Paul McCartney and Tony Barrow give more details about the Beatles’ live TV show project

Saturday, October 12, 1968

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On September 14, 1968, Paul McCartney announced to music magazine Melody Maker that The Beatles “will be doing a live TV show later in the year“. On September 26, Apple booked the Royal Albert Hall for several days in December, in preparation for a possible live performance.

On this day, in two different press articles, it was explained that the idea to use the Royal Albert Hall was called off, but that the project to do a live TV show was still going ahead.

London’s Chalk Farm Roundhouse is now the likely venue for a Beatles live TV special or other public performance, Paul McCartney told the NME this week. The Royal Albert Hall – reported last week – is OUT because of booking and other problems.

Added Paul, unshaven after day and night recording on the forthcoming Beatles’ double LP: “What is probable is that before anything else, we will do our own TV show in which we’ll perform the numbers from the new album“. Mary Hopkin may take part and also people like Jackie Lomax and James Taylor.

It is now virtually absolutely definite that the Beatles will appear live again either by Christmas or early in the New Year.

BUT PAUL WISHES TO STRESS THAT NO DEFINITE ARRANGEMENTS HAVE YET BEEN MADE AND THAT A CONCERT OR OTHER SHOW – IF IT TAKES PLACE – COULD CONCEIVABLY BE AT ANY LONDON VENUE.

Plans are still in the discussion stage, and even the Beatles have not yet resolved details of the project.

From New Musical Express – October 12, 1968

A MYSTERY developed this week about the Beatles’ projected live concert appearances.

The Beatles want to play again before an audience. This was exclusively revealed in [Melody Maker] three weeks ago and a special concert before an invited audience, filmed for TV, was suggested as the likely outcome of their plans.

But a report last week said that the group had booked London’s Royal Albert Hall for a live concert in December. This report was firmly denied by press officer Tony Barrow, yet confirmed by Apple executive Jeremy Banks.

Tony Barrow said: “The Royal Albert Hall has definitely not been booked. The Beatles want to do some sort of live show but it is almost certain to be before a special audience of perhaps 500. The show would be filmed for TV and would require a more intimate venue than the Albert Hall. The group would probably prefer somewhere with
theatrical stage facilities.

But Banks said the report was true. “It’s possible they’ll do a concert there and it’s possible they won’t.” he said. The type of concert had not yet been worked out.

From Melody Maker – October 12, 1968
From New Musical Express – October 12, 1968
From New Musical Express – October 12, 1968
From Melody Maker – October 12, 1968

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 – The “Get Back / Let It Be” sessions started at Twickenham Film Studios.
  • January 4 – Melody Maker reported that the Beatles planned their first-ever “live” album, to be taped at the special live TV show. No more dates or potential venus were mentioned anymore.
  • January 19 – Melody Maker reported that the Beatles were rehearsing, and that a documentary film would be made from those sessions, in addition to the live album already mentioned.

Last updated on September 15, 2021

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