were practicing for a live show but how they were going to pull it off was not resolved.  Yoko presented the idea of performing in front of an empty arena of around 20,000 seats.  Paul jokingly suggests they play completely in the nude, while George says he'd prefer the audience attending the show be naked.  

George Martin wishes to discuss the configuration of the recording equipment for the live show.  He's particularly interested in whether or not the show will be recorded in Twickenham, so he can get a control room put in place with two four-track tape machines linked together to get the eight-track recording benefits.  It would be George's job to produce the LP which they expect to get out of the live performance/television show.

This was also the day of the infamous exchange between Paul McCartney and George Harrison, which would be included in the "Let It Be" film where George tells Paul, "I'll play whatever you want me to play, or I won't play at all if you don't want me to play.  Whatever it is that'll please you, I'll do it."  

Once more they ran through a series of oldies, not much that was noteworthy of recorded excellence, however.  John, realizing he's lacking his own set of new tunes is mulling over the idea to resurrect "Across The Universe", but sadly they never perform their attempts at it well.  

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Improvisation One" (Free form jamming)
"Kansas City (Instrumental)" Larry Williams
"Improvisation Two" (Free form jamming)

7 January 1969 - This day marks the 'debut' of "Get Back", "The Long and Winding Road", "Golden Slumbers", George's "For You Blue" along with a few others.   It should be noted that many were made up of very limited performances, ie, the writer of the song may be the only person 'noodling' around with the tune at the time and it may not even get introduced to the others.

Paul, once again, was the first to arrive and he took advantage of his time to again play solo piano, touching upon some of his new tunes while doing so.

Once more, after everyone arrives, The Beatles perform a few 'standards'.  The best, for me anyway, is "Gone Gone Gone" written by Carl Perkins.  There is a short improvisational piece that I find interesting which is played by just John and Ringo.  One song that will only be performed during these Twickenham days is Paul's "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and it is an interesting early 'take' on the number with the best attempts at it being made today and the next, with neither being 'complete', at least as far as the lyrics go anyway.

During the day they discuss once more the live show, for which they are supposedly rehearsing for.  The idea is that they've invested money now, what are they going to do with it?  Paul points out if the live show doesn't work they can just scrap it, with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg adding they can still have a documentary if all else fails.  John seems to back this idea.

I've personally found evidence here showing how Paul has gotten a bad rap for trying to hold things together for The Beatles, erroneously known as 'forcing' them to continue and do things when they really didn't want to.  Here, George points out that things for the group haven't gone well since Brian Epstein died, to which Paul not only agrees, adding that they either work to improve things, or call it a day.  George indicates that he doesn't want to see the group end on a bad note, with inferior product.  John points out that if they need an incentive to continue, it can be communication, which winds up an ironic thing for him to say as John becomes the most uncommunicative during these days.  George admits he's running out of energy for The Beatles, while Paul doesn't understand why they still can't create together and make great music.

Director Michael believes they need a challenge, and that would be to play a concert away from Twickenham studio and even perhaps abroad.  This, however, is as far as he can take it and it's not helpful because the group have already indicated they don't want to go abroad.

Later, Paul once more asks that if they can't come to a decision about what it is they actually want to do, then why are they all showing up at Twickenham in the first place?  He gets no response.

Despite getting nowhere in discussing their future, The Beatles do make a slight effort at a few of their numbers, (touching once again, very slightly on John's "Gimme Some Truth" for example, and his "Across The Universe" even though he can't remember the words) and ending up with what I feel is the best take on "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window".  Although they would come back to this tune later, I always felt today's version was the least plodding and lethargic from the other attempts.

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (There really wasn't a complete performance of this least Paul couldn't remember the words, so I combined two separate 'takes into one, and I failed because they don't match.  Oh well, it's my hobby so I'm presenting it anyway.)
"She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"
"Gone, Gone, Gone/Good Rockin' Tonight" (Carl Perkins/Roy Brown) The second song is actually from January 9th, but I tacked it on at the end of "Gone, Gone, Gone" to fill things out a bit.
"Improvisation" (Free form jamming)

8 January 1969 - Today it is George and Ringo who are first to arrive at Twickenham.  George introduces a new song, "I Me Mine".  When the rest arrive they begin to work on it and at this stage it is quite interesting as George uses a 'flamenco' type guitar solo which he claims to have got from the influence of Bob Dylan.

They also work on George's "All Things Must Pass" on this day.  They wouldn't make any more attempts at this song until a half-hearted swipe at it on the 29th of January leaving this day's try at it the best I've heard of all of them.  "I Me Mine" would not be revisited, but as footage of them rehearsing it on this day would make it onto the released film, it would be professionally recorded later in 1970 for inclusion on the 'soundtrack' LP.  

John would re-introduce "Mean Mr. Mustard" but it remained an unfinished piece of work.  They would make another attempt at Paul's "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" but their performance is incomplete.

Amazingly they entertain the idea of performing their 'upcoming' show in either Africa or Saudi Arabia.  At least John and Paul are enthusiastic about it.  George and Ringo are still not so keen on playing anywhere except in England.  An even more precarious thought has The Beatles sailing on an ocean liner loaded with fans, continuing their rehearsals as they travel towards their destination to perform at an amphitheater.  No decision is made on this day as all agree to hold off until later to resolve it.

Much of what was filmed on this day made it into the released motion picture, "Let It Be" in 1970.

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"I Me Mine" George's tune put together from two different 'takes' which I find interesting as it shows the different approaches they took to the 'middle eight'.
"All Things Must Pass" George's other contribution showing they went pretty far with it, but eventually never used this song for a serious Beatles recording.
"Improvisation" (Free form jamming)

 Here's some more information about George's "I Me Mine" from "A Hard Day's Write" written by Steve Turner.

George himself explains "I Me Mine" in his book with the same name first published in 1980.  "I Me Mine" is interesting in Beatles history because it was worked on a bit in the early days of January, but when the energy became more focused towards a project called "Get Back" it wasn't revisited.  Yet, it was caught on film being played so it was thought it should be properly recorded for the eventual "Let It Be" soundtrack album to coincide with the "Let It Be" movie, and hence the first song that was considered by the group for their early 1969 project became the last to be seriously recorded in 1970.  "I Me Mine" was always a very short tune, so when I uploaded my January 1969 version I was keen to mimic Phil Spector's later handling of it by repeating the middle eight to lengthen the recording, but I was also happy to capture two different approaches which were being used in the earlier attempts at the song.

9 January 1969 - This day seemingly found everyone in more productive spirits.  Paul and Ringo are again the first to arrive which allows Paul to once more play some of his ideas for compositions on the piano including an incomplete "Another Day" which he would record proper in 1971 for a debut solo single.   He also touches upon "The Long and Winding Road", "Let It Be", "Her Majesty", "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight" and "Oh! Darling"

As the group comes together they take a look at George's "For You Blue", and then "Two of Us", "I've Got a Feeling", "One After 909", and "Get Back", still in its early stages of creation.

