The “Get Back” documentary turns into the “Let It Be” film

Late October 1969

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Let It Be

1970 • For The Beatles • Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

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From the “Get Back” sessions held in January 1969, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg was so far trying to create a TV documentary.

Following the rough cut they had seen in July 1969, Allen Klein invited The Beatles and their wives to view a new edit of the “Let It Be” film. John Lennon and Yoko did not attend.

The film was now 100 minutes long. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr agreed it was fit for release. It’s around that time that the film received its final title – from “Get Back” to “Let It Be”.

At the dinner that followed the screened, Allen Klein told the three Beatles

On the same day that ATV bought the Beatles’ shareholding, Klein held another screening of the Get Back film. He invited the entire group and their wives, but Lennon and Ono did not attend. The movie now ran around 100 minutes, about half its original length, and McCartney, Harrison and Starkey agreed that it was fit to release. Klein claimed credit for suggesting that it should be retitled Let It Be, enabling the McCartney-penned song of that title to be issued as a single at the same time, alongside a soundtrack album. At dinner Klein told the three Beatles about another proposal, which Lennon had already approved: Apple Records should invite the American record producer Phil Spector to join its staff. The group had met Spector on several occasions in 1963 and 1964, and Harrison in particular was an admirer of his work. ‘They were all enthusiastic,’ Klein recalled.

From “You Never Give Me Your Money” by Peter Doggett

In November, Klein screened some of the footage in London for McCartney, Harrison, Starr, and their wives, and he sold them on the idea. Since the song “Get Back” had already been released as a single six months earlier, he suggested to McCartney that the film needed a new name, and they considered The Long and Winding Road before agreeing on Let It Be. Over dinner that evening Allen reminded Paul, George, and Ringo that UA was also entitled to the soundtrack album and said producer Phil Spector had unexpectedly come by ABKCO’s office in New York to pitch his services to the Beatles. Klein, at Eastman’s request, had had lunch in New York with another producer, Jim Guercio, best known for his work with Chicago, whom Eastman had represented. When Klein told Lennon of the two approaches, John wanted Spector. Now, over dinner, the others agreed to meet him as well. That dinner proved to be the last time Klein ever met face to face with McCartney.

From “Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll” by Fred Goodman

As Paul and Linda prepared to make the Klein invited the couple to attend a screening of Lindsay-Hogg’s Get Back footage, and they attended along with Harrison and Starr and their wives. In the months since he had first shared footage with Klein, Lindsay-Hogg had tidied up the documentary, focusing almost exclusively on the Beatles, as the manager had requested. After the latest screening had concluded, Klein wasted little time in selling the bandmates on the idea of releasing Lindsay-Hogg’s documentary in the new year—along with a soundtrack album—in order to fulfill their outstanding contract with United Artists. Given that the “Get Back” single was old news by this time, Klein suggested that they change the name of the film to reflect one of the documentary’s other standout cuts. The Long and Winding Road received strong consideration, but the Beatles settled on Let It Be. Before they went their separate ways that evening, Klein mentioned that he had recently met with Phil Spector in New York, and the celebrated American producer was interested in working with the Beatles. According to Klein, Lennon had already agreed to Spector’s involvement in the soundtrack LP. While McCartney may not have been sold on the idea yet, he readily agreed to meet with Spector to discuss the project further.

Womack, Kenneth. Solid State (p. 158). Cornell University Press. Kindle Edition.

Last updated on January 2, 2022

Going further

The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

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