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Let It Be (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Let It Be is a 1970 film about The Beatles rehearsing and recording songs for the album Let It Be in January 1969.

The original premise of the film was to show The Beatles 'live' in the studio, creating their next album (which would be a live album), followed by a concert. However, the band members had begun to drift apart, and the project documents some of the aspects leading to the band's eventual break-up.


The rooftop concert
The rooftop concert

The Beatles assembled at Twickenham Film Studios on January 2, 1969, accompanied by the film crew, and began recording. There were tensions and disagreements among The Beatles, and they disliked the conditions at the Twickenham studios and the working schedule. They started work in the morning rather than working late into the night as they had been accustomed to doing at Abbey Road Studios, where they usually recorded their songs.

George Harrison quit the sessions for a few days, although this is not documented in the film.[1] Eventually the band left Twickenham and went to their own new basement recording studio at Apple's headquarters in Savile Row, London; and Harrison brought in keyboardist Billy Preston to play electric piano/organ.[2]

The Let It Be film includes The Beatles performing finished versions of "Two of Us", "The Long and Winding Road", "Let It Be", "Get Back", "Don't Let Me Down", "I've Got a Feeling", "One After 909", and "Dig a Pony".[3][4]

The rooftop performance

The original concept for the film project called for the documentary to end with a live show, the first live public performance by the band since the end of their last tour, on August 29, 1966, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. However, agreeing on a format for the live show proved problematical. Paul McCartney suggested playing a small club, like the Beatles had in the early days. John Lennon suggested an overseas location such as Africa. Ringo Starr held out for staying home in England. George Harrison showed little enthusiasm for any live performance at all.

After failing to agree on any other venue, the band settled for an unannounced concert atop their own building, Apple's headquarters. The Beatles, accompanied by Preston, performed on January 30, 1969 - intercut in the film with interviews of some rather surprised Londoners near the Apple headquarters as the music blasts out from the roof. The performance and the film close with the police arriving and shutting the concert down. The rooftop concert has been a popular bootleg ever since.

Five Beatles' songs were played during the rooftop performance: "Get Back" (three times), "Don't Let Me Down" (twice), "I've Got a Feeling" (twice), "One After 909", and "Dig a Pony". (The Beatles also played a brief version of the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen", while second engineer Alan Parsons was changing tapes.)[3]

After the final song, McCartney is heard to say, "Thanks, Mo!" acknowledging the enthusiastic applause and cheering from Maureen Starkey. Then Lennon closes with the well-known remark, "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!"[3]

Songs in the Let It Be film

McCartney and Starr in Let It Be
McCartney and Starr in Let It Be

All songs credited as Lennon/McCartney, except where noted.

  • "Paul Piano Intro"
  • "Don't Let Me Down"
  • "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
  • "Two of Us"
  • "I've Got a Feeling"
  • "Oh! Darling"
  • "One After 909"
  • "Jazz Piano Song" (McCartney/Starkey)
  • "Across the Universe"
  • "Dig a Pony"
  • "Suzy Parker" (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey)
  • "I Me Mine" (Harrison)
  • "For You Blue" (Harrison)
  • "Bésame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez/Sunny Skylar)
  • "Octopus's Garden" (Starkey)
  • "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (Smokey Robinson)
  • "The Long and Winding Road"
  • "Shake Rattle and Roll" (Jesse Stone (under his working name Charles E. Calhoun))
  • "Kansas City" (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller)
  • "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" (Lloyd Price)
  • "Dig It"
  • "Let It Be"
  • "Get Back"

Other songs played during the Get Back sessions (but not featured in the Let It Be film) include: "Ain't She Sweet" (Milton Ager/Jack Yellen); "Love Me Do"; "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"; "All Things Must Pass" (Harrison); "Back Seat of My Car" (McCartney); "Child of Nature" (Lennon), which was late reworked to become "Jealous Guy"; "Every Night" (McCartney); "Gimme Some Truth" (Lennon); "Maybe I'm Amazed" (McCartney); "That Would Be Something" (McCartney); and "I Lost My Little Girl" (McCartney), which was the first song written by McCartney, when he was 14.[1][2][3][4][5]

Premiere and awards

The film premiered at the London Palladium on May 20, 1970; and The Beatles won an Oscar for Let It Be under the category 'Best Music, Original Song Score' and a 'Best Original Score' Grammy.[6]

Availability of the film

The film is out of circulation after being released on VHS video and RCA SelectaVision videodisc in the early 1980s. These copies were considerably poorer quality than the original theatrical release of the film due to rough conversion from 8-millimetre and 16-millimetre prints.


  1. ^ a b The Twickenham Sessions. The Get Back Rehearsals. Retrieved on October 29, 2006.
  2. ^ a b The Apple Sessions. The Get Back Rehearsals. Retrieved on October 29, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d The Rooftop Concert. The Get Back Rehearsals. Retrieved on October 29, 2006.
  4. ^ a b The Apple Studio Performance. The Get Back Rehearsals. Retrieved on October 29, 2006.
  5. ^ Watch the Lost Beatles. NPR's Online Music Show. Retrieved on October 29, 2006.
  6. ^ Awards for Let It Be. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on October 29, 2006.

External links

  • Let It Be at the Internet Movie Database

Further reading

  • Get Back: The Unauthorized Chronicle of the Beatles "Let it Be" Disaster, by Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999. ISBN 0312199813. An exhaustive analysis of all the surviving session tapes.


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