Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Get back to where we once belonged
John Lennon could play guitar. The proof is in this rooftop video above the Apple headquarters in London, with John playing the lead on "Get Back" in what amounted to the Beatles' final live performance.
Lennon's guitar playing became, well, second fiddle to his more important roles as brilliant songwriter and world spirit. But the guitar was his instrument of choice, and although George Harrison was called upon to play most of the group's lead work John would get in his licks from time to time, especially when they were in the studio.
The "Get Back" version with Billy Preston on keyboards debuted at No. 10 on the U.S. chart and -- supported by a full-page ad in Billboard proclaiming "The Beatles as nature intended" -- was No. 1 on this day in 1969. It stayed there five weeks before Henry Mancini and his Orchestra took over the top spot with "Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet."
Here's how the Summer of '69 began on the Billboard chart:
1. Get Back, Beatles
2. Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, Fifth Dimension
3. Love (Can Make You Happy), Mercy
4. Hair, Cowsills
5. Oh Happy Day, Edwin Hawkins Singers
It would be one helluva summer. Man landed on the moon, Johnny Cash recorded Live at San Quentin, the Rolling Stones released "Honky Tonk Women" and John Wayne played the role in True Grit that would win him his only Oscar. Oh, and in a farm field outside Woodstock, N.Y. a lot of people showed up for a rock concert, but not to see the Beatles. They had signed off for the last time months earlier when John ended the rooftop session with: "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!"