- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Let It Be (Limited Edition) LP.
- Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London
- Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK
More from year 1969
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Towards the end of 1968, The Beatles (mainly Paul McCartney) formed a project to get back in front of an audience.
Their last concert happened on August 29, 1966. In September 1968, they filmed a promotional clip, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, for their last single, “Hey Jude“, and were joined by 300 people. They really enjoyed this experience, and Paul McCartney tried to motivate the three other Beatles to perform live again.
In early October 1968, Paul told the press that the band would soon play a live show for subsequent broadcast in a TV special.
The idea of singing live is much more appealing to us now – we are beginning to miss it. We will be doing a live TV show later in the year. I don’t know about a concert, but it might lead to that. I love the idea of playing again – and I know the others feel the same way.Paul McCartney – Interview with Melody Maker, September 14, 1968
The following month, Apple Corps announced that the Beatles had booked the Roundhouse in north London for 12–23 December and would perform at least one concert during that time. When this plan came to nothing, Denis O’Dell, the head of Apple Films, suggested that the group be filmed rehearsing at Twickenham Film Studios, in preparation for their return to live performance, since he had booked studio space there to shoot “The Magic Christian“.
The initial plan was that the rehearsal footage would be edited into a short TV documentary promoting the main TV special, in which the Beatles would perform a public concert or perhaps two concerts. Michael Lindsay-Hogg had agreed to direct the project. The project’s timeline was dictated by George Harrison being away in the United States until Christmas and Ringo Starr’s commitment to begin filming his role in “The Magic Christian” in February 1969.
The band intended to perform only new material and were therefore under pressure to finish writing an album’s worth of songs. Although the concert venue was not established when rehearsals began on January 2, 1969, it was decided that the 18th would serve as a potential dress rehearsal day; the 19th and 20th would serve as concert dates. From Wikipedia:
The Twickenham rehearsals quickly disintegrated into what Apple Corps executive Peter Brown characterised as a “hostile lethargy”. Lennon and his partner Yoko Ono had descended into heroin addiction after their arrest on drugs charges in October and Ono’s subsequent miscarriage. Unable to supply his quota of new songs for the project, Lennon maintained an icy distance from his bandmates and scorned McCartney’s ideas. By contrast, Harrison was inspired by his recent stay in the US; there, he enjoyed jamming with musicians in Los Angeles and experienced a musical camaraderie and creative freedom with Bob Dylan and the Band in upstate New York that was lacking in the Beatles. Harrison presented several new songs for consideration at Twickenham, some of which were dismissed by Lennon and McCartney. McCartney’s attempts to focus the band on their objective were construed as overly controlling, particularly by Harrison.
The atmosphere in the film studios, the early start each day, and the intrusive cameras and microphones of Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s film crew combined to heighten the Beatles’ discontent. When the band rehearsed McCartney’s “Two of Us” on 6 January, a terse exchange ensued between McCartney and Harrison about the latter’s lead guitar part. During lunch on 10 January, Lennon and Harrison had a heated disagreement in which Harrison berated Lennon for his lack of engagement with the project. Harrison was also angry with Lennon for telling a music journalist that the Beatles’ Apple organisation was in financial ruin. According to journalist Michael Housego’s report in the Daily Sketch, Harrison and Lennon’s exchange descended into violence with the pair allegedly throwing punches at each other. Harrison denied this in a 16 January interview for the Daily Express, saying: “There was no punch-up. We just fell out.” After lunch on 10 January, Harrison announced that he was leaving the band and told the others, “See you round the clubs.” Starr attributed Harrison’s exit to McCartney “dominating” him.
During a meeting on 15 January, the band agreed to Harrison’s terms for returning to the group: they would abandon the plan to stage a public concert and relocate from the cavernous soundstage at Twickenham to their Apple Studio, where they would be filmed recording a new album, using the material they had gathered at this point. The band’s return to work was delayed due to the poor quality of the recording and mixing equipment designed by Lennon’s friend “Magic” Alex Mardas and installed at Apple Studio, in the basement of the Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row. Producer George Martin, who had been only a marginal presence at Twickenham, arranged to borrow two four-track recorders from EMI Studios; he and audio engineer Glyn Johns then prepared the facility for the Beatles’ use. Sessions commenced at Apple on 21 January and ended on 31 January, along with filming.