Although I suppose things are coming together, I really didn't find any performances that seemed to be perfected, yet enjoy listening to standards like "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "Honey, Hush".  They also did what must have been an improvisation which seems to go by the title "Suzy's Parlour".  This 'composition' was actually copyrighted in 1971 under the title "Suzy Parker" (the name of a contemporary fashion model).

Because I love the song so much, the highlight for me is a couple of half-hearted attempts at John's "Across The Universe".  Unfortunately no performance is complete, but I was able to (on my own) cobble together what I thought was the 'best' of two attempts to make a 'track' out of the song.  This is as good as it ever gets for this number during these rehearsals.  

As mentioned earlier "Get Back" itself is still embryonic in its development, and one time warping into a satirical statement about "a movement within the British government that called for the repatriation of non-white immigrants from other member countries of the British Commonwealth".  They would return to this 'theme' during improvisations which became known as "Commonwealth", "Enoch Powell" and "Get Off!".  With this, John and Paul fall into a pattern "offering a fascinating stream-of-consciousness glimpse into their collective memories" by calling out any name that comes into their minds.  (This type of improvisation foreshadows what would become known as "Dig It" later on.) 

At the end of the day, not much is ever said about the proposed live show, except John likes the idea of having it in America, but can't understand how his current drug bust might make that difficult.  Apparently it's Neil Aspinall's task to inquire about this and how it might affect John's visa.    

Yoko is, of course, again present at John's side, but also Paul's significant other, Linda too is in attendance during this day's rehearsals and takes some of the photos shown below.

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Two Of Us" This is an interesting early faster version of the song.
"Across The Universe" Unfortunately a song that is never fully performed but I've edited together two separate attempts in order to make one full performance.
"Across The Universe (Studio Combo)" Since the song was never officially recorded during this period, The Beatles eventually used an older studio version, recorded in 1968, for the "Let It Be" LP released in 1970. That version was stripped of its original backing vocals and instruments for its 1970 release. At this time, in 1969, there were two versions of the recording, one which John Lennon had taken home for his own purposes. More recordings were done later resulting in a version which was eventually released in late 1969, but some have complained that it was sped up to an undesirable pace making it perhaps too fast. I've slowed it back down to a 'normal' speed and combined it with the earlier version which John had taken home putting one on the left track and one on the right, just for the fun of it, and have added it to this collection.
"Suzy's Parlour" (Free form jamming)
"Honey, Hush" (Another fun little bit of jamming)



10 January 1969 - As this work-week came to a close, so did did the curtain come down on "The Beatles at Work" project.  It started off typically, with Paul again the first to arrive.  The Beatles' music publisher, Dick James would make a visit.  Then Ringo arrived.  Light-hearted performances include a version of Tommy Tucker's "Hi Heel Sneakers" a stab at "Catch a Falling Star" and even the theme from The Beatles' Cartoon TV Series.  

The best part of the day is a lively try at Paul's "Get Back" played at a much faster pace than most of the public would ever know.  

Something happened, however.  Some say it was during a lunch break and it happened between John and George.  The long held view is that it was between Paul and George.  As George would reflect on later, it didn't really matter the specifics, but what was plain by that afternoon was that George had left The Beatles.  At some point it was caught on tape, with George calmly telling the other three, "I'm am leaving the band now," John responding, "What? When?" along with George repeating, "Now."  In any case, I think it's fair to say this had been 'brewing' for a long time and so like Ringo before him, George had finally had enough.  

As George would recall for The Beatles Anthology:  "It never came to blows, but I thought, 'What's the point of this?  I'm quite capable of being relatively happy on my own and I'm not able to be happy in this situation.  I'm getting out of here.'

"So I got my guitar and went home and that afternoon wrote 'Wah-Wah'.  It's important to state that a lot of water has gone under the bridge and that, as we talk now, everybody's good friends and we have a better understanding of the past.  But talking about what was happening at that time, you can see it was strange."

 George, not too long before he walks out on The Beatles.

Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg recalls George leaving The Beatles during lunch time:  "We'd finished the first course when George arrived to stand at the end of the table.  We looked at him as he stood silent for a moment.  'See you 'round the clubs,' he said.  That was his good-bye.  He left.  

"John, a person who reacted aggressively to provocation, immediately said, 'Let's get in Eric.  He's just as good and not such a headache.'

"Paul and Ringo would not be drawn in, and after lunch we went back to the studio where Paul, John and Ringo improvised a ferocious riff, half an hour of anger and frustration expressed with guitars and drums.  Yoko sat on the edge of the rostrum on the blue cushion which had been George's and howled into his mike."  

As the camera pans in the film (not shown to the general public) I was able to 'capture' a view which shows John, Paul & Ringo together with Yoko, improvising a wild session which bootleggers identify as a rendition of The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away".  Except for maybe fragments, I can't hear the similarities and see this as much more free-form, finally concluding with a slowed down vocal by John finishing off with Elvis's "Don't Be Cruel".

A little editorial here from myself:  I'm going out on a limb in front of Beatles fandom to make the statement that The Beatles needed Yoko to happen.  This will fly in the face of those who blame her for 'breaking up the band', but let me explain where I'm coming from.  Although many would find what became of this Beatles/Yoko jam session appalling, I can't help but find it completely fascinating.  (Note: Although George is not present here, he would eventually back up John & Yoko during a live performance that would occur at the close of 1969.)

As 'progressive' as the world will always see The Beatles, especially with their music, when it came to women, all four of them were very backwards and old-fashioned in their thinking.  It's a bit strange when four young men who all seemed to love and respect their mothers very well, would treat their own wives/partners as more like commodities than as equals.  Cynthia and Maureen were the most eager to play that part with John and Ringo, although it appears John was finally getting tired of that role even though he perpetuated it.  Jane Asher wouldn't compromise herself, and so her relationship with Paul was probably doomed from the beginning.  Of all, it appears that maybe Pattie had the most 'equal' relationship with George.  

Up until now, however, women had their place in The Beatles' lives, and it certainly was not within the group.  That space was reserved for the men only.  Yoko smashed through that with them, and of course most assuredly, with John.  ...and John seemed to like and encourage it, even though it would still take a long time even for him to get over the idea that he was really the 'one' of the two.

I believe Linda might have been initially willing to have her 'place' in Paul's life, but something must have changed in him because he would soon be taking her into all of the aspects of his musical life, much as John had with Yoko.  I put it down, the beginning of this huge shift in The Beatles' perspective towards women, as being around this period, and I don't think it could have happened without Yoko's 'intervention'.  

Paul delivering a whole lot of guitar feedback into their jamming with Yoko.

