Miami Beach

A Miami symphony gets back to the Beatles by playing from a rooftop to mark history

The Beatles in the studio in 1969 working on the tapes for what would become the “Let It Be” album, released in early 1970. L-R: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
The Beatles in the studio in 1969 working on the tapes for what would become the “Let It Be” album, released in early 1970. L-R: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Apple Corps Ltd.

UPDATED: Set list and video from the performance below.

“Hey! What’s that sound?/Everybody look — what’s going down?

Wrong song, but that might be the right reaction. Hundreds of people will look up Wednesday afternoon after hearing some familiar tunes coming from the top of the iconic 1111 Lincoln Road garage.

They’ll see see a re-creation of a famous event of 50 years ago — Jan. 30, 1969.

Miami Beach, once again, gets a dose of Beatlemania.

At 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Miami Beach’s New World Symphony will perform a free one-hour set of Beatles favorites live on the rooftop of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage. The concert is a tribute to what the Beatles did with its unauthorized rooftop concert in London, which has its 50th anniversary on Wednesday.

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The New World Symphony will perform Beatles songs at the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage in Miami Beach. Miami Herald file

The symphony will “be amplifying the sound in hopes of re-creating the magic of ’69 for passersby strolling along the Lincoln Road pedestrian promenade below,” the South Florida classical music organization announced. The Lincoln Road Business Improvement District is helping to sponsor the musical endeavor.

The New World Symphony will mark the anniversary of The Beatles’ 1969 rooftop concert in London with a performance above Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Rui Dias-Aidos Miami Herald File

Rooftop concert

The Beatles’ famed rooftop concert atop the Apple Corps headquarters at Three Savile Row in London in January 1969 came about five years after the Fab Four fully conquered America with its second live TV performance for “The Ed Sullivan Show.” That one was filmed from Miami Beach’s Deauville Hotel on Feb. 16, 1964.

But unlike the innocent Beatles of 1964, the 1969 rooftop concert was a last-ditch effort — instigated by Paul McCartney’s desire to perform live after the group’s fractured studio sessions for the nicknamed “White Album” in 1968.

McCartney hoped a return-to-roots live performance, free of the elaborate productions on albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or the increasingly individual recording sessions for the “White Album,” which didn’t feature the Beatles playing together on all of its tracks, would inspire the group.

John Lennon supposedly came up with the idea to play atop the Apple building’s roof when other venue ideas — including the Giza pyramids — didn’t pan out, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Instead, the Beatles’ unannounced and unauthorized rooftop concert — perhaps inspired by the Jefferson Airplane’s lead in becoming the first rock band to stage such an impromptu rooftop concert (in New York atop the Schuyler Hotel on Dec. 7, 1968) — would be its last live performance.

Tensions flared, especially between McCartney and George Harrison, who almost quit the group after a row between the two musicians. Keyboardist Billy Preston, who would go on to become a solo star with ‘70s hits like “Will It Go Round in Circles” and “Nothing From Nothing” became the so-called “Fifth Beatle” for his distinctive work on “Get Back,” the hit pulled for single release from this event.

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Cover art of The Beatles’ ”Let It Be” album, released in 1970, a year after its live recordings were made on the Apple Corps rooftop. Apple Corps Ltd. / EMI Music Apple Corps Ltd. / EMI Music

A quasi-live album, festooned with strings by producer Phil Spector, was initially shelved as the Beatles recorded its final album, “Abbey Road” later that year. The rooftop concert music — which included rock ‘n’ roll raveups like “One After 909,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “I Dig a Pony” — was released as the “Let It Be” LP in May 1970.

Amid the breakup, the Beatles weren’t crazy about the resulting album. McCartney hated all the syrupy strings Spector ladled on “The Long and Winding Road,” for instance. By 1970, all four Beatles launched their solo careers.

Symphony relations

This leads us to wonder, how are relations among members of the New World Symphony?

All’s fine, we hear.

But there might be one additional commonality. Spokesman Aaron Gordon from Schwartz Media Strategies, which is promoting the NWS rooftop Beatles tribute Wednesday, noted how Lennon and Starr each wore their better halves’ coats to ward off the cold. It was 45 degrees in London when the Beatles perched on that rooftop. Lennon wore then-girlfriend Yoko Ono’s fur coat and Ringo Starr wore his wife Maureen’s red raincoat.

Tuesday morning temperatures in Miami were in the upper 40s. By the time the symphony clambers atop the 1111 Lincoln Road garage highs should approach 70. They missed the fur coats by a day.


The New World Symphony played the following Beatles songs Wednesday afternoon:

“With A Little Help From My Friends,” “All You Need is Love,” I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Norwegian Wood.”

“Yesterday,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

“In My Life,” “Across the Universe,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Blackbird,” “Hey Jude,” “Something” and closed with Lennon’s 1971 solo hit, “Imagine.”

Only one of the songs, “Across the Universe,” featured on the “Let It Be” album.

“Apparently, there’s no sheet music for ‘Dig a Pony,’” joked one of the concert’s publicists.

The Beatles - bw photo 1969.JPG
The Beatles in 1969, the year the group performed its famed rooftop concert atop the Apple Corps headquarters in London on Jan. 30, 1969, which would become the “Let It Be” album in 1970. From left, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Apple Corps Ltd. / EMI Music Apple Corps Ltd. / EMI Music

New Beatles film and restoration

In other Beatles anniversary news, Apple Corps and WingNut Films announced on Wednesday that the two surviving Beatles and Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison are collaborating with “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson to craft a new film.

The project is based around 55 hours of never-released footage of the group in the studio and was shot between Jan. 2-31, 1969. The result of these sessions would be the “Let It Be” album.

“The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about,” Jackson, 57, said in a statement. “It’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.”

The footage was originally shot by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who assembled the “Let It Be” documentary film, which was simultaneously released with the album.

“Sure, there were moments of drama — but none of the discord this project has long been associated with,” Jackson said.

After the still-untitled new film is released, “Let It Be” will also be reissued in restored form, something Beatles fans have long clamored for given earlier Beatles films like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help” and “Yellow Submarine” have been restored and released.

A release date for the two films hasn’t been set.

Jimmy Fallon joined former Beatle Paul McCartney on stage at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on April 20. Fallon came on stage to wish the crowd a “Happy 4/20”, before joining McCartney in singing "I Saw Her Standing There."

If you go

What: Free New World Symphony performance of classic songs by The Beatles

When: 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30

Where: 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, above the Nespresso store

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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