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On the roof of The Beatles’ Apple Corps headquarters at 3 Savile Row in London, the band performed what would turn out to be its final public concert.

They could easily have filled any stadium—any space at all, really—in the world, but there they are, the four of them in the flesh, the one and only actual Beatles, on Jan. 30, 1969, playing for free for the benefit of anyone in the neighborhood who cares to stop and listen.

They could have done it anywhere but planning out a huge gig with tickets and all that would have involved too much effort. They just wanted to see what it was like to play live again. Being January, they weren’t about to announce a big show in Hyde Park or any such open space.

Apple engineer Alan Parsons set up two eight-track tape recorders in the basement of the Savile Row building and ran wires to the roof. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg rolled film. With the cold wind blowing and a handful of spectators (including Yoko Ono) gathered, the four musicians, dressed for the weather, took to their instruments, facing the front of the building, and began to play.

Later that year, the Beatles would record Abbey Road, their final album, but by the end of 1969 they were effectively finished. On Sept. 20, John informed the others he “wanted a divorce.” By the time the Let it Be album and film were released in 1970—the latter containing some of the rooftop concert—the Beatles were no longer a band.

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