Paul McCartney has opened up about The Beatles’ iconic performance on the rooftop of the London headquarters of Apple in 1969, describing the way in which “working people tended to get” the pioneering group, while establishment figures found them obnoxious.
The Beatles rooftop performance forms the finale to Peter Jackson’s new documentary series Get Back. At the time, nobody knew – not even The Beatles themselves – that this would be their last performance. That lovely dose of dramatic irony makes for fascinating viewing, as I’m sure Jackson is well aware.
Peter Jackson’s focus on that very public performance (one that attracted disgruntled businessmen and avid fans alike) hints towards one of the central themes of Get Back – that The Beatles knew how to piss off the establishment. This is made clear in a scene in which a group of businessmen are asked what they think of the performance, to which they reply: “I think it’s a bit of an imposition to absolutely disrupt all the business in this area”.
In a recent interview, Paul McCartney was asked about scenes such as this and ended up opening up about The Beatles anti-establishment leanings. “There’s always the guy in the bowler hat who hates what you’re doing,” McCartney began.
“He’s never going to like it, and he thinks you’re offending his sensibilities,” the one-time Beatles bassist continued. “But you’ve got to remember, as we always did, there’s the people who work for that guy. There’s the young secretaries, the young guys in the office, or the tradesmen or the cleaners. Those are the people who like us. Also, a lot of the bosses too.
“We always knew that there’s the establishment, then there’s the working people. And we were the working people. Working people tended to get us, and understand what we were doing. And occasionally, you would get the kind of snob who would get angry. In a way, that was part of the fun,” he concluded.
See a clip of The Beatles performing on the London rooftop, below.