An executive of the Beatles’ Apple Corps organization, who was present when the band played its final concert on the roof of Apple Records in 1969, explained why he and others kept silent about their time with the Fab Four for many years afterward.
Ken Mansfield looked after the U.S. part of the operation and was responsible for the decision to release “Hey Jude” as a single, despite its nonstandard length for radio play at the time.
“They were trying to figure out whether to release ‘Revolution’ or ‘Hey Jude’ as their first single under Apple,” he told Billboard. “Paul [McCartney] was a businessman, and he was worried stations wouldn’t play it because it was too long. I said I would take it to America … meet the program directors at radio stations and get their opinion if we should break the rules, if it’s strong enough.” He said the directors “fell on the floor when they heard it. I called Paul and said, ‘We have to go with this.’”
Mansfield can be seen during the Beatles’ 40-minute rooftop show on Jan. 30, 1969; he’s the man in the white coat to the band’s left. “No one knew at the time that was going to be their last performance,” he noted. “It turned out to be the most unique, fascinating thing they could have done and all they had to do was walk up a few flights of stairs. It was very raw, real and simple.”
That event is the subject of The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert, Mansfield’s third book about his experiences with the band. “A lot of us who were there never talked about the Beatles much until decades later,” he said. “They never said to us to keep the things we saw to ourselves. But the thing about all of us is that it was such a privilege to have been there that we had to honor them by keeping things to ourselves and not talking about everything.
“There was something about them that the minute you were in their inner circle they treated you like a friend. I never got the impression of, ‘I’m a Beatle and you aren’t.’ You were part of the team, and every day something phenomenal happened. I didn’t realize the importance of it until after about 20 years.”