Most of the rest of the day the remaining Beatles avoided discussing what had happened, until near the end when John once more let it be known he'd be willing to continue on without George.   As everything draws to a close, Michael Lindsay-Hogg asks if there is even going to be another session come next Monday.  He doesn't really seem to get a decent answer.  

There would be a private meeting of the four Beatles held at Ringo's house on Sunday the 12th of January.  It may be they all knew of this at this time and had hoped things would be ironed out then and they would all be back together on Monday...hence the film crew would be prepared on that day to learn the outcome.

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Theme from The Beatles Cartoons - Catch a Star" Quickie little ditty.
"Hi Heel Sneakers" (Tucker).
"Get Back [Early Fast Version]" 
"A Quick One While He's Away - Don't Be Cruel" [Free Form Jamming with John, Paul, Ringo & Yoko)

13 January 1969 - The meeting at Ringo's home on the 12th was not only unsuccessful, it appears things deteriorated even more resulting in George's refusal to appear back 'at work' Monday morning.  John seemed to take the attitude that if George wasn't showing up, neither would he and most of the day was spent, quite non productively, trying to contact John who wouldn't arrive until late in the afternoon.

With all of this time on their hands, a discussion is held, not surprisingly with John & Yoko as the subject matter in their absence.  It's interesting to note that Paul is the most supportive of them while Neil Aspinall criticizes them for not taking Sunday's meeting seriously.  Paul, while trying to take on the concerns of others as to Yoko's supposed interference into the group's wavelength, also tries to point out that she is not the problem, but John's possible reliance upon her, which may create a distraction to him.  Yet, while still defending them both, Paul claims when John gets really serious about something you can have his full participation, adding that he and John's songwriting partnership had begun to wane well before Yoko's arrival due to them no longer sharing the physical closeness that they had in previous years.

The ultimate end of The Beatles is brought up, with an idea Paul and Neil had about having, during the live Beatles' performance, an intercut with news reports from around the world, with the final report announcing the break-up of the group.  Everyone thinks this is a good idea, but Linda points out realistically that no one really wants that kind of ending.

When John & Yoko finally arrive the three remaining work some more on "Get Back" but besides that, not much is accomplished on this day and by 5pm they wrap it up.

Paul explaining his vision for filming The Beatles' live performance.  It is interesting to note that Paul has an aversion here to quick cutting, yet I recall seeing later video clips of his performances with Wings with such quick cutting, I found them unwatchable.

Linda, being much more verbal on this day in John & Yoko and George's absence.

John & Yoko wouldn't arrive until 3pm allowing for only a couple of hours work on "Get Back" and then it was over for this rehearsal.

14 January 1969 - This day is kind of an interesting one.  For starters, it's amazing that it happened in the first place, with George gone, and John & Yoko once more showing up late.  All I can think of is that The Beatles still weren't quite ready to 'give it all up' completely.  

With Paul and Ringo being the first to arrive a seemingly spontaneous 'boogie-woogie' piano duet springs from the two as they do a short performance that would wind up in their completed film, and as such was copyrighted by Apple as "Jazz Piano Song" even going so far as to list it as a McCartney/Starkey composition.

It has been said the John & Yoko had been up into the night doing drugs the previous evening, which may have contributed to their being late arriving on this day, and I have to admit John looks a bit out of it still as he and Yoko were filmed soon after they arrived being interviewed by a 'Canadian crew'.  Later, however, he looks much better and even leads Paul on piano (who is now playing guitar in George's place) and Ringo in a few jam sessions.

Before this, however, Peter Sellers drops in with Joe McGrath, the director and co-author of "The Magic Christian", the film in which Ringo will join in as part of the supporting cast.  They exchange a rather admittedly uncomfortable, but somewhat amusing banter between mainly John & Peter along with Paul, Ringo and the rest who are really just sitting around doing nothing at that time.

As the day continues, The Beatles do actually play some music (as mentioned earlier) performing John's "Mean Mr. Mustard" along with an unpublished tune called "Madman" and another one titled "Watching Rainbows" concluding with more improvisations including one which some bootleggers give the title as "Don't Start Running".

One point of interest is John's very short crooning of the lyrics to the still unreleased "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" which had the backing track originally recorded in mid 1967.  I don't know if The Beatles had lyrics to the tune back then or if by 1969 some had been finally conjured up.

As the day ends, somehow someone has apparently got a hold of George Harrison by telephone and it appears that George will be returning from Liverpool the following day.  You can hear John's surprise when Paul tells him the news as he says, "Tomorrow?  So tomorrow we go and see him, you think?  Or, so we don't go here, what?  Or we come here and then go there in the afternoon?"

Paul responds, "I don't know, really.  I think we stop filming now as a matter of policy, yeah?"

With that, the day's recordings come to an end.  The next day on the 15th, it appears that Paul is the only one who spends any time at Twickenham practicing his "Oh! Darling" before heading on over to meet George with the other Beatles to discuss their current state of affairs.   (Or maybe this piece of information comes from his being there late on the 14th?)

Regardless of the particulars, The Beatles all did get together on the 15th and George did indeed agree to return to the group.  It was decided to abandon the cavernous Twickenham Studios and the idea of performing live in front of an audience.  Instead, The Beatles would continue their work in the more comfortable studios of the basement at Apple headquarters at Savile Row, London.  There, it was agreeable to continue being filmed for the making of a new Beatles LP.  Thus the TV documentary, "Beatles At Work" would now evolve into what would be known as the "Get Back" sessions.

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Jazz Piano Song" Paul and Ringo on piano.
"Mean Mr. Mustard - Madman" Two of John's compositions, both I believe unfinished but melded into one here.
"Watching Rainbows" Another 'improvised' piece of music lead by John.
"Improvisation" [Free Form Jamming]
"Don't Start Running" Really another improvised free form piece of jamming as far as I can tell.

13 & 17 January 1969 -  The soundtrack LP to The Beatles "Yellow Submarine" motion picture is finally released in the USA first on the 13th and then in the UK on the 17th.

As mentioned previously, The Beatles didn't have high enthusiasm for the film, a left-over project from their manager, Brian Epstein, who had initially set it in motion for them.  After seeing it, however, they came to appreciate its value and even regretted they didn't spend more time being involved with it.  Hence, up until that time, little attention was given to releasing an LP to coincide with the film and with their new double-LP ready for the Christmas season, "Yellow Submarine" had to wait until now for its release, and was indeed prevented from making the #1 spot in the charts due to "The Beatles" already in circulation, but it did top out at #2.  

I'd mentioned earlier that considering the two previously 'padded' American LPs "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!", it's a bit weird The Beatles were mildly criticized for releasing an LP of half of their music and half of film music, again put together by George Martin.  At least this time around the kids didn't have to skip over tracks of incidental music to get to the sounds of our heroes (although admittedly only 4 of the 6 this time were really 'new' songs).   If they didn't want to, they didn't have to listen to side 2 where all of George Martin orchestrations (which were pretty good, by the way) resided.  

