The Historic Beatles Moment That Almost Didn’t Happen: “Yeah, Not Today”

Jan. 30, 1969 was the end of an era. Rock icons The Beatles gathered on the rooftop of Apple Corps — the multimedia company they founded — and treated bewildered Londoners to performances of their biggest hits. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr played for 42 minutes before the police shut them down. The crowds congregated in the streets had no idea they were witnessing the Beatles’ final public performance. The rooftop set has since been immortalized in the 1970 documentary Let It Be and the 2021 documentary series Get Back. However, as it turns out, one of the most significant moments in music history almost never happened.

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Why The Beatles Almost Never Played Apple Corps

A restored version of Let It Be premiered Tuesday (May 7) ahead of its Disney+ debut the next day. During a press event, producer Jonathan Clyde explained how the Brits’ iconic gig nearly never got off the ground.

According to Michael Lindsey-Hogg, who directed the 1970 original, the Fab Four had doubts about performing right up until the eleventh hour.

“They’d set up the day before the gig, all the crew were ready, all the equipment was there and the band were like, ‘Yeah, not today,'” Clyde said.

[RELATED: 3 Times The Beatles Stirred Controversy in Their Careers]

Guardian columnist John Harris recalled that the band stood at the door to the roof. Wordlessly, they debated whether to go through with the performance. It was co-lead vocalist John Lennon’s voice that cut through the silence. “F*** it, let’s go do it,” he said.

And the rest was history.

Ringo Starr Says The Rooftop Concert Was the Only Joy in ‘Let It Be’

In a recent Associated Press interview, drummer Ringo Starr admitted to having mixed feelings about the restored documentary.

“[F]or me, [there was] not a lot of joy in it,” the 83-year-old Liverpool native said. “It was a point-of-view that the director [Lindsay-Hogg] had, and that was up to him.”

Even so, Starr couldn’t deny the gravity of the band’s rooftop gig. “But it’s great, because you’ll get another chance to see us on the roof,” he added. “I mean, we hadn’t played live [in] a couple of years, and we went up and just did it, ’cause that’s what we do.”

Featured image by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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