Cops and Krishnas, mad inventors and comic geniuses. The Beatles had gathered a colourful crew around them by 1969, many of whom drop by the ‘Let It Be’ sessions to hang, hustle or play along, thereby ending up in the background of Peter Jackson’s mammoth new documentary The Beatles: Get Back. Here’s a full who’s who of the supporting players (aka anyone who isn’t John, Paul, George or Ringo).
Dennis O’Dell – producer
Producer of the Let It Be film, who loaned The Beatles Twickenham Studios for the duration of January 1969 in order to rehearse and record their planned TV special while preparations were underway for his next movie project The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg – filmmaker
Director of Let It Be, having previously worked with The Beatles on promotional films for ‘Paperback Writer’, ‘Rain’, ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution’. He shot 60 hours of footage and taped 150 hours of audio of The Beatles at work on ‘Let It Be’, often recording them surreptitiously in order to make the film as candid as possible.
Mal Evans – road manager
Also The Beatles’ personal assistant and close friend, originally hired as the band’s bodyguard, roadie and gofer in 1963 when he was working as a bouncer at the Cavern Club. Chances are the Beatles autograph your nan so treasures was actually scrawled by Mal. For the ‘Let It Be’ sessions and the rooftop gig he was on tea and delay-the-rozzers duties, and can be seen in Get Back thoroughly enjoying smacking a metal bar with a hammer on ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’.
Kevin Harrington – roadie
Beatles roadie and author of a book Who’s The Redhead On The Roof…? about his time with the band, Harrington ferried about a whole lot of tea and toast during the making of ‘Let It Be’, and also helped set up the rooftop show.
Renowned Japanese artist, bag-clad singer and partner of John Lennon. A constant presence at Lennon’s side during latter-period Beatles sessions, often whispering in his ear or joining in freeform jams. Later in 1969 the pair would marry in Gibraltar. You might have heard of her…
Shyamsunder Das – spiritual observer
Member of the Radha Krishna Temple group formerly known as Sam Speerstra, who had tracked down George Harrison at Apple HQ the month before the Let It Be filming and introduced him to the Hare Krishna movement. He ended up attending sessions at Twickenham as a spiritual observer. “Who’s that little old man?” Lennon asked his bandmates. “Clean, though,” Paul replied.
George Martin – the fifth Beatle
Long-standing Beatles producer, on hand at the sessions to oversee microphone positions, advise on acoustics and organise any recording that might take place.
Glyn Johns – recording engineer
Also co-producer for the sessions, and referred to as “Glynis” by The Beatles during shooting. Johns would ultimately be called upon to compile the finished album, making several attempts before the project was handed over to Phil Spector to complete. Johns would call Spector’s version “a syrupy load of old bullshit”.
Note to any friends with contacts at fashion blogs: I would read the hell out of a deep dive into Glyn Johns' absolutely flawless Get Back wardrobe. pic.twitter.com/q7eVA2S5iy
— Jordan Runtagh (@JordanRuntagh) November 27, 2021
Neil Aspinall – Apple head honcho
A schoolfriend of Paul and George, Aspinall started working for the band as road manager, then PA and finally as MD of Apple. He stood in for George when he was too ill to attend the camera rehearsals for The Ed Sullivan Show, and that’s him on harmonica on ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’.
Tony Richmond – Let It Be DP
Director of photography, who would go on to shoot David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Who in The Kids Are Alright and, most notably, Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde.
Les Parrott – cameraman
Australian camera operator for the shoot. “My brief on the first day was to ‘shoot The Beatles’,” he said later. “The sound crew instructions were to roll/record from the moment the first Beatle appeared and to record sound all day until the last one left. We had two cameras and just about did the same thing.”
Peter Sutton – sound recordist
Went on to win an Oscar for his work on The Empire Strikes Back.
Alexis ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas – tech guru
Greek technical whizz who caught Lennon’s eye with his 1965 gallery exhibit Kinetic Light Sculptures and subsequently became his “new guru” and head of Apple Electronics. Claimed he could build The Beatles a 72-track tape deck for ‘Let It Be’ which, like several of his more fanciful ideas – a force field around Ringo’s drums, invisible paint, a flying saucer – never came to fruition.
Mukunda Goswami – spiritual observer
Another member of the Radha Krishna Temple who joined Shyamsunder Das at Harrison’s request to watch the sessions from a distance on day three.
Paul Bond – clapper man
The loader on the shoot, on one of his earliest film jobs. Would later work on a vast array of shows and films including Troy, Notes On A Scandal, Downton Abbey and Beadles About.
Ethan Russell – photographer
Having shot The Rolling Stones’ Rock’n’Roll Circus TV show, Neil Aspinall invited Russell to take fly-on-the-wall shots at the ‘Let It Be’ sessions too – his photos adorned the album’s cover.
Peter Brown – manager
Apple executive and de facto Beatles manager in the wake of Brian Epstein’s death, who arrives at the Apple sessions to tell John that Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein was seeking an audience to discuss becoming manager of The Beatles. In ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’, it’s Brown who’s quoted as saying “you can get married in Gibraltar near Spain”.
American photographer and Paul’s partner, soon to become Mrs McCartney and eventually his keyboard foil in Wings, Eastman takes photos of the band throughout rehearsal.
Dick James – publisher
The Beatles’ publisher and something of a villain in their story. It was with James that they signed a notoriously bad deal, giving the band a fraction of the income that James would make from their music, and resulting in them losing their rights to their songs when James sold his stake in their publishing company Northern Songs in 1969 without offering them the chance to buy him out. When discussing a potential Beatles “divorce” during filming, Paul jokes that Dick James would get the kids.
