First mentions in the press of the “Get Back / Let It Be” sessions

Sunday, January 19, 1969

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A ONE-HOUR documentary film of the Beatles in the recording studios is currently being shot at London’s Twickenham Studios, where the Beatles are rehearsing the songs for their projected live concerts.

Dennis O’Dell, former head of Apple Films, is producing the film for Apple. He is shooting film of the Beatles writing songs, rehearsing them, and recording them, as well as casual dialogue and action in the studios.

It’s never been done before,” said press officer Derek Taylor. “There’s never been a film of the Beatles actually at work. It’ll all be there — the work, the breaks, everything. When the shooting is finished and the thing’s been edited it will be offered for sale to world TV companies.

The Beatles have completed work on eight new songs for their “TV concert,” said Taylor.

He also said that the concerts would definitely not take place on Saturday (18) as originally planned. “The only I can say now is that it will take place, perhaps abroad.

A recent rumour was that the concerts would take place at a Roman amphitheatre in North Africa. This was denied at the time, but this week Taylor said: “There may now be some truth in this. It’s an idea around at the moment, to do the shows abroad and take the fans along. It would certainly be expensive, but an idea is to rum some form of competition and take the winners.

He said thet Apple’s idea was to create an album, and a documentary film out of the live appearances.

He also said that they had shelved plans to release an EP of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine music.

From Melody Maker, January 18, 1969
From Melody Maker, January 18, 1969

As the NME closed for Press this week an Apple spokesman said there was now “no date and no place” fixed for the Beatles’ TV concert, which had been expected to take place tomorrow (Saturday).

The proposed event was first announced last autumn, and was originally to have been staged on December 16 at London’s Roundhouse. There were to have been three shows.

Then it was decided to produce a TV special on January 18 and the Beatles spent a week rehearsing new songs at a Twickenham Studio.

It is now thought that they believe themselves not ready to do the show – which was to also have been recorded as The Beatles’ first live album – and will make new plans at a later date.

From New Musical Express, January 18, 1969
From New Musical Express, January 18, 1969

The Beatles are still rehearsing new songs for their next album, but plans for a public or TV concert seem to be growing dimmer. More definite is a full-length TV documentary, which has been produced by Dennis O’Dell during the group’s rehearsals. There is sufficient material for the film to last one hour and, when completed, it will be offered to the major companies for consideration.

From New Musical Express, January 25, 1969
From New Musical Express, January 25, 1969

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 17, 2021

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