The UK cover is essentially the same as the US version except, most noticeably, the words "Nothing is Real" are omitted in the USA.

 These are photos of the UK version of The Beatles "Yellow Submarine" front and back covers along with the Apple UK Label.  The UK back cover serves as a literal advertisement for their then current release "The Beatles" with liner notes written by Derek Taylor.

The US back cover for "Yellow Submarine" was a bit different with another set of liner notes written by Dan Davis followed by the US Apple labels.

 This was my first true Beatles LP my parents bought for me in 1969.  I can still remember seeing it on the display shelf but not remembering which store we were in at the time.  (My first Beatles single was "Yesterday" from back in 1965, which I talked my Grandmother into buying for me at Woolworths.)

We'd obtained a copy of the first big USA single, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" which was my sister's.  For some reason we missed their first LP, but my brother got "The Beatles' Second Album" later in 1964.  Again we missed out on "A Hard Day's Night" but my brother once more got the later LP "Beatles '65" and "The Early Beatles" in 1965.  

I recall a friend of mine having a copy of "Help!" and for some reason we missed out on that ourselves along with "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver", all which I would enjoy buying for myself, along with the others we'd not obtained, later when the 1970s were upon us.  We did continue with the singles, however, my sister getting copies of "Eight Days A Week" & "Ticket To Ride" and eventually "Hey Jude".  (I still remember hearing "Yellow Submarine" on the radio and how popular it was at the time, my brother making jokes about the title substituting the word "submarine" with "septic tank"!)

My sister also got the LPs "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Magical Mystery Tour" which I listened to a lot.  I was just learning to read and would follow along with the music while looking at those lyrics on the back cover of "Sgt. Pepper".  I recall hearing "The Beatles" double-LP when a friend of my brother's brought a copy over one day.  I seem to remember being a bit frightened of them at that time as they'd evolved so much since 1964.  Although my brother did have a tape cassette for "Abbey Road", I eventually got "The Beatles Again" (aka the "Hey Jude" LP) and finally for my 10th birthday, Mom and Dad presented me with "Let It Be".

20 January 1969 - As promised, The Beatles were back together on this day in the basement of their Apple headquarters to test out the recording equipment that had been installed by 'Magic Alex' Mardas.  What they found, however, left them in a completely unsuitable state.

Dave Harries (recording engineer) recalls:  "The mixing console was made of a bit of wood and an old oscilloscope.  It looked like the control panel of a B-52 bomber.  They actually tried a session on this desk, they did a take, but when they played back the tape it was all hum and hiss.  Terrible."

Alan Parsons (tape operator at that time) concurs:  "The metal was an eighth of an inch out around the knobs and switches.  It had obviously been done with a hammer and chisel instead of being properly designed and machined.  It did pass signals but Glyn Johns said, 'I can't do anything with this.  I can't make a record with this board.'"

This forced The Beatles to aquire equipment from EMI Studios at Abbey Road.  Brought in, with the help of George Martin, were two four-track consoles to be used along with their own 3M eight-track tape machines which were all installed by the next day.  

The fate of Alex Mardas's equipment was summed up by Geoff Emerick:  "The mixing console was sold as scrape to a secondhand electronics shop in the Edgware Road for £5.  It wasn't worth any more."

It is said that The Beatles did spend time together 'performing a number of songs' this Monday but nothing appears to have been recorded.  

Mal Evans (right) with Apple assistant work to bring in needed equipment for The Beatles to record at Apple Studios.

21 January 1969 - It is apparent that The Beatles were serious about getting this job completed as they would return every single day to the Apple studio through to the end of the month.  (Some older but credible sources state that The Beatles weren't able to resume working until the 22nd, but film footage and audio sources seem to concur they were ready to roll on the 21st.)

The audio sources reveal, however, somewhat of a setback, initially anyway.  In this more secure and controlled environment, the playing is at first even more lackluster, the sound not so good and one wonders if it was wise they even tried to 'get back to where they once belonged'. 

In fact one of the more interesting things to listen to isn't the music, but a conversation between John and Paul about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, where Paul says something to the effect of how tragic his words of peace were silenced by a crazy person to which John adds that it really wasn't a crazy person who murdered him, "It was business."  

Either things improved this day, or the audio that follows is really from the 22nd, but they do finally settle down into credible tries at "Dig a Pony", "I've Got a Feeling", "Don't Let Me Down" and a version of "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" that was deemed good enough to be included on "The Beatles Anthology 3" in 1996.


If it was a problem between George and John that was the straw that broke The Beatles' back causing George to leave the group, it appears that John at least is doing his best to be cordial with George here upon his return.


If George was pondering whether his return to The Beatles was a good idea or not, a smile finally tries to emerge from him by the end of the day.

While on his way into London by car, Ringo is interviewed by David Wigg, the first of many Mr. Wigg would have with members of The Beatles during these closing days of their careers together.

It's short but interesting coming from the first member to leave the group the previous year, while now coming together again after George's recent departure.  Ringo also discusses his thoughts on John & Yoko's nude LP cover.

This was broadcast on the BBC radio program, "Scene and Heard" on January 25, 1969.  I've uploaded it to the following link:

22 January 1969 - Things did start to 'jell' on this day with better attempts at "Dig a Pony" (one such 'take' was included on "The Beatles Anthology 3") along with performances which would become the beginnings of the first, but unused, version of the "Get Back" LP.  Songs like "Don't Let Me Down" and "I've Got a Feeling" along with little improvisations by The Beatles and a snippet of "Save The Last Dance For Me" made the cut.   I still can't understand for the life of me, however, why they used a version of "I've Got a Feeling" that breaks down and is incomplete!  This was not only selected for the proposed LP, but when that went by the wayside, years later it was finally issued on "The Beatles Anthology 3".  There were plenty of other 'takes' of that song which were at least as good (in my opinion) and that were complete performances so this has always baffled me.

Of the dialogue which was captured today one of the more interesting bits concerned the mother of Stuart Sutcliffe, who made an impassioned plea to The Beatles for money to help support her in her time of 'need' and 'illness'.  As George read her words, John interjected, "Illness...she's alcoholic."  George continues, "I beg of you, please come if only for the sake of the boy you once knew."  John's reply was, "Fuckin' hell, what's that got to do with me?" to which Paul adds, "What does it have to do with Stu?  I mean she didn't know him."  John replies, "No, he hated her anyways.  I remember at college, he used to tell me, 'cept for she gave him 20 ciggies a day and 5 bob.  So I mean it's registered (the letter) so I gotta just write to her and say, 'What?' or something, I oughta  ..Can we count her in on the Rock and Roll show?"    

That infamous photo which shows the uninspired look on everyone concerned and seems to indicate that the magic isn't there any more as The Beatles listen to the playback of their efforts. 

