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A Last-Minute Tipoff Stopped The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert from Ending in a Drug Bust

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The Beatles’ movie Let It Be’ paints the London police as killjoys for ordering the Fab Four to halt their rooftop concert, which took place 50 years ago today. But that’s far from the truth. The police actually let The Beatles’ last public performance go on for over 40 minutes despite noise complaints, and they were kind enough to tip off the band about the raid ten minutes before they entered the studio. And that courtesy call prevented The Beatles’ final concert from ending in a drug bust, according to a former employee of Apple — the band’s record company.

Before the raid, someone called from the Savile Row police station saying, You’ve got 10 minutes,’” former Apple employee John Kosh recalled years after the concert. So we knew they were coming and everyone was ready for it.”

The ten-minute window gave Apple’s team enough time to warn the cannabis-loving Beatles about the intrusion and flush any illegal substances found on site. But there wasn’t a second to spare, said Kosh. 

When the police raided the building, there was a whole chorus of toilets being flushed,” he remembered. Unfortunately, that encore of flushes didn’t make it into the movie — if it happened at all. The incident might sound a bit exaggerated, but Kosh’s account has been partially corroborated by eyewitness Ken Mansfield.

As [the police] began their journey up the stairs and through the building, I was told toilets flushed in unison up and down all five floors,” wrote Mansfield, another former Apple employee. Everyone waited until they knew for sure the police were coming before cleaning house.’ I couldn’t hear the waterworks from the roof, but I bet it sounded like Niagara Falls when the police were coming up the stairs.”

But the only way to know if it happened for sure is to see footage of the incident. And we might just get that thanks to director Peter Jackson, who is working on a new documentary based on over two days’ worth of unreleased footage from the Let It Be’ movie.

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 said in a press release. 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.”

Jackson hasn’t set a release date yet for the new documentary, but when it comes out, make sure to listen carefully at the end of the rooftop concert for the sound of toilets flushing.

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