The atmosphere in the band was markedly improved during the sessions. To help achieve this, Harrison invited keyboardist Billy Preston to participate, after meeting him outside the Apple building on 22 January. Preston contributed to most of the recording and also became an Apple Records artist. McCartney and Lindsay-Hogg continued to hope for a public concert by the Beatles to cap the project.
The two of them [John and Yoko] were on heroin, and this was a fairly big shocker for us because we all thought we were far-out boys, but we kind of understood that we’d never get quite that far out.Paul McCartney – From “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles, 1997
On January 30, 1969, The Beatles with Billy Preston performed their final live performance on the top of the Apple headquarters, at 3 Savile Row, London.
We started Let It Be in January 1969 at Twickenham Studios, under the working title Get Back. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was the director. The idea was that you’d see The Beatles rehearsing, jamming, getting their act together and then finally performing somewhere in a big end-of-show concert. We would show how the whole process worked. I remember I had an idea for the final scene which would be a massive tracking shot, forever and ever, and then we’d be in the concert.Paul McCartney – from the Beatles Anthology book
The original idea was to go on an ocean liner and get away from the world,- you would see us rehearsing and then you’d finally see the pay-off. But we ended up in Twickenham. I think it was a safer situation for the director and everybody. Nobody was that keen on going on an ocean liner anyway. It was getting a bit fraught between us at that point, because we’d been together a long time and cracks were beginning to appear.Paul McCartney – from the Beatles Anthology book
We had a meeting in Apple, and I said I think it’s time we did something. And everybody at that time was very happy to not really work, because they were enjoying the rewards of their success. The guys were all rich, living in nice country homes out in Weybridge and Esher, they were all married. I wasn’t. So I was like, hey guys! C’mon! We can’t sit around, we’ve gotta do something, we’re The Beatles!Paul McCartney – From “The Paul McCartney World Tour” tour book, 1989
I was the motivator. I’d say, Why don’t we make a film, it’d be great. And the others would go, Why? I remember John saying, I get it, he wants a job. I said, Yeah, that’s it, we ought to work. So I slightly badgered them into it. At one point we were going to take a boat, an ocean liner, and make up a story about that, play in the ballroom or something. But the final idea was to go down to Twickenham to a big studio, rehearse and rehearse, film the rehearsals and have this beautifully filmed concert at the end, and you’d seen it all develop. By that time I suppose tempers were starting to fray, they weren’t all that keen to do it, some of the time I think they’d be going, Who does he think he is? Beethoven? But I was just genuinely enthusiastic.
In the middle of that the group started to break up, virtually, and it became the film of the break up. Me and John have some fairly tense moments on film, which looking back I think is good really. Normally You wouldn’t allow it, nobody wants to wash their dirty linen in public. We got an Oscar for the music, it’s my only Oscar, I amaze my friends with it.Paul McCartney – From “The Paul McCartney World Tour” tour book, 1989
It simply became very difficult to write with Yoko sitting there. If I had to think of a line, I got very nervous. I might want to say something like ‘I love you, girl’, but with Yoko watching, I always felt that I had to come out with something clever and avant garde. She would probably have loved the simple stuff, but I was scared. I’m not blaming her; I’m blaming me. You can’t blame John for falling in love with Yoko any more than you can blame me for falling in love with Linda. I told him on the phone the other day that, at the beginning of last year, I was annoyed with him. I was jealous because of Yoko and afraid about the break-up of a great musical partnership. It’s taken me a year to realise that they were in love, just like Linda and me.Paul McCartney – About the January 1969 “Get Back” sessions – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
George Martin: They were going through a revolutionary period at that time, and were trying to think of something new — and they wanted a new engineer. They have Geoff Emerick, so Glyn Johns came in. I guess basically they wanted a new producer, but they never actually said that to me. So I was still there.
At the same time, they did actually come up with a very good idea, which I thought was well worth working on.
