Photo shoot of the “Get Back” LP album

Tuesday, May 13, 1969

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Early May 1969, photographer Angus McBean and The Beatles returned to the EMI House, in Manchester Square, London, to recreate the cover photo from the “Please Please Me” LP for their upcoming LP – the aborted “Get Back“.

In 1963 I asked John Lennon how long they would stay as a group, and he said, “Oh, about six years, I suppose – whoever heard of a bald Beatle?” Well, it was just six years later that I was asked to repeat the shot with The Beatles as they now looked – very hairy indeed.

Angus McBean – From “And In The End” by Ken McNab

Unfortunately, they realized that EMI had constructed a new porch preventing the photographer to use the exact same angle as on the original photo.

(In 1963) I asked John Lennon how long they would stay as a group, and he said, “Oh, about six years, I suppose – who ever heard of a bald Beatle?”. Well, it was just six years later that I was asked to repeat the shot with the Beatles as they now looked – very hairy indeed. When I got there I couldn’t retake the shot; a new porch had been built and I couldn’t get into the same position. However, EMI asked if I could come back in a week. Meanwhile, the whole new porch was pulled down and we tried again. Ringo Starr was so late that the staff of EMI was streaming down the stairs. I got the camera fixed up and John, fascinated by photography, came and lay down beside me to look at my view-finder. I can still hear the screams of the EMI girls as the realized who they were stepping over to get out the door!

Angus McBean – Quoted in The Daily Beatle

On May 13, 1969, once the porch was temporarily pulled down, Angus McBean and The Beatles returned to EMI House, to take the now well-known photograph.

From The Daily Beatle (webgrafikk.com):

The first version of the Get Back-Album was ready for release at the end of May 1969. Promotional copies were made, including a full cover art. It was intended for release in July 1969 under the title of GET BACK with Don’t Let Me Down and 9 other songs.

In July 1969 the album was rescheduled for September 1969, to appear together with the planned TV special and theatrical film about the recording of the album.

In September the album was rescheduled again for December, because The Beatles had recorded “Abbey Road” in the meanwhile and wanted to release that album instead of Get Back, in which no member of the Beatles was really interested anymore.

As time went on, the film about Get Back was completed and it became obvious, that there were some recordings in the film, that weren’t featured on the album. So the already completed album was shelved again and on January 5, 1970, Glyn Johns compiled a second version for the Get Back album. The cover art wasn’t changed, only the title was altered, due to the fact that ‘Let It Be’ was planned to be the next single.

The most final we got was going back to EMI in Manchester Square and taking that photo. And we all felt spooky. This is full circle. We’ve started and ended.

Paul McCartney – Interview with Paul du Noyer

If the “Get Back” LP was not to be, the recreation of the “Please Please Me” cover photo was not lost, as it was used on the compilation “1967-1970“, also known as the Blue Album, released in 1973.

In 2021, to serve as the poster of “The Beatles – Get Back” film by Peter Jackson, the original “Please Please Me” cover photo and its recreation were blended together.

Early May 1969: First attempt. Photo: Angus McBean. From The two “Get Back” photo sessions – The Daily Beatle (webgrafikk.com)
13 May 1969: Second attempt. Photo: Angus McBean. From Beatles Tours London on Twitter: “EMI House, London photo sessions 1963 and 1969 #TheBeatles #sixties #1960s #sixtiesmusic #sixtiesalbums #classicalbums #sixtiesstyle #sixtieslondon #emi #parlophone #beatleslondon https://t.co/ZBs1Fpq9kR” / Twitter
From The Beatles Anthology book

Cover photo of the compilation “1967-1970
Poster of 2021 “The Beatles – Get Back” film by Peter Jackson

The “Get Back” timeline

Last updated on January 15, 2022

Going further


The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

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We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

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