The Beatles’ Final Concert: An Eyewitness Looks Back

“It was another day at the office,” Ken Mansfield says, recalling the Beatles’ impromptu rooftop concert in January 1969. There’s not even a hint of sarcasm in his voice. The group staged the gig atop Apple Records’ London office at 3 Savile Row, 50 years ago today, with the intention of shooting the ending for what would become their Let It Be film. It was an item on a checklist. Mansfield, who was born in Idaho, was the label’s U.S. manager at the time. “Some of the people in the Apple office didn’t even try to come up, because it was just another day.”

Mansfield was invited to watch the historic performance, the Beatles’ last live gig, at the urging of the band’s roadie, Mal Evans. “I think Mal just liked to take care of me, so he made sure I was up there,” he says. When he found out about the afternoon gig, Mansfield ran out and bought a white raincoat, since it was in the low 40s outside, and huddled on a bench with Yoko Ono, Ringo’s then-wife Maureen Starkey and Apple staffer Chris O’Dell to watch the quartet perform nine songs, including multiple retakes of “Get Back.” “George had me light some cigarettes for him for a few minutes just so he could hold the tips of his fingers up against the coals so he could feel his strings,” Mansfield recalls. “And I know John was really complaining about it, about the cold and how he couldn’t feel his hands.”

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One thought on “The Beatles’ Final Concert: An Eyewitness Looks Back”

  1. I was there down in the street for the Rooftop Concert and very pleased to be in Savile Row for the 50th Anniversary. Thank you for your spirited and knowledgeable speech on the day.

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