They wanted to write a complete album and rehearse it and then perform it in front of a large audience. A live album of new material. Most people who did a live album would be rehashing old stuff, but they thought.- ‘Let’s have a completely new album that nobody has ever heard, and put it in front of an audience.’
It was a great idea, except that you couldn’t have an open-air concert in England in February and there was no venue available that would take The Beatles and their crowds. So we then started thinking about staging it abroad,- we thought about doing it in California, but that would have been too expensive. We thought of going to Marrakech and importing people — but that fell through. In the end, because there was so much vacillation, there was nowhere left at all. So they started rehearsing down in Twickenham Film Studios, and I went along with them.
But there was a lot of dissension and lack of steering. Really, they were rudderless at this time. They didn’t like each other too much and were fighting amongst themselves.George Martin – from the Beatles Anthology book
George Martin: John became very druggy at that stage, and he knew how opposed I was to that. He ignored the others as well. On Let It Be I wasn’t allowed to make the record that I wanted to, because John said they didn’t want any ‘producer crap’. He said it was going to be an honest record for a change. He said: “We’re not going to have any overdubbing, no editing, no messing about with tape cuttings. We’re going to go in there and perform like a band, and you’ll record it.” I said: “Okay, fine.” We started and, of course, we never got anything really right.Quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
George Martin: We’d do take after take after take – and then John would be asking whether Take 67 was better than Take 39. I’d say: “John, I honestly don’t know.” “You’re no fucking good then, are you?” he’d say. That was the general atmosphere.George Martin
John Lennon: In a nutshell, Paul wanted to make – it was time for another Beatle movie or something, and Paul wanted us to go on the road or do something. As usual, George and I were going, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do it, fuck,’ and all that. He set it up and there was all discussions about where to go and all that. I would just tag along and I had Yoko by then. I didn’t even give a shit about anything. I was stoned all the time, too, on H etc. And I just didn’t give a shit. And nobody did, you know…
Paul had this idea that we were going to rehearse or… see it all was more like Simon and Garfunkel, like looking for perfection all the time. And so he has these ideas that we’ll rehearse and then make the album. And of course we’re lazy fuckers and we’ve been playing for twenty years, for fuck’s sake, we’re grown men, we’re not going to sit around rehearsing. I’m not, anyway. And we couldn’t get into it. And we put down a few tracks and nobody was in it at all. It was a dreadful, dreadful feeling in Twickenham Studio, and being filmed all the time. I just wanted them to go away, and we’d be there, eight in the morning. You couldn’t make music at eight in the morning or ten or whatever it was, in a strange place with people filming you and colored lights.John Lennon – from “Lennon Remembers” by Jann S Wenner, 1970
John Lennon: We couldn’t play the game any more. We couldn’t do it any more. It came to the point where it was no longer creating magic. And the camera, being in the room with us, sort of made us aware that it was a phony situation.Quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
We got fed up being sidemen for Paul. And the camera work was set up to show Paul and not show anybody else. That’s how I felt about it.John Lennon – Quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
George Harrison: After the White Album, I worked on an album with Jackie Lomax and I spent a long time in the States and I had a good time working with all these different musicians and different people. Then, I hung out at Woodstock for thanksgiving and, you know, I felt really good at the time. I got back to England for Christmas and then, on January first [sic], we were to start on the thing, which turned into Let It Be. And straight away again, it was just weird vibes. You know, I found I was starting to be able to enjoy being a musician, but the moment I got back with The Beatles, it was just too difficult. There were just too many limitations based upon our being together for so long. Everybody was, sort of, pigeonholed. It was frustrating.George Harrison – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
I thought, okay, it’s a new year and a new approach. But it soon became apparent that it wasn’t anything new, it was just gonna be painful again. For me to come back into the winter of discontent with The Beatles… it was very unhealthy and unhappy.George Harrison – Quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
Neil Aspinall: I’m not sure whether everybody was behind the idea of going to Twickenham. They’d decided to film whatever they were doing. It was the producer Denis O’Dell’s idea that, if you were going to film it, you needed space for cameras. They had used Twickenham Film Studios before for Help! and A Hard Day’s Night, so they ended up out there.
