It's known as the Terrassa Concert, in which the Beatles played live for the last time. But today, too, they could remember the fifty years of the day when Londoners looked up and endured torture with a smile on their faces.
The Beatles crossed a great internal crisis. Their paths were beginning to separate. The relationship between them was tense. Success (and growth) was happening invoice. The internal balances had evaporated and it seemed that, at that time, it was impossible to recover them. At the beginning of 1969 they were in the studies of Twinckeham to record a new disc. Once again they wanted to turn the ship. They were never stagnating. If they came from the experiment and the variety of the Album Banc, edited a few months earlier, now they wanted to go back to the roots.
The Beatles' story could be explained by focusing on the group's struggle to change course, for move away from what they had masteredr. The Beatles had become studio artists. And against this they wanted to fight. They had proposed demonstrating that they could play without all the paraphernalia with which George Martin, his producer, translated his wishes.
For some they were the greatest artists on the planet. They could also rock, make direct songs, without the magic of the studio. like the Rolling Stones or how The Who. More direct songs in which its ability as interpreters was exposed, that there was no chance of camouflage after effects, inventions and discoveries. A shooting team would follow all its steps to register in a documentary the process of creating the new album. The project (the disc and the film) was entitled Get Back, the song composed by Paul, which would be the center of the LP.
The coexistence between the four years was making it impossible. In those first days of January, everything would explode. Ringo was worried about his new career as an actor; the group had pledged to finish recording in mid-February so that he would arrive on time for the shooting of a new movie. George did not feel recognized by his companions; He believed that the time of contempt and postponement had ended and demanded that a larger number of his songs be added to the albums and share creative decisions with duo Lennon-McCartney. John fought against a double dependence: on heroin and his new love, Yoko Ono. While Paul, already in partnership with Linda Eastman, tried to move forward with the recording, becoming the leader with a somewhat authoritative style. Working conditions attacked the unstable balance of the group. Recorded in another studio, with the members of the documentary filming crew around (and the cameras burning up all the time), in office hours (not in long nights as in their latest albums) and with John always hooked in Yoko. All bad ideas, all triggers of the disaster that occurred on January 10. After a discussion with Paul, tired of his orders and considered as a cast actor, George Harrison took his guitar (a Fender Rosewood Telecaster that was created especially for him: the guitar occupied a airplane seat on his transatlantic trip to be sheltered) and he retired from the studio. When he arrived home, that afternoon, he composed Wah Wah that would integrate triple All things must pass, His first solo album. There, in a few lines, he describes his feelings about his situation in the band, his frustration and the desire to continue on his own: You do not need the Beatles to be happy.
John and Yoko, unhurried, went to George's house at breakfast to try to convince him to return. After a few days he did it but imposed his conditions. He brought with himself to Billy Preston that during these sessions he would be the "fifth beatle" with his keyboards and demanded that his creative space be respected. The cimbronazo of George's departure (remembering that during the recording of the previous album, Ringo was the one who had made a type and had played for a few days), the incorporation of Preston and the decision to go to record studios at the Apple building, the band's company, they managed to twist the course. The songs began to emerge, the laughter came back and the other three seemed ready to obviate that Yoko remained all the time attached to John as an incestuous Siamese.
The great end of the documentary was never discussed. It would be the group playing several live songs. But where was this action to be? The biggest group in the world could not touch anywhere. The frame had to be at the height of them. Someone thought about a great London theater, but only with the exclusive public and the best recording conditions; one said that the best option seemed the Sahara Desert: they lost 4 in the immensity; someone proposed that the framework be the Pyramids of Giza; Another suggested that they should be presented in an ancient Roman coliseum located in Tunisia. But At the last minute it was decided that this action would take place on the terrace of the Apple building. The idea is attributed to John (this slogan Billy Preston in his memoirs), the director of the documentary Michael Lindsay Hogg and until Glyn Jons, the sound engineer, awarded the merit. The truth is that several factors came together because the last Beatles live concert had been on the building's terrace located at number 3 on Savile Street. The relationships between the members of the group, as we have seen, were not the best and facing a long journey could endanger the progress made; time constraints and the budget was exceeded; John's disinterest assured his presence if he only had to climb from the basement, where he was recording studio on the roof. But there is another factor that is not always taken into account. Less than two months earlier, on the terrace of a Manhattan hotel, the Jefferson Airplane group had done the same. At 7.45 in the morning, a harangue of her singer, Grace Slick, woke up throughout the neighborhood and the group played at a very high volume for seven minutes. The recording of this performance was directed by Jean Luc Godard and one of his iconic scenes is that of the couple who pulls his head out of a window of the hotel, with the girl wrapped in a sheet , trying to understand what happened. Jefferson Airplane's performance was short because the police interrupted her immediately. Mostly, the Beatles played with this possibility and calculated the dramatic effect that the London police could have on their documentary.