By far the most important event of the day was the addition of Billy Preston to the band!  For the first time since the beginning, The Beatles would once more be a quintet.  It was George Harrison who, perhaps sensing they needed an outside professional to help them all fall 'in line', grabbed Mr. Preston from the Apple Studio reception area this day and talked him into joining the sessions.  Along with his organist skill, Mr. Preston would add a vital fifth instrument to the live sound that the group was trying to capture. Logically he fit in perfectly as backed up by some words from John Lennon, where it was felt the songs needed his participation.  John would later tell him, "You're giving us a lift, Bill!"

At one point you can hear Mr. Preston being introduced to George Martin by John, remarking how The Beatles knew him from the Star Club days of 1962 when he was backing Little Richard. 

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Dig A Pony" This is a combination from three different tracks recorded on this day.
"I've Got A Feeling [Extended Version]" This edit contains an 'introduction' with just George alone, strumming away on January 6, 1969 and leads into a band instrumental introduction, of sorts, which was recorded on January 23rd leading into a complete 'performance' which is an edit of two 'takes' from this day, January 22nd and finally ending with a 'coda' which was performed on January 27, 1969.

(It was my feeling that I did not want to simply present songs that are already very familiar to Beatles fans, but to come up with something, somehow, which is unique and 'new' to most listeners.  This is why these tracks have been so extensively edited, in this case.)

More information about "Dig A Pony" and "I've Got A Feeling" from "A Hard Day's Write" by Steve Turner.

23 January 1969 - A definite turning point in the history of the "Get Back" sessions, as not only were everyone seemingly happy and cooperative, but the day yielded a version of "Get Back" (although not ultimately used) that was good enough to be mixed proper and I believe acetate discs were made of it as well.  Much of the day had been spent on this one song and the results were good enough to put everyone in agreement that this number should be the next Beatles single, and it eventually was.  From now on, everything revolved around it and they had a foundation to build off of.  The Beatles were finally ready to "Get Back"!

Ringo's "Octopus's Garden" would also emerge this day, still unfinished, and not much was made of it yet.  "I've Got a Feeling" was touched upon, and so was "Oh! Darling", but that tune would never seriously be recorded by The Beatles at this time.  Finally, after a pretty cool 'blues instrumental', a fun version of "Twenty Flight Rock" was performed but unfortunately Paul (who so famously impressed John Lennon with his complete rendition of it in their youth) this time around couldn't remember the words!

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Blues Instrumental" A nice bit of bluesy improvisation by the group.
"Get Back [Extended Version]" This edit contains an 'introduction' with just Paul alone, strumming away on January 7, 1969 and leads into a band instrumental introduction, of sorts, which was recorded on January 24th leading into a complete 'performance' from this day the 23rd, which was at first considered the best version of the song up to that time, concluding with an extended ending which was performed on January 27, 1969.

New Fifth Beatle, Billy Preston arrives and is ready to go! 

At one time during the day, John & Yoko get to do their 'thing'! 

George, Ringo and 'producer' Glyn Johns 

Listening to an energetic playback of "Get Back" and realizing that maybe The Beatles aren't entirely 'through' yet! 

Ringo on the right, and I believe that is director Michael Lindsay-Hogg on the left.

24 January 1969 - As usual, there were a lot of tunes 'covered' on this day, but not much worthy of preservation in the annals of Beatles history.  I believe, however, it was the day for "Two of Us", titled "On Our Way Home" at this stage.  Paul can be heard at one time referring to the tune as a sort of follow-up to "Get Back", as in 'now we are "On Our Way Home"'.  Indeed a version of it from today was selected for the original "Get Back" LP, and also another one was released on "The Beatles Anthology 3".   (An earlier faster version was caught on tape January 9th, which was kind of exciting as many of the later takes played out a bit slow.)  

Paul really tried to introduce a tune of his, "Teddy Boy" but it was never properly recorded by The Beatles.  Indeed they only got past a few rough tries, including one on this day where John begins to ad-lib in a way which may not have helped the song, but did come off amusing enough that Glyn Johns would work on, edit it down a bit, and put it on the running order for his original "Get Back" LP.  That's as far as it would go, however, as it was soon dropped from any planned release and Paul would later record it properly for his LP "McCartney" in 1970.  Bits of it combined with another attempt on January 28th, however, did make "The Beatles Anthology 3".  

Paul would also have a crack at "Her Majesty" which eventually found its way on "Abbey Road" by a miracle, and it was what it was, never progressing past the very short little ditty that it is here as well.   John, in turn, threw out for the only known time during these sessions, "Polythene Pam", which is marred only by his continual halting mid-tune and then restarting, as if he couldn't remember either the lyrics or how to play it.  

Continuing on with 'short ditties' The Beatles also did a couple of tries at "Maggie Mae", one of which would not only make it onto the original "Get Back" LP, but would survive to the released "Let It Be" record in 1970.  

Perhaps the exact opposite, "Dig It" made it's debut today, and although there wasn't much to the lyrics as they were as repetitive as the previous numbers, this one would go on for well over 5 minutes.  It was an early version of the 'song' as it would be redone later and it would be a snippet of that version which would be released.  (A few bits of dialogue from John at the end of this 'take', however, would be grafted onto the later attempt of "Dig It" for album release.)  This and a few more 'improvisations' made for an interesting output for this day.

Beatles tracks from this day are included in the link below:
"Improvisation" (Group jamming session)
"Dig It [Version One]" 
"Her Majesty" (Paul's short ditty makes a debut)
"Teddy Boy" A version of this song did make it on the first "Get Back" LP compilation, but what made it most interesting at that time was its failure as a song contender and Paul and (in particular) John's humor at pointing that out while playing it. I'm particularly fond of this edit I made up from this day combined with another attempt at it from January 29th, which helps it come off probably as good as it's going to get as played by first Paul and then The Beatles. Paul would, of course, release a studio version later on his first solo LP in 1970.
"Maggie Mae - I Fancy Me Chances" - "Maggie Mae" was actually played a few times during these sessions like "Dig It" but this version is a bit more up-tempo and to add more interest to it I also linked a short ditty onto the end which is something both John and Paul obviously know, but its origin is not known.  Some say it comes from an early Lennon/McCartney original.
"Polythene Pam" This tune makes it only showing on this day with John almost 'stuttering' it out with frequent stops and re-starts as if he was having trouble remembering the lyric. I'm proud of my effort to edit all of that out presenting what appears to now be a complete performance.

25 January 1969 - Billy Preston was not present on this day and I'm not certain why he was absent.

Although they would work more on "Two of Us" (and produce a take which, for me, is as good as any the released versions) and then more earnestly on "Let It Be", the day belongs to George's "For You Blue" which would yield the version chosen for the "Get Back" LP and would survive, albeit with a newly recorded vocal by George, to the final "Let It Be" LP.  A version from today would also be released on "The Beatles Anthology 3" in 1996.

