Friday, May 24, 2019

Today in Music (1969): The Beatles hit #1 with “Get Back”

Get Back

The Beatles with Billy Preston

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: April 11, 1969

First Charted: April 23, 1969

Peak: 15 US, 15 CB, 11 GR, 14 HR, 1 CL, 16 UK, 16 CB, 14 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 12.5 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1968, the Fab Four “often resented each other’s company and there were few days when all four musicians worked happily together.” KL Despite being one of their most acclaimed works, their 1968 self-titled album (generally known as The White Album) showcased a band not so much for their united efforts, but for their individual talents.

To try to prevent imploding as a band, they made a conscious effort to “get back to Chuck Berry riffs for some barnstorming rock ‘n’ roll.” KL Paul McCartney wrote “Get Back” with the line “get back to where you once belonged” intended as “a message to himself and the other Beatles.” KL John Lennon suggested recording the next album live in the studio absent overdubbing and technical wizardry. FB Paul proposed they film the recording, which was slated a two-part TV documentary that got abandoned. FB

George Harrison walked out of the sessions on January 10, but was rejuvenated after seeing an old friend, organist Billy Preston, performing with Ray Charles. The Beatles knew Preston from their early days in 1962 when he backed Little Richard. They invited him to spend the next two weeks with them, FB which included contributing the spontaneous organ solo for “Get Back.” SF He and Tony Sheridan, whom the Beatles backed on some early recordings, are the only people to be billed on records alongside the Beatles. Preston said, “I didn’t even know until the record was out that they had put my name on it. It was something that I could have never asked for or no manager could negotiate, just something they felt for me.” FB

The Beatles famously performed the song on January 30, 1969, for their “rooftop” concert in which they their instruments to the top of the roof of the Apple studio to play what ended up being their last live performance. KL


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 254.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 150.
  • SF Songfacts

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First posted 3/17/2021; last updated 9/19/2023.

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