A bit of Savile Row & Music Trivia here for you…
“We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there. It was a nice little social study.
We set up a camera in the Apple reception area, behind a window so nobody could see it, and we filmed people coming in. The police and everybody came in saying, ‘You can’t do that! You’ve got to stop.”
- George Harrison
It was a cold London day, on Thursday, 30 January 1969. To cope with the typically London Winter weather, John Lennon borrowed Yoko Ono’s fur coat, and Ringo Starr wore his wife Maureen Starkey’s red mac.
“There was a plan to play live somewhere. We were wondering where we could go – ‘Oh, the Palladium or the Sahara.’ But we would have had to take all the stuff, so we decided, ‘Let’s get up on the roof.’ We had Mal and Neil set the equipment up on the roof, and we did those tracks. I remember it was cold and windy and damp, but all the people looking out from offices were really enjoying it.”
- Ringo Starr
The 42-minute show was recorded onto two eight-track machines in the basement of Apple, by George Martin, engineer Glyn Johns and tape operator Alan Parsons. The tracks were filled with the following: Paul McCartney, vocals; John Lennon’s and George Harrison’s vocals; Billy Preston’s organ; McCartney’s bass guitar; a sync track for the film crew; Starr’s drums; Lennon’s guitar; Harrison’s guitar.
“That was one of the greatest and most exciting days of my life. To see The Beatles playing together and getting an instant feedback from the people around them, five cameras on the roof, cameras across the road, in the road, it was just unbelievable.”
- Alan Parsons, Tape Operator
The songs performed on the roof:
- Get Back (five versions)
- I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
- Don’t Let Me Down (two versions)
- I’ve Got A Feeling
- One After 909
- Danny Boy
- Dig A Pony (two versions)
- God Save The Queen
- A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody
Brief, incomplete and off-the-cuff versions of I Want You (She’s So Heavy), God Save The Queen and A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody were fooled around with in between takes – as was Danny Boy, which was included in the film and on the album. None of these were serious group efforts, and one – the group and Preston performing God Save The Queen – was incomplete as it coincided with Alan Parsons changing tapes.
Luckily for many of the passers by and members of the public that worked in the area, the performance started at midday so therefore coincided with many people’s lunch hours.
However and unfortunately their final live performance was cut short by the local police, situated at the opposite end of Savile Row, who decided that, due to the local traffic coming to a halt that the gig needed to be shut down.
John Lennon’s famous response to this was:
“I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.”
Talk about going out in style.
Ringo also had this to say of the abrupt actions of the police.
“I always feel let down about the police. Someone in the neighbourhood called the police, and when they came up I was playing away and I thought, ‘Oh great! I hope they drag me off.’ I wanted the cops to drag me off – ‘Get off those drums!’ – because we were being filmed and it would have looked really great, kicking the cymbals and everything. Well, they didn’t, of course; they just came bumbling in: ‘You’ve got to turn that sound down.’ It could have been fabulous.” – Ringo Starr
With all that said and done, it is another great bit of history of which us patrons of “The Row” can hold onto which will forever be linked with this special place in London.
I will always remember one of the first times that I walked down Savile Row with my Dad when I was just a young lad, we stopped outside No.3, which at the time was boarded up and looked out of place compared to the rest of the buildings on the row due to it standing empty for many years and the graffiti laden door.
Dad told me of the history of the building in that it had once been the HQ of famous Apple Studios and how The Beatles played their last ever live performance there.
I remember saying to him what a shame it was that it was not being used and all that history not being taken advantage of, when I suggested how great it would be to turn into a shop for Steed.
He agreed but laughed it off at the same time as it would be a near impossibility, I would dread to think how much it would be to purchase that building.
Then once I ended up following Dad into the the trade, 5 and a half years ago and began travelling down with him to see our clients on Savile Row, I would always mention to him how great it would be if we won the Lottery (it would likely take multiple wins) and we could buy the building to turn the bottom two floors into a flagship store for Steed. Then to convert the upper floors into recording studios to rent out to musicians from around the world. I mean who wouldn’t want to create their music in a building with such history?!
None the less that dream, for now at least, has ended with Kier, a property development company, purchasing the building and presumably deciding that money over history and tradition takes precedent, when deciding to lease the bottom floors to Abercrombi & Fitch so that they can turn it into a “Kids Store”. Right in the middle of “The Home of Men’s Bespoke Tailoring”
Perhaps the only positive of this could be that one day the kids will return to Savile Row to commission a bespoke suit, hopefully from Steed.