Wife of Ringo, whom he’d met at the Cavern. By far the most enthusiastic Beatles spouse at the rooftop show, causing Paul to close the gig with “thanks Mo.”
Billy Preston – legendary keyboard player
Ray Charles’ keyboardist and friend of The Beatles since their Hamburg days (when he was touring with Little Richard aged just 16), Preston was brought in as the ‘fifth Beatle’ for ‘Let It Be’, even earning himself a credit on the ‘Get Back’ single: “The Beatles with Billy Preston”. His arrival, after Harrison had walked out of the band and gone to see him play with Charles, eased the in-band tensions to the point that Lennon suggested they make him an official member.
Peter Sellers – actor
The Goon and Pink Panther comedy megastar makes an awkward appearance in the middle of a filmed band meeting to say hi to his Magic Christian co-star Ringo, sits down for a few minutes, then quickly makes his excuses and leaves once Paul has explained to him “we like to make time to feel embarrassed around this time each day.”
Dave Harries – engineer
Abbey Road sound engineer who’d worked on the first recording of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. He’d also work with Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys and The Temptations and help set up British Grove Studios in London.
Sue Ahearne – fan
One of the “Apple scruffs” who loiter politely outside Twickenham and the Savile Row office hoping to catch sight of The Beatles.
Eileen Kensley – fan
Sue’s fellow “Scruff”. “I don’t come for all of them it’s just Paul I come for,” she explains. Her wildest hope for The Beatles? “Any show.”
Derek Taylor – press guy
Beatles press officer, who appears mightily sanguine about a story in a national publication that John and George had come to blows.
Neil Richmond – tape operator
Seen tinkering with tapes ahead of an attempt to segue ‘Dig A Pony’ straight into what John calls “I’ve got a fever”.
Chris Thomas – producer
Sat in for George Martin for some of the ‘White Album’. Would go on to work on ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ and produce The Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’.
George’s wife and muse for ‘Something’, whom he’d met on the set of A Hard Day’s Night. Soon to become the wife and muse of George’s close friend Eric Clapton, and the subject of ‘Layla’ and ‘Wonderful Tonight’.
Alan Parsons – tape operator
Drafted in from Abbey Road for the Apple sessions, Parsons would also work on ‘Abbey Road’, early Wings albums and Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ before launching his own art-prog band The Alan Parsons Project in 1975.
Robert Fraser – collaborator
Art dealer known as Groovy Bob and described by McCartney as one of the most influential people in London in the mid-‘60s. It was Fraser who sponsored the Indica Gallery art exhibition where John first met Yoko, and art-designed ‘Sgt Pepper…’.
Linda’s six-year-old daughter who turns up pretending to be a kitten, has a go on Ringo’s kit and finds herself singing wordlessly along during a 12-minute jam of ‘Dig It’ like Yoko in full flight.
Linda's daughter listening to Yoko "sing" is all of us. #GetBack pic.twitter.com/uqhLjni3Vf
— Joe Vallina, CAE 🇺🇸🇪🇸 (@JoeVallina) November 27, 2021
Jimmy Clarke – doorman
At Apple on the day of the final gig and frontline when the rozzers show up.
Keith Slaughter – sound engineer
Beatles regular since ‘Sgt Pepper…’. On the day of the rooftop concert, Slaughter and Dave Harries were pulled over by police with a car full of ropes, speakers and blocks on the suspicion that they were en route to a robbery.
Sally Burgess – press secretary
In a 1968 edition of German magazine Bravo, her description of working for the band read: “John, Paul, George and Ringo only have young, funny and talented people around and it flatters me to be a part of it. Although we work hard, the atmosphere is casual and fun, better than any other company in the world. And every day something new happens. You must learn to quickly adapt to any situation. Once however, it even became too much for me and I just crawled under my desk.”
Gene Mahon – graphics designer
Came up with the Apple logo and the concept of having one side of the company’s record labels as a full apple and the other side as a sliced one.
Paul’s brother, a member of comedy poetry troupe The Scaffold under the pseudonym Mike McGear and a photographer nicknamed Flash Harry by Epstein, joined the band on piano for a ‘Dig It’ jam based on the album’s song titles the day before the rooftop show.
Debbie Wellum – receptionist
At Apple on the day of the rooftop gig. “I have decided that I have the most exciting Apple job,” she said in the German Bravo article. “I have to catch all the teenagers who want to speak to my bosses. Recently, a group of Italian scouts were here, all of whom claimed to be cousins of George Harrison. But I didn’t fall for such a dirty trick. I wouldn’t trade in my bosses for anyone else in the world, even if they had really had so many cousins!” She certainly does a fantastic job of stalling the cops when they show up.
PC Ray Shayler – police officer
First responding officer on the scene alongside PC Ray Dagg, PC Shayler discusses complaints with concerned, bower-hatted squares while considering correct procedure in stopping rock history from happening.
PC Ray Dagg – police officer
Alongside Shayler, PC Dagg knocks stoutly on the Apple Office door and asks Jimmy Clarke to have the music turned down following numerous complaints. “They’re just doing a couple of numbers, that’s all,” Clarke tells them. “Turn it down now or else I’m going to start arresting people,” Dagg tells him, Clint Eastwardishly.
PC Peter Craddock – police officer
Third officer on the rooftop. Doesn’t prove to be much use at curtailing unauthorised rock. Watches on as Mal Evans turns off George’s amp and George turns it back on again.
Sgt. David Kenrick – police sergeant
Top brass arrives during ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, taking no nonsense. Clearly not a fan of ‘Get Back’.