More than half a century later, “Let It Be,” the final studio album made by the Beatles, remains an important part not just of the quartet’s canon, but of rock history.
Get Back to Let It Be
The Beatles were on the verge of breaking up when they went into the studio for the album, initially to be titled “Get Back.” The album was originally produced by the notorious Phil Spector, but a 2003 version titled “Let It Be…Naked” removed Spector’s trademark “wall of sound.” Personnel in the studio included Billy Preston–whom George Harrison wanted to make a member of the band–and engineer Alan Parsons, whose eponymous Project would be a mainstay of 1970s album-oriented rock.
A film crew followed the band in rehearsals in Twickenham, releasing the documentary “Let It Be” a week after the album’s release in 1970. Unused documentary footage was unearthed by Peter Jackson for the monolith “Get Back,” released in 2021 on Disney+.
Reminisce at the Rock Hall
But the chance to immerse yourself in this iconic album doesn’t stop there—its making is now the subject of a must-see exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “Beatles: Get Back to Let It Be” details the trials and travails of the Twickenham rehearsals, recording sessions at Apple Studios and the rooftop concert they performed at Apple—the last public performance of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison together as the Beatles.
The exhibit features a variety of artifacts, including movie posters from “Let It Be,” Lennon’s electric guitar and Starr’s drum kit. The two living Beatles, McCartney and Starr, and the estates of Lennon and Harrison have contributed personal items for display—from Lennon’s glasses and denim jacket to Starr’s red raincoat he wore during the rooftop concert.
And of course, there are handwritten lyrics, from Harrison’s “I Me Mine” to Lennon’s “Dig a Pony” to McCartney’s “I’ve Got a Feeling.” Glyn Johns was one of the engineers in the studio, having worked with just about every famous rock group of the 1960s and 1970s. He also kept a diary of the rehearsals and the album’s development, and those manuscripts are on display, as is his acetate pressing of the album.
Music Meets Multimedia
What would a music exhibit be without multimedia? The unprecedented access of the rehearsals and production for the initial documentary has lead to a wealth of footage, used to great effect in Jackson’s documentary. Clips will be shown as part of the display. Meanwhile, professional photographer Linda McCartney’s photos offer an intimate glimpse of the members of the band who changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll, as do pictures by Ethan Russell, whose work was used for the album’s cover art.
The exhibit runs through March 2023 as one of many reasons to visit the Rock Hall, an immersive experience detailing the roots and history of all things rock.