News emerged that the Beatles’ live TV show would be recorded in December 1968

Wednesday, November 6, 1968

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On this day, the Apple press office announced that The Beatles would play three successive nights and record a live TV show, from December 14 to 23, 1968. The news was reported by the music magazines New Musical Express and Melody Maker. The venue at this stage could be the London Roundhouse.

We’ll set one day when we’ll say, ‘This is the show,’ but we’ll do one day when we do a dress rehearsal and another rehearsal. We should do it about three times and, probably, the middle one will have the most for it. Then, see if there’s anyone around who can play piano or anything, and we’ll just get them up and we can have a gig.

John Lennon – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

The group will be playing tracks from their album, old rock’n’roll tunes and anything anything they feel like or can play. It’ll be informal and flexible.

Derek Taylor – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

BEATLES – THREE LIVE DECEMBER CONCERTS

THE BEATLES ARE TO GIVE THREE LIVE CONCERTS IN LONDON NEXT MONTH. MARY HOPKIN AND JACKIE LOMAX WILL ALSO APPEAR. VENUE FOR THE PERFORMANCES WILL BE LONDON’S CHALK FARM ROUNDHOUSE FOR THREE SUCCESSIVE NIGHTS STARTING DECEMBER 15 OR 16. THE SHOWS WILL BENEFIT CHARITY. AND A ONE-HOUR TV SPECTACULAR MAY BE BUILT AROUND THE SHOWS.

Announcing the Beatles’ decision immediately before presstime this week, Apple executive Jeremy Banks told the NME: “These concerts will be a mindbender! The Beatles’ new album is the incredible achievement of five months’ work – and they naturally plan to centre their appearances around these 30 tracks. Negotiations for the Roundhouse are at an early stage, but will be completed this week.

Plans for the Beatles to appear on stage live again – for the first time since the NME Poll Concert of 1966 – were exclusively revealed by the NME in September.

From the New Musical Express, November 9, 1968
From the New Musical Express, November 9, 1968

More details were given in the two magazines one week later, including the fact the concerts will be filmed, likely by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (who would indeed be the director of the “Let It Be” movie released in 1970).

The Beatles’ live appearance at London’s Roundhouse will consist of a run-through, a dress rehearsal and a final show, each before a special invited audience.

The shows will take place between December 14 and 21 and the final date has not been finalised.

Press officer Derek Taylor told [Melody Maker]: “The group will be playing tracks from their album, old rock and roll tunes, anything they feel like or can play. It’ll be informal and flexible“.

The audiences for the three appearances will be specially invited but no details have been decided about how tickets will be distributed.

From Melody Maker – November 16, 1968
From Melody Maker – November 16, 1968

4,500 SEATS AT THE BEATLES’ CONCERTS

At presstime this week the Beatles had taken no further decision on details of their three concerts at London’s Roundhouse starting. December 15 or 16 — a world exclusive in last week’s NME. The shows will definitely take place at the venue — although there will be a total of only about 4,500 seats available — but seat prices and the charity involved have not been finalised. George Harrison has not renewed his three-year contract with Northern Songs. Former British Railways chief Lord Beeching has been approached by the Beatles to run their Apple Organisation.

Apple Press Officer Derek Taylor confirmed this week that the Beatles’ concerts will be filmed. Director will probably be Michael Lindsay-Hogg, formerly of “RSG”, who produced the recent Beatle clip for “Hey Jude.”

Taylor added that in connection with the concerts the Roundhouse bad been booked from December 14-23.

Lord Beeching has alreddy had talks with John Lennon and Paul McCartney at Apple’s London offices, and it is thought they would like to use his business experience to streamline their company activities. However he said this week that if he agrees to join Apple it would be on a part-time basis only.

From New Musical Express, November 16, 1968
From New Musical Express – November 16, 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 26, 2021

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