George had offered up "All Things Must Pass" and "I Me Mine", not to mention completely failed attempts at trying to introduce his "Hear Me Lord", "Let It Down" and even "Isn't It A Pity".  The group finally settled on his "For You Blue" which would be the only George Harrison effort they seriously worked on during the entire "Get Back" sessions.  The only reason "I Me Mine" was included on the "Let It Be" LP was that some work on it would appear in the "Let It Be" film, so it was decided to knock it off in the studio in early 1970 for the 'soundtrack' recording.  George would continue during these final days of the current sessions to introduce songs which still wouldn't be given proper attention by the group as a whole.  Those would include "Old Brown Shoe" and "Something", but their time coming was on the horizon.

When The Beatles began real work on "Let It Be" today, Paul still hadn't finished the two final verses, and he wouldn't apparently until the very end as it appears only two 'takes' of that song seem to exist of it as completed, one which appears on the LP releases, and the other which is shown in the film.

Fab photos of Ringo and Paul checking out the roof where in a matter of days they'd be 'performing' from.  It would be as far as they could go as The Beatles.

26 January 1969 - Continuing without a break during the weekend, The Beatles showed up on this Sunday (including the return of Billy Preston) to see what fruit might bear from their getting together.

All Beatles projects included something special from Ringo.  Even "Magical Mystery Tour" revolved around Ringo and his Aunt Jessie, although it contained no 'real' Ringo song in it.  (Still, his name appeared on the one instrumental track.)   He would showcase a solo penned tune on their last double record and today as he and George were the first to arrive they began work on his next song, "Octopus's Garden".   Unfortunately it was very unfinished, and would remain that way for some time to come, but as Paul and John arrived, eventually everyone would put a little time in an attempt at making something out of it.

Ringo might not have felt too neglected as not only was George himself finding it difficult to get anyone to focus on any of his offered tunes, John had pretty much dried up and even Paul's contributions weren't seriously looked at today with the exception of "The Long and Winding Road".  It would 'come together' at the end of the day and (although they may have not been totally satisfied with it at the time) it was this version of the song that would be the one to make it to not only the "Get Back" LP but the completed "Let It Be" LP as well, adorned with a Phil Spector lead orchestra.  (The 'naked' version of "The Long and Winding Road" would finally be officially released in 1996 on "The Beatles Anthology 3".  Paul would use a later version of the tune for his "Let It Be: Naked" LP venture in 2003.)

Still a lot of interesting sound came from this day with The Beatles.  It was probably their most 'successful' day playing the oldies, with a rendition of "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" a medley of tunes, "Rip It Up", "Shake, Rattle and Roll", "Kansas City", "Miss Ann", "Lawdy Miss Crawdy" along with "Blue Suede Shoes" and "You Really Got A Hold On Me".  There were also a few intriguing 'improvisations' and stabs at "The Tracks of My Tears", "Agent Double O Soul", "S.O.S" and "I'm Movin' On".

There were more, of course, including a rare George Harrison tune "Window, Window" but these weren't real performances and in fact I'm pushing it when I included the titles above as I lead the reader to believe these are full-take recordings.  The Beatles may still have not been concerning themselves with a schedule to output real product, but they did seem to be having a good time, maybe still thinking just the fact they were together something would come of it.  In a way, it does, because the atmosphere is relaxing and one can get the feel of what it was like to be included inside the world of these four brothers for a day, just hanging out and playing, because I'd say that's basically what they did today.

One 'jam' which came from it all was titled "Dig It" which was somewhat patterned from the January 24th 'attempt' at the 'song' but it was definitely 'arranged' differently and very long at roughly over 12 minutes of playing.  (Much of it was 'marred' with Heather Eastman, Linda's daughter, 'singing' into the microphone sounding much like Yoko's screeching.)  This version of "Dig It" would be parred down to about 4 minutes of that time for the "Get Back" LP release, and then down to just seconds for "Let It Be" in 1970.

George and Ringo were the first to arrive, and consequently George began working with Ringo on his new song, "Octopus's Garden".  Unfortunately it was not completed during this time. 

George Martin adding percussion to "Dig It", with The Beatles.

Billy Preston was back today and rockin' the keys!

Linda Eastman's daughter, Heather, was 'guest' civilian at today's session, and even got her voice on tape with The Beatles while enjoying visiting each one.

A very blurry image of one of the interesting 'Improvisations' of the day with Paul on drums (Ringo behind him) and Yoko keeping it down to just lending 'ambience'. 

Peace & Love!

27 January 1969 - Even though they'd had a breakthrough with "Get Back" on the 23rd of the month, with a recorded take which was at first deemed 'best' for release, it was today when they finally made a version of the song which couldn't be beat, and was to become their new single.  Even then, however, just as they came to the finish George can be heard saying, "We missed that end, didn't we?"

That 'ending' or musical 'coda' would be recorded the next day and then later tacked onto today's 'take' for release, showing from the start that when it came to presenting what The Beatles had done this month to the world, they couldn't totally rely on finding the fresh, one-take wonder they were looking for each song they recorded.  They would have to continue to work with studio 'trickery' because in many cases what they were producing, at least they felt, wasn't good enough to stand totally on its own.  (Even though it wasn't used, there was an extended 'ending' for "Get Back" which was recorded today which I found pretty cool.)

Of other interest in today, a version of "Oh! Darling" was eventually released on "The Beatles Anthology 3" in 1996, but I believe they did a better attempt on the 31st, that final day of recording.   They also worked more on "I've Got a Feeling" recording a cool sounding extended ending for that as well, in my opinion.

What would become the flip-side for their new single, "Don't Let Me Down" was attempted on this day, and it was pretty good, but a better version would be recorded later.

Some more interesting 'improvisations' would be caught on tape as well, along with a jam session that ended with Paul and John singing what they could remember from a 1958 Jimmy McCracklin tune called "The Walk" which initially was considered good enough to be included on a very early set of acetates prepared for by Glyn Johns in March.  "The Walk" wouldn't make it to the "Get Back" LP, however, or any further.

George would make an attempt to teach the others another one of his songs, "Old Brown Shoe" which they would record seriously later in the year and "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" would also be looked at, but the day belonged to "Get Back".

The Beatles as seen from inside the control room.

John acting silly as they listen to a playback of "Dig It" in the control booth.

28 January 1969 - Another day in which the effort of this project seems to become worthwhile and bear some fruit.  There was an interesting bluesy type rendition of "The Long and Winding Road", once more they recorded "I've Got a Feeling""Dig A Pony" and an attempt at "On The Road to Marrakesh" aka "Child of Nature" but unfortunately nothing came from that.  There was a 1969 look at "Love Me Do" which wasn't too badly done, however, it certainly wasn't meant for public consumption.

The ending for their new single "Get Back" was lifted from a take this day which extended beyond the edit used.  "Don't Let Me Down" was completed for the 'B' side of that single.

