It was 50 years ago today

It was 50 years ago today


norman lebrecht

August 08, 2019

On the morning of Friday 8 August 1969, the four Beatles lined up on the Abbey Road crossing outsde the EMI studios for the most controversial and iconic snapshot in the whole of rock history.


Today, the site is thronged by tourists, all trying to replicate the original shot (to the frustration of those of us who chose to live in the neighbourhood).


  • Alexander says:

    since 2002 the 8th of August is also International Cat Day 😉

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I suppose they have become classics of popular culture, because enough people still care for them, often for nostalgic reasons. For me the best popular music was in the 1920s & 30s (not so much in 1910s). The rot started in 1940s. By 1950s popular music was a lost cause. Today it is utter barbarism. This is coming from someone who is open to European avant-garde of 20th century, including serialism.

  • John Harmar-Smith says:

    I worked at Abbey Road for four years editing EMI’s classical output in the 1980s and it was a fairly frequent experience to be asked by tourists to take a photo of four friends crossing the famous crossing! The traffic was always very patient, such as it was…

  • Minnesota says:

    “Controversial” photo?

  • PaulD says:

    Maxim Vengerov posed for a picture in the crosswalk, for his Prokofiev album with Rostropovich back in the 90s.

  • DennisW says:

    “Iconic” I understand (though I frankly detest The Beatles), but what was “controversial” about what is, in the end, just a simple photo of four blokes in suits crossing a street?

    N.B. August 8 is also the birthday of the great Roger Federer!

    • V.Lind says:

      Isn’t this the photo that started the ridiculous “Paul McCartney is dead” rumours? That would make it somewhat controversial.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      How can anyone ‘detest’ the Beatles? Isn’t that just a bit harsh?

      August 8, 1969 is also the day Sharon Tate, her unborn child and others were killed by Charles Manson. “Helter Skelter” was scribbled at one of the crime scenes.

      And, ironically, Roman Polanski was Sharon’s husband. He filmed “Rosemary’s Baby” at the Dakota, in NYC, where John Lennon was later killed…

  • Jack says:

    Why was Paul walking barefoot?

    • Laurence says:

      Because he was dead! Duh!

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      That was a secret message to other members of an underground sect, or the barefoot walk was some kind of sacrifice in a magical ritual, or by some reason he did not note that he had no shoes, or his agent told him to do so to create attention (in this case successfully, since we are still commenting on his barefoot walk after 50 years) , or maybe he just suffered from ingrown toenails.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Who are these guys? Never heard of them.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      I seems that they were fans of Stockhausen.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      In the same way that 99.99% of the worlds population have never heard of you Mr Borstlap, but I will guarantee that in another 100 years time they will still be playing the music of these “unknowns”……… about your music?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Are you sure you are on the right website? For cumulative populist quantities, there are much more entertaining little corners on the internet.

        (About listeners to my music, I have no reason to complain, by the way. And in another 100 years there won’t be any populists, irritated by elitist remarks, left: they will have become extinct through natural selection and government prohibition on procreation.)

        • Ellingtonia says:

          As you are a self proclaimed intellectual and dismissive of any other music outside the classical genre, I thought I should take heed of the compositional genius that lurks within you. So I gave your composition “Fantasia” an outing on Youtube and I think the following comment left by a listener sums it up best, “unfettered by the slavery of talent”. I think I will stick with the peasants who can appreciate everything from. Bruckner and Mahler through to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and the greatest musician of the 20th century, Edward Kennedy Ellington…… have much to discover and appreciate.

  • M2N2K says:

    From Believe-It-Or-Not files:
    On several occasions within the last four decades, I personally heard some of the most prominent and world-renowned classical musicians declaring that they consider John&Paul to be the greatest creators of good tunes (taking into account both quality and quantity) since either Schubert or Tchaikovsky and possibly Gershwin.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    NL writes: “most controversial and iconic snapshot”

    The most iconic must surely be Sgt Pepper. This would have to come second.