Paul McCartney hints at a Beatles’ live TV show project

Saturday, September 14, 1968


On this day, British music magazine Melody Maker reports that the Beatles have plans for a live TV show. Paul McCartney says that a concert might be possible in the near future (there is also a longer interview of Paul about the new single “Hey Jude” and about Mary Hopkin) :

The idea of singing live is much more appealing to us now – we are beginning to miss it. We will be doing a live TV show later in the year. I don’t know about a concert, but it might lead to that. I love the idea of playing again – and I know the others feel the same way.

Paul McCartney – Interview with Melody Maker, September 14, 1968

To put things into context, at this date, The Beatles were still working on their next album – the double LP “The Beatles” – which would be completed on October 18 and released on November 22, 1968.

From Melody Maker, September 14, 1968

A follow-up article was published in September 21, with some comments from press office Tony Barrow.

The Beatles – who can be seen on Top Of The Pops tonight (Thursday) and Time For Blackburn on Saturday in some area – may do a “live” TV spectacular.

As reported in last week’s MM, the group have started to miss playing for an audience. Said press office Tony Barrow: “They have realised that they could easily do a show for TV – like the live clips of ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution’ – only featuring perhaps 10 or 12 numbers“.

The venue for the show – whether a TV studio or a theatre – still has to be decided and Tony Barrow emphasised that at this stage the project is just an idea.

But it seems likely that the group will do a TV show in this way and may follow with some form of live appearances. […]

From Melody Maker, September 21, 1968
From Melody Maker, September 21, 1968

The Beatles were very happy with the way the promotional films for ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution’ worked out, and they think that the next logical step would be to do a sort of TV concert. In fact, a 45/60 minute show is a distinct possibility.

Tony Barrow – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

Music magazines would give various updates on this “live TV show” project between September 1968 and early 1969. The project would morph a few times and would lead to the “Get Back / Let It Be” sessions in January 1969, the Beatles’ last live performance on the rooftop of the Apple building, and the release of the “Let It Be” film in 1970.

Timeline of events:

  • September 14, 1968 – Paul McCartney said to Melody Maker that The Beatles “will be doing a live TV show later in the year
  • September 26, 1968 – Apple booked the Royal Albert Hall for several days in December, in preparation for a possible live performance by The Beatles, alongside other Apple artists like Mary Hopkin and Jackie Lomax.
  • October 12, 1968 – New Musical Express and Melody Maker reported that the plan to use the Royal Albert Hall was no more and that London’s Chalk Farm Roundhouse was now the likely venue for a Beatles live TV special.
  • November 6, 1968 – Apple announced that the Beatles had booked the London Roundhouse to play three successive nights (a run-through, a dress rehearsal and a final show), between December 14 and 21, 1968.
  • December 1968 – The live show was postponed to January 18, 1969, with a rehearsal and a run-through possibly on January 16 and 17. The Roundhouse was not considered anymore and the venue was still undecided. More rumours came through : that the show could be held in Liverpool, that American singer Andy Williams could join.
  • January 2, 1969 – The “Get Back / Let It Be” sessions started at Twickenham Film Studios.
  • January and early February 1969 – Throughout January and early February 1969, the musical press mentioned the “Get Back” sessions, the upcoming live performance and an associated TV documentary. But at the end of January, it became clear that the plans for a live performance in front of an audience were called off.

Last updated on August 1, 2023

Going further

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