"One After 909" had been played during the early days of the month, but today it was begun to be worked on more seriously with a version that was completed which sounded a bit more like the original 1963 studio version than what it would become.

George offered "Old Brown Shoe" again and they would get farther with it today, but serious recordings of it were still off into the future.   George also tried early work with the group on his "Something" today.  He hadn't finished the lyric to the song and John can be heard helping him get past that for the sake of getting the instruments worked out for it instead.  (No known full 'take' of "Something" has surfaced from this period, unfortunately.)

Another tune which would become John's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" was begun on this day and a highlight is a short jam session led by Billy Preston!  When was the last time The Beatles backed another artist?  Quite an honor for Mr. Preston, and it sounds pretty good too!

The other point of interest on this day is that The Beatles met Allan Klein together for the first time.  The group had been thinking of buying out what was left of NEMS but Mr. Klein suggested that he look into their finances first before they made that venture.

In the control room listening to a playback with (L2R) Ringo, Paul, Michael Lindsay-Hogg & Linda.

Blurry black & white snapshots of Yoko, John and Billy Preston.
Either John changed his shirt or this is from another day.  It appears to be the same day by studying the background.

Derek Taylor, Linda and Glyn Johns

Ringo, with (I believe) Alistair Taylor, Paul & George Martin

 The two Georges.

29 January 1969 - The final day inside the Apple offices before attempting to perform 'live' while outside and on top of the roof of their building.  There are discussions about it and all seem to be in agreement to give it a go, but no formal rehearsal for the event takes place.  Billy Preston is again absent from today's work, and again I'm not certain why.

What would become a bridge of sorts from this moment to their final long-playing record project, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", still known at this time as only "I Want You", was again worked on this day.  (They would return to it in the weeks ahead and eventually finish it off and include it on the "Abbey Road" LP.)

Other tunes they would return to on this day include George's "All Things Must Pass", "Let It Down", "Something", Paul's "Teddy Boy" (again!), "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window", John's "Dig It" got yet another and final version played, "One After 909" and the best of their oldies on this day included "Maybe Baby", "Crying, Waiting, Hoping", "Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues" (which was edited, re-arranged, and release in 1996 on "The Beatles Anthology 3", and a 'medley' of "Cannonball", "Not Fade Away", "Hey Little Girl" & "Peggy Sue Got Married" the importance here being the focus on Buddy Holly songs which so influenced The Beatles, but were not so prominently represented on their official releases.


30 January 1969 - An exciting day from beginning to end!  With the decision to finally play outdoors on the roof of the Apple offices, that would be as far as The Beatles could go playing what could technically be called a 'live' performance, but not an official concert.

Paul recalls:  "It was a very strange location because there was no audience...  So we were playing virtually to nothing -- to the sky, which was quite nice.  They filmed downstairs in the street -- and there were a lot of city gents looking up:  'What's that noise?'"

George adds:  "We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there.  It was a nice little social study."

Sound engineer Alan Parsons recalls:  "...nobody ever questioned The Beatles.  'They want to do it on the roof?  Fine, it will be done'.  (That) day it was very windy and early in the morning Glyn (Johns) sent me out to buy ladies stockings to put over the mikes, to prevent the wind from getting into them. I felt a right prat going into Marks and Spencer's and asking for a pair of stockings.  'What size sir?' 'Oh, it doesn't matter.' The look they gave me was very, very weird!"

Technical engineer Dave Harries adds:  "Early that morning at about five o'clock, we (he and co-engineer Keith Slaughter) were driving towards London in an EMI car, full of ropes and blocks and tackle, bits of wood, amplifiers, speakers, God knows what, and we got pulled by the law in Kings Langley.  We had these big coats and hats on and looked for all the world like a couple of burglars.  The copper asked where we were going and we said, 'If we told you you wouldn't believe us...' so he let us go!"

The roughly 42 minutes The Beatles were on that roof playing was captured by Glyn Johns down in the basement of Apple on two eight-track audio tapes broken down to as follows:  1) Paul vocal; 2) John (and George) vocal; 3) Billy Preston's organ playing; 4) Paul's bass; 5) the sync track for the film crew; 6) Ringo's drums; 7) John's guitar; 8) George's guitar.

There were nine performances, but some of the songs were repeated so the 'show' goes as follows:

"Get Back" (1) - more of a 'rehearsal' and not used on any record or final film.
"Get Back" (2) - used in the "Let It Be" film edited with footage from the 'rehearsal'.
"Don't Let Me Down" (1) - used in the "Let It Be" film
"I've Got a Feeling" (1) - used in the "Let It Be" film and LP record.
"One After 909" - used in the "Let It Be" film and both the "Get Back" and "Let It Be" LP records.
"Dig a Pony" -  used in the "Let It Be" film and LP record (although slightly edited).
"I've Got a Feeling" (2) - not used in its entirety on any record or film.
"Don't Let Me Down" (2) - not used in its entirety on any record or film.
"Get Back" (3) - used in the "Let It Be" film and finally released on record with "The Beatles Anthology 3"

Dave Harries continues:  "There were people hanging off balconies and out of every office window all around.  The police were knocking on the door -- George Martin went white!  We really wanted to stop the traffic, we wanted to blast out the entire West End..."

Paul recalls:  "In the end it started to filter up from Mal that the police were complaining.  We said, 'We're not stopping.'  He said, 'The police are going to arrest you.' 'Good end to the film! Let them do it.  Great!  That's an end; 'Beatles Busted on Rooftop Gig'."

Ringo adds:  "I always feel let down about the police.  ...when they came up I was playing away and I thought, 'Oh great!  I hope they drag me off.'  I wanted the cops to drag me off -- 'Get off those drums!' -- because we were being filmed and it would have looked really great, kicking the cymbals and everything.  Well, they didn't, of course, they just came bumbling in; 'You've got to turn that sound down.'  It would have been fabulous."

John, of course, had the final word when it was all over:  "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we've passed the audition."

Alan Parsons sums it all up:  "That was one of the greatest and most exciting days of my life.  To see The Beatles playing together and getting an instant feedback from the people around them, five cameras on the roof, cameras across the road, in the was just unbelievable."

The view from the Apple rooftop.

31 January 1969 - Back inside for the "Apple Studio Performance" as noted on the tape boxes with two piano songs "The Long and Winding Road",  "Let It Be" and one acoustic, "Two of Us".  While the outdoor performance was treated a little more loosely and relaxed, today's work was a lot more 'controlled' with The Beatles really attempted to make releasable music.   Everyone, including Billy Preston, was arranged on a platform for more filming with Ringo in his usual spot, Paul up front, George sitting throughout and John and Yoko cross-legged on the floor.

Each of the nine performances the day before had a 'take' number so today began with 'take 10A' of the first song, "Two of Us".   There were a couple of more takes and then onto "The Long and Winding Road" which more time was spent on before finally finishing up with "Let It Be".  

