Get Back photo session

The Beatles were photographed for the cover of the abandoned Get Back album on 13 May 1969.

The Beatles – Get Back album artwork

It was The Beatles’ intention to recreate the cover of Please Please Me, showing how they had changed visually since 1963. The group returned to EMI House at 20 Manchester Square, London, and at 6pm the same photographer, Angus McBean, photographed them as they resumed their poses.

This was McBean’s second attempt to recreate the Please Please Me photo. A recently-built porch prevented him from getting into the precise position, although some photos of The Beatles were taken. They can be identified by a maroon suit worn by George Harrison, and a dark blue one worn by John Lennon.

EMI invited the band and photographer to return a week later. For the 13 May shoot, Lennon and Harrison wore striped 1966 stage suits.

[In 1963] I asked John Lennon how long they would stay as a group, and he said, ‘Oh, about six years, I suppose – who ever heard of a bald Beatle?’ Well, it was just six years later that I was asked to repeat the shot with the Beatles as they now looked – very hairy indeed. When I got there I couldn’t retake the shot; a new porch had been built and I couldn’t get into the same position.

However, EMI asked if I could come back in a week. Meanwhile, the whole new porch was pulled down and we tried again.

Ringo Starr was so late that the staff of EMI was streaming down the stairs. I got the camera fixed up and John, fascinated by photography, came and lay down beside me to look at my view-finder. I can still hear the screams of the EMI girls as the realized who they were stepping over to get out the door!

Angus McBean

McBean’s photograph was used as the front cover of Glyn Johns’ Get Back album, which was to bear the strapline “with Don’t Let Me Down and 12 other songs”. The Beatles also commissioned their former press officer Tony Barrow, who had contributed liner notes to the band’s early albums, to write new words for Get Back.

However, the project was shelved and the session photographs remained unused until the 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (the so-called Red and Blue albums) were released in 1973.

The Get Back album was finally released in its original guise as part of the 2021 super deluxe reissue of Let It Be.

Last updated: 8 August 2023
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