When this noon on January 30, 1969, the four of Liverpool went to the terrace Two and a half years ago they did not play live. There was a lot of wind and less than six degrees. To fight the cold Ringo used a red leather pilot of his wife Maureen and John a brown Yoko skin cover. George was also covered with a skin while Paul preferred a three-piece dark suit. But beyond what they are dressed, what is seen in these images in which each of the four is already what would be the next years. There are four individualities. They are no longer uniformed, with their hair trimmed equally or with regular mustaches. On this terrace, the few testimonials are witnessing a Beatles slit. John has his Lennon glasses, round frame; Ringo the wild hair and the lightness that characterizes him; Paul is more formal with his jacket and beard abundant, attentive to the movement of others; George does not have protagonism (he is not the main voice in any of the subjects) but he is a luminous and somewhat ethereal presence with his guitar. The personalities were settled, individualities were imposed and the group breaks down. The four are ready to start their own path. It is inexorable. In the filming a little tension is perceived on their faces before beginning. Paul jumps into place to enter heat. Around them, only the filming team, their women, and Apple executives and collaborators.
The performance lasted just over forty minutes but in the film they were kept 22 minutes (the rest are taken from the same songs). Director Michael Lindsay Hogg did an extraordinary job. He arranged five bedrooms on the terrace, Another on a highland roof, some more on the street and another, hidden, at the reception of the building.
Stop us a second in the filmmaker who also has a great story to tell: he made his career as a director of musical films (he also worked with the Rolling Stones and with The Who) and was one of the pioneers of video clips . But what interests us is his affiliation. This ability, perhaps, has been genetic. It is believed that his father was Orson Welles although he could never prove himself with a DNA study that propelled Welles' daughter.
The Beatles started with Get Back. They sound oiled and fit. There are no pífies and with the breakthrough of the interpretation they let go. They enjoy Although it has been rumored that this song, one of his verses, was another reason for bowel disputes. The legend maintains that John became annoyed when Paul, in the study, watched fixing to Yoko every time that he intoned the line: "Get back to where you belonged 11"(Return to the place where you ever belonged). Then they sang Do not let me down, A very beautiful song in which John goes directly to Yoko, cries for his help and declares that it is the first time in the life in which he is in love. The third one was I got a feeling, A topic that, as in the early days, was truly shared in his authorship by Lennon and McCartney: to unite fragments of two songs that they had as this cathedral of the contemporary song that is A day in a life; One after 909 It was a song they had composed since 1963; The last new topic was Dig a pony, John's nonsense run masterfully. The presentation (as it was registered in the film) closed again with Get back.
The cameras that did not point to the musicians allowed to give dramatic carnage to these 22 musical minutes. It's not that registration of the historic presentation of them 4 was not enough. But the director did a great job in capturing the reaction of the passers-by when they hear the first notes of noise and discover that they are watching a Beatles recital. We see that the terraces are populated (in a memorable plan, an elderly man with a strong hat and pipe between his lips raises a scale of fires to see more closely the musicians), that On the paths people crowd and traffic collapses within minutes. about I got a feelingThe director leaves some testimonies of the passers-by. Most are fascinated by the historic occasion, some suggest that this music has more apt places to be played and an elderly man scratches out: "I want this damned noise to stop once. It's an absolute misfortune! " . Not even the Beatles reached unanimity.
The great dramatic trick is that of the police presence, Very likely inspired by the Jefferson Airplane episode in New York. The decision to have cameras in the street and in the lobby had its cinematographic discredit. In the first issue we observe some troubled bobbies in the street. As the action progresses, they come in more, talk to each other, plan an action.
Until the last song is entered into the building and interrupted the performance. This police presence is disturbing and is very well explained. But the facts would have been far from being as they were registered in the film. The show lasted 43 minutes which means the police let the Beatles make their number a good time. Some witnesses say, too, that because it was the most famous band in the world to one of its most direct collaborators, it was advised that the police would take ten minutes before it broke (to put it somehow) in the building. They say that in these ten minutes, records of how many times the chains of the bathrooms in the building were switched on: when the police entered no prohibited substance it subsisted.
The disc and the documentary were red-baptize like Let it be. This was the last album to appear on the Beatles a few days after the announcement of its dissolution as a group. But the last one to be recorded was the master Abbey Road, Another masterpiece. After the appearance of Abbey Road The tapes of the sessions of the beginning of 1969 were put into the hands of Phil Spector, the record producer who searched his "sound wall" in Paul's dislikes recordings.
Fifty years ago the Beatles finally presented themselves live. On a terrace, for a few passers who could only listen to them; a staging to be able to close his film and, at the same time, a tangible, undeniable and vital proof that chemistry between the four was invincible and, undoubtedly, its destiny was immortality.