In between takes, as usual, they would play other tunes such as Paul's "Step Inside Love", "Lady Madonna", "Build Me Up Buttercup" and "Let's Have a Party".  They also hit on John's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" which still didn't have the "She's So Heavy" part added to it yet.  They also did a fairly decent version of Paul's "Oh! Darling" although it wasn't considered or supposed to be a releasable recording itself. 

One take of "Two Of Us" was used on the "Let It Be" LP along with another which was featured in the film.  The same was for "Let It Be" but today's version of "The Long And Winding Road" was at first only shown in the film.  A January 31st recording of "The Long And Winding Road" wouldn't be released on record until "Let It Be...Naked" came out in 2003.

With that, all of the material needed had been committed to tape and film for The Beatles "Get Back" project.

1-3 February 1969 - During these days meetings were held at Apple Headquarters with The Beatles and Allen Klein along with Paul's future father in-law John Eastman to further discuss The Beatles attempt at buying NEMS, Brian Epstein's former company now being run by his brother Clive.

It appears it was Mr. Eastman's idea to conduct the purchase, and Mr. Klein said he believed more time would be needed to study the details of such a purchase.  Mr. Eastman was unhappy with this and tried to expose Mr. Klein as not having good integrity, but in the end Mr. Klein impressed John strongly enough that George and Ringo agreed with him, leaving Paul out of the equation, a first in Beatles history.  Up until now if any one of the group was not happy with any situation, the other three would support him and it would go no further.  Not this time.  Paul was essentially out-voted 3 to 1 creating a very awkward energy which ultimately became the straw that broke the camel's back.

Things did not deteriorate right away, of course.  John Eastman became legal adviser to The Beatles.  Allen Klein got his wish as Clive Epstein agreed to hold off on talks to sell NEMS until Mr. Klein could investigate the financial positions of companies related to The Beatles which included United Artists Corporation (handling The Beatles films), General Artists Corporation (which had handled The Beatles American tours) and EMI along with Capitol Records, Inc.

5 February 1969 - Glyn Johns begins work on assembling and LP for The Beatles "Get Back" sessions.   He commences with the recordings from the live rooftop performances.

3 February - 2 May 1969:  Ringo would report for work on his second film project during this 13 week period. His first acting part made for him was more of a guest appearance in the film "Candy" which, although made over a year previously still hadn't been released yet.  This role was definitely a co-starring part written specifically for him in a film called "The Magic Christian".  It was Peter Sellers who wanted him to play his adopted son in a story that originally did not have that character.  Terry Southern, who incidentally was also a writer for the original novel for "Candy" had written the novel for "The Magic Christian", and was on hand to help in revising the story to accompany the addition of Ringo's part.  The early filming began at Twickenham Film Studios.

6 December 1968 & 17 February 1969:  What about this new Apple Records venture?

The first non-Beatles LP to be released by the label would be by perhaps the most significant artist 'discovery' promoted by Apple, James Taylor.  His record, "James Taylor" was released in the UK at the beginning of December in 1968 and then finally in the USA in February.

It would be produced by Peter Asher who was now the A&R head for Apple Records and had been recorded at Trident Studios from July-October 1968.  Paul McCartney would play bass and George Harrison provided backing vocals to one track, "Carolina In My Mind".  Although a critical success, the LP was a commercial failure not helped by Mr. Taylor's drug addiction and breakdown which started during the LPs creation.  Peter Asher would stick by Mr. Taylor's side, however, and produced his next record, but it would not be with Apple Records.

One note of interest, a song from the LP, "Something in the Way She Moves" would give George his starting point for his own song, "Something".

The other release that occurred along with "James Taylor" on the same day both in the UK and in the USA was an LP titled, "Under The Jasmin Tree" which had actually been recorded by an American jazz band, the Modern Jazz Quartet, in New York two years previously in December 1967.   I can't really find much more information to report about it.

21 February 1969 & 3 March 1969:  Perhaps the most anticipated release by Apple outside of Beatles product was the first LP by Mary Hopkin, "Post Card", which would come out at the end of February, early March in the UK & US.  

It was produced by Paul McCartney, and was more successful than the previous Apple releases reaching #3 in the UK and #28 in the USA.   It differed between the two countries in that the cover version of "Someone to Watch Over Me" was replaced by the already released "Those Were The Days" in the US.

Besides some other 'standards' it was highlighted by three songs written by Donovan, one by Harry Nilsson and one by George Martin.  

The back cover of the UK version.

Paul and his protégé, Mary Hopkin
The American version of the LP appeared almost the same, but with Mary's name and the LP title switching places on the cover. 

Paul at the launch party for "Post Card" on February 13, 1969.

Mary with The Beatles.

20 - 23 February 1969 - There seems to be a little mystery as to exact recording dates and subject matter in regards to The Beatles' return to recording together again.  First, they reconvened at Trident Studios and not Apple because borrowed equipment from EMI had been returned and that studio involved a 'technological re-think' for one thing.  

It is certain that after the "Get Back" sessions, it wouldn't be long until the group realized that if they were going to release any material from that period, much of it just did not seem to 'live up' to their previous studio recordings.  

For example, it is believed around the 20th of February they returned to re-record portions of "Don't Let Me Down".  There is evidence the vocals on the released track differ from the earlier sessions version in January and that both John and Paul worked on their parts adding a double-tracked version of John's.  (We know "Get Back" itself is an edit of two separate performances.)

From the 7th until the 15th George was in hospital having his tonsils removed.  Of course, Ringo was busy filming "The Magic Christian" but he was able to find some free time from that to work with The Beatles.  Glyn Johns and Billy Preston were in America during mid-February so all of this combined most likely contributed to the three-week delay of their returning to work together. 

It is known that on the 22nd of February they turned to serious work on John's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" which included 35 takes of the basic track along with John's guide vocal.  On the 23rd, still at Trident, the beginning of take 9 of "I Want You" (which had the best vocal) was edited with take 20 of the best middle eight, concluding with take 32 for the rest of the track for one full master take.   Both Glyn Johns and Billy Preston were present on this date and so it is unclear what the intentions at this stage were for the song.  On the 23rd of February a rough mix was made for John Lennon and a safety copy of the edit as well. 

25 February 1969 - With only Ken Scott in the control room, George returns to Abbey Road alone on this day, his 26th birthday, and records eight-track demos of three of his latest compositions, "Old Brown Shoe" which The Beatles would record soon, "Something" which would be used on the group's next LP after "Get Back", and "All Things Must Pass" that George would use himself to launch his first true solo LP at the end of 1970.  

George alone recorded the vocals, guitar and piano.  The recordings were mixed and acetate discs were made from those mixes.  All three demos were eventually released on "The Beatles Anthology 3" in 1996.

(Note:  I believe this is George at home actually from April 1969.)