Twickenham was very cold in January, and a strange place to be making an album. It was like half recording and half filming. It didn’t really feel right. Nobody was that comfortable out there. It was a big sound stage in a film studio — and they were working on portable equipment because it wasn’t equipped as a recording studio. Trying to work creatively, with every single moment of what they were doing being filmed, was not ideal for making a record.Neil Aspinall – from the Beatles Anthology book
Engineer/producer Glyn Johns: It was funny actually. I got a phone call from someone with a Liverpudlian voice and I thought it was Mick Jagger taking the piss. Anyway, it was Paul McCartney. And you don’t turn down Paul McCartney. The idea was something like [Bob Dylan and The Band’s] The Basement Tapes, to show what they were really like. I’d worked with everyone and their mother by then, so I was quite used to being around people who were famous. But when I got the call, to walk in and be privy to those guys sitting around, doing what they did, and to be invited in, was pretty astonishing. I didn’t know them. I was the same as every other punter on the planet, who saw them as these extraordinary icons of marvellousness.
And although they could hardly be normal people, because of what their success had done to them, I was witnessing them being normal to each other. Which no one else had got to see, and which nobody really had a clue about. And so my concept of the record was: how fantastic to have a record of them playing live, sitting around mocking each other, just having a laugh. It was very weird. But George Martin, being the gentleman that he is, he realised that I had been compromised in a way, and he saw fit to put me at ease about the situation. He took me to lunch, and he said, “You’re not to worry about a thing.” I was feeling really awkward about the whole thing, and he was completely at ease about the situation. Because he is confident of his own abilities.Glyn Johns – From “And In The End” by Ken McNab, and quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
Denis O’Dell, the film’s producer: I am producing the film for Apple. I am shooting film of The Beatles writing songs, rehearsing them and recording them, as well as casual dialogue and action in the studios.Denis O’Dell – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
Derek Taylor: It’s never been done before. There’s never been a film of The Beatles actually at work. It’ll all be there, the works, the breaks, everything. When the shooting is finished, and the thing has been edited, it will be offered for sale to world TV companies.Derek Taylor – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
From The Beatles Monthly Book, January 1969, N°66:
As this issue of Beatles Monthly went to print – earlier than usual because of the Christmas holiday week – Apple and The Beatles had yet to announce new details for the making of The Beatles’ much-publicised TV show to be videotaped in colour before an invited audience.
Camera and technical crews have been booked for the week of January 17-24 but Paul’s return from Portugal was awaited before a final decision on venue could be taken.
Rumours that the programme might be made in Liverpool instead of London have been denied. So has the idea that Andy Williams, who lunched with Apple executives a few weeks ago, might make a guest appearance in the show.
From The Beatles Monthly Book, March 1969:
BETWEEN the release dates of Sgt. Pepper and The Beatles there was a gap of seventeen months. Now, less than seventeen WEEKS after The Beatles’ first Apple LP, the two-record album set, I’m happy to tell you that twelve completely new tracks have been finished. Before the end of March, Apple hope to announce an issue date for The Beatles’ first 1969 LP. Since no more than two or three final recordings remain to be done, there’s a fair chance that the release will be fixed for April or May at the latest.
During sessions for The Beatles I guess the fellows produced an average of one and a half new recordings each week. In January and February, during two fortnights of round-the-clock sessions they’ve put on tape at least three titles a week. There’s 1969 Beatle productivity for you!
But that’s really the END of my story rather than the start. So let’s get things in the right order. In two important ways the latest recording sessions have differed from all the others which we’ve had over the last few years.
Ever since Revolver, The Beatles have chosen to work at nights, reaching the studios at anytime between seven and ten in the evening, knocking off when most people are thumping their alarm clocks and thinking
about getting up for breakfast. This time the routine was changed. Sessions started with breakfast in the studios at ten or eleven in the morning. Many finished by teatime in the afternoon, others went on through until ten at night.
Even if I think way back to pre-Revolver days I can’t remember more than a handful of Beatles sessions which took place before noon; in 1963 the earliest start-time used to be half past two!
