10 Heartbreaking Things You Didn't Know About The Beatles' Final Performance

By Sarah Norman | December 16, 2023

The Band’s Appearance on The BBC In '68 Gave Them a Hunger for Live Performance

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source: BBC

Since giving up live performances in 1966, The Beatles had been happy to argue and record beautiful music in private. But after a one-off performance for television, the band realized how much fun they had jamming in front of people. In September 1968, the group filmed a performance of “Hey Jude” with a small audience for David Frost’s show where the audience joined in as a chorus during the ending. The short performance sparked something in the group; they realized that they wanted to play in front of people again. They quickly arranged a date in January 1969 at the Roundhouse in London. Rather than just play the show the band decided to film it for a TV broadcast. They hired Michael Lindsay-Hogg to direct the performance -- but the band never made it to the Roundhouse.

The Band Was Working On A Return To The Stage Before Ending It All

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source: boise state public radio

In January 1969, the band was freezing in London’s Twickenham Studio. They plunked at their instruments, they worked out new material, but didn't accomplish anything. The Beatles hadn’t played a full set in front of an audience since their final American tour in 1966. Paul McCartney wanted the band to make a big splash at a venue called The Roundhouse, a small rock club that would bring the group back to their roots. He wanted to shake things up. But the rest of the band just wasn’t excited about this new, McCartney-led direction.

During rehearsals for the performance, McCartney had boundless energy, but none of the other guys seemed to care. A frustrated Paul lectured everyone, which didn’t sit well with the group. He said:

I don’t see why any of you, if you’re not interested, got yourselves into this. What’s it for? It can’t be for the money. Why are you here? I’m here because I want to do a show, but I don’t see an awful lot of support. There’s only two choices: We’re gonna do it or we’re not gonna do it, and I want a decision. Because I’m not interested in spending my days farting around here, while everyone makes up their mind whether they want to do it or not.