The other big change has been the amount of pre-session rehearsal time The Beatles have put in. The old idea was to go into the EMI Studios with half-written numbers and spend half the night getting everything together. Deciding on tempo, trying various combinations of backing sounds, working out vocal harmonies, writing whole new verses or chunks of tune. If you’re hiring EMI’s huge No. 2 studio for whole nights at a time that can become a pretty expensive way to prepare new material to record! In the first weeks of January all the writing, arranging and general rehearsal was put out of the way. Then The Beatles went into their own Apple studios in the basement of Number 3 (Savile Row, that is) with finished stuff ready to start putting down layer after layer of recorded sound on tape.
Mind you when rehearsals started on January 2 the basic idea of the whole project was different. You might think it was surprising that the fellows should want to plunge straight into making another LP right after Christmas when 30 new tracks had only just gone out on the November double-disc album. Well, the thinking behind it was this. They wanted to put something quite new before the public. The film clip they’d done for Hey Jude was such a success that The Beatles wanted to expand the same format of performing ‘live’ in front of an audience, letting the fans join in and get a bit of a party mood going, into a full-length TV show. An hour of Beatle numbers, one after another, no guest stars and very little filming done outside wherever the concert performance was to happen.
So the January work began in the film studios down at Twickenham with January 18 or thereabouts agreed upon for two or three ‘audience shows’ at which all the filming would be done.
At the same time everyone agreed it would be great to film all the rehearsal work too. Make a sort of ‘Beatles At Work’ documentary production on the side and quite apart from the TV Special, a film which could be saved and shown later, perhaps even 10 years later, to let people see what goes on, what’s to be seen and heard, when the Beatles start off to build up a new set of songs.
We went out looking at different places to hold the actual show. The Roundhouse in North London, for instance. By the New Year we hadn’t found a suitable venue so Twickenham Film Studios were made the home base as it were for preparatory work. We looked at an old flour mill on the Thames quite close to town. We considered a dozen other alternatives in London and in the provinces. The ideal place was impossible to find — somewhere good visually and good from the sound point of view, both equally important factors for the show we had in mind.
Michael Lindsay Hogg who had been brought in as show director suggested Africa. Certainly we wanted sunshine and if we had to do the fitming outdoors the British winter weather couldn’t be relied upon. Michael and producer Denis O’Dell knew an old Roman theatre on a shore in Tripoli which sounded just the thing. But that one had to be blown out too. On Monday, January 13, I was due to fly over to Africa to look at the Roman theatre. On Sunday, January 12, the fellows finally gave up all idea of doing the TV show. Here’s what happened.
If you read certain national newspapers at the time you may well have believed a load of rubbish about George having a punch-up with the others. It wasn’t like that at all. There WASN’T a fight, physical or verbal. There WEREN’T any tempers or shouting. I just couldn’t believe it when I saw the press afterwards. So, to set the record straight, here’s the truth behind George’s ‘walk out’ and the cancelling of the TV Special.
Of the four Paul was the most enthusiastic all along about doing the ‘live’ show. John would have gladly taken the whole production unit to Africa or America to find the right location. John and Ringo had mixed feelings about the plan, agreeing with Paul on a lot of the ideas but feeling this might not be the best way of making a 1969 Beatles TV film. George wasn’t keen at all. Ever since the last Beatles tour of America in the summer of 1966 he has considered ‘one night stands’ to be a thing of the past, a backward step for a group he believes should concentrate on perfecting recordings rather than churning out the same programme of too-familiar songs on stages here and abroad.
So on Friday at Twickenham George stated his case. Singing and playing together would always be fine with him and the last thing he was suggesting was any break-up of The Beatles. So that day, January 10, George didn’t want to stay at Twickenham rehearsing for a show he couldn’t believe in.
We were all having lunch when George came over – and said very quietly that he was going home. With that he went off, climbed into his car and headed for Esher.
Later he told a bunch of press people: ‘Look, we’re old enough and wise enough to be past all this punching-up rubbish. We’ve been through everything together for so long we don’t need that sort of row. We discuss things and we finish up agreeing or disagreeing and that’s the finish of it.’
So George’s departure made it impossible to continue with the original project. If there HAD been a real row the others might have gone ahead. But Beatles don’t work like that. If all four are not united on anything it’s dropped in favour of an alternative that everyone likes and wants to be enthusiastic about.
In this case the alternative that George was as happy as the rest about was to continue rehearsing the new stuff, finish writing all the new material which had been intended for the TV performance, but use it for an LP album instead. And to go on with filming all that work both at Twickenham and, later in the month, at the Apple recording studios when the album itself was being put on tape. One difference was that more than a dozen new songs would be needed instead of the initial eight planned for the TV show.
LP OUT IN SUMMER
So the result is that The Beatles will have their first 1969 album out before the summer. In addition they’ll be spending time in March and April looking at hundreds of hours of colour film shot at Twickenham and Apple, film that shows them working on the new numbers and includes lots of actual conversations between the fellows. From all this film will come a semi-documentary based on the making of an LP record. It will be available for showing on television later—both here at home and across the world in just the same way as the ‘live performance’ special might have been. It could even finish up as something just as suitable for cinema screening as for telly. And to go with the film and the LP, Apple are preparing a photobook from thousands of ‘still’ shots taken all through January and February.
Having tried to give a clear picture of what has been happening and what has NOT been happening WHATEVER you see in the papers, I’ll go right back to my diary entries for January 2, start of Twickenham fortnight.
Kevin Harrington and I set up all the equipment in the huge bare Stage One at the Film Studios. And they started filming us right there from the beginning. There was no scenery or anything, just the standard white background with lots of different colour lights playing on it as the setting. So that apart from capturing good sounds there would be good things for the camera to see.
At half eight that morning, between bites of breakfast, I’d telephoned round all four fellows to remind them it was getting up time and they were due at Twickenham by eleven. On that first day Paul was last to arrive — half an hour after noon! — having come by underground, then local train, then taxi from Hampton Court station. He’d meant to do the entire journey by public transport but, knowing he was late, he chickened out and caught a cab rather than wait at the bus stop!
During the weeks which followed he often used trains and buses to and from what amounted to a routine-hours five-day-working week!
Toast, cornflakes and tea were ready for each arrival on the open space of Stage One every morning. Beatles prefer to get where ever they’re going for the day and THEN start the day’s eating!
Kevin and I brought over all the food from the Studios canteen. For lunch they started off by using some new flats which have been built for film actors and actresses so that they can make themselves at home between ‘takes’ without leaving the studio area. That didn’t work because the food was cold by the time we served it so we block-booked a couple of big tables in the canteen and added a bottle or two of good wine to whatever was on the day’s menu! Of course we all know that canteen well. We’d worked there on A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and, more recently, on the Hey Jude TV film clips which were done on the same stage. So all the crews are old mates too.
During the first week at Twickenham it was Elvis’ birthday. The following day at lunch I reminded everyone that Elvis had just turned 34. Whereupon John stood up and toasted Elvis and the rest of us joined in!
One of the first new numbers the fellows got together was an up-tempo item of Paul’s called Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. If that title sounds familiar it’s because I mentioned it here in November as one of several numbers which were almost but not quite recorded before we finished ‘The Beatles’ album sessions. By the way, I play anvil on the finished version!
On Thursday, January 16, we finished at Twickenham and moved all our gear back into town. On Monday, January 20, we used the new Apple Studios in the West End for the first time. Actually Alex Mardas hadn’t put in our own studio equipment so EMI brought in an eight-track tape machine and console as a temporary measure. Alex started putting all the new equipment into the studio in the first week of February so that our most recent batch of sessions have made use of all his amazing gadgets!
The engineer for all these sessions at Apple has been Glyn Johns, a name you may well know for he’s got a great reputation and we were pleased we could get him. He’s done a lot of stuff with The Stones at the Olympic Studios, produced the Steve Miller Band and so forth. In fact he’s more of a producer than an engineer although, of course, we had our own producer, recording manager George Martin on hand for that side of things.
First new number to be completed at Apple was something called All I Want Is You. Another was Teddy Boy and, as I mentioned earlier, there was Maxwell’s Silver Hammer from the end of last year.
Although they’d had all the rehearsal time they needed at Twickenham and all their material was written and ready to be recorded, the fellows spent hours each day ‘limbering up’. Now that there aren’t regular concerts to keep them in musical and vocal trim, so to speak, they have fantastic jam sessions to get the singing and playing flowing free before they start putting things on tape. They just go wild and roar into Lawdy Miss Clawdy or any of the 10-year-old skiffle hits. Some day we really must release a record of just such a jam session and let you hear what goes on BEFORE The Beatles tape their hits! You should have heard the treatment they gave to Maggie May!
George had a pair of interesting presents to bring into the studio for the first sessions. One was a splendid Rosewood Telecaster guitar from Fender of America. The other was a Leslie Speaker from Eric Clapton. It’s a speaker with two revolving horns and a revolving drum. You can put a guitar or organ through it and with an organ it gives a terrific swirling effect.
The same Tuesday morning George decided to buy HIMSELF a third present and asked me to round up a complete collection of LP records by The Miracles for him.
Unlike previous times, The Beatles haven’t been using session musicians during the new series. The new idea is to bring in regulars instead, regulars from Apple-signed groups or particular individual musicians who will work with them frequently whenever they want an extra guitarist or an extra organist.
One very important guy in this line is Billy Preston, formerly organist with Little Richard and a mate of the fellows since Hamburg days. Billy was signed up as an Apple artist on January 31. Although he’s an American he’s worked quite a bit in Britain, was here with the Ray Charles Orchestra not too long ago and had his own colour telly show on BBC-2 a few Fridays back. So Billy has been a Fifth Beatle at most of the recent sessions. Watch out for his solo debut on Apple in March or April. Billy writes most of his own stuff, sings, dances and plays both organ and electric piano. George will be producing Billy’s first Apple single.
Billy’s first sit-in session with The Beatles was on Wednesday January 22 when he played electric piano.
During the first half of February Billy went back home to America for a brief tour of Texas but there weren’t many sessions while he was away and Billy was back in time for the latest recordings over the past ten days.
Meanwhile the cameras have kept on rolling at every single recording session so that there is colour film, candid sounds and shots, of every stage of the.album’s production.
One particular day’s work at the end of January caused quite a stir. To get something a bit different, an open-air sound, we shifted the session from the basement studio to the roof of 3 Savile Row! With a scaffolding platform for all the gear. You could hear the singing and playing right out across Regent Street and, according to one unofficial spokesman for Savile Row police station, the local constabulary’s switchboard was jammed with dozens of calls from puzzled and/or cross neighbours of Apple’s within minutes!
We’d have loved to get a helicopter shot to show both the fellows on the roof and the crowd in the street but the law won’t let you fly one over London and it was too late to borrow a balloon!
The roof idea came after we’d taken a breath of fresh air on the roof after lunch the previous Sunday. Anyway it’s certainly the first time The Beatles have recorded an album track on a roof in the middle of London!
While that was going on — at lunchtime on a Wednesday — we had film interviewers chatting to passers-by down below in the street. Some of these comments just HAVE to fit into the film when it’s all put together!
Around here I have to finish for this month because space has run out on me.Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°68, March 1969
Last updated on January 14, 2022
Jan 16, 1969
Jan 14, 1969
Jan 13, 1969
Jan 10, 1969
Jan 09, 1969
The definitive guide to the Get Back sessions, released in 1994 and updated in 2007. In the author's own words:
New, completely revised edition! This new volume isn t just a compilation of material from the 1994 book Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image (also later published as 'Get Back') and 'The 910's Guide To The Beatles Outtakes Part Two: The Complete Get Back Sessions' (2001). I've re-listened to the entire canon of available Get Back session tapes, come up with a bunch of new conclusions (and even a handful of new identifications!), and pretty much re-written half the book from scratch. In addition, great effort has been made to improve readability of the book. Songs have now been put into groups (generally by Nagra reel, or series of them), rather than describing each performance separately, as was done in the original. In every way, this is the book we wished we could have written in 1994.
As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the author's website