On This Day: The Beatles Release ‘Let It Be’ in 1970

by Suzanne Halliburton

Beatles fans, the song is wonderful, but it may bring back unpleasant memories. On this day, 51 years ago, Let It Be, the album, was released, coming almost a month after the iconic group broke up.

Paul McCartney spearheaded the song and album. There also was a movie to go along with it. The film featured the Fab Four’s rehearsals for a series of live performances. American music producer Phil Spector also was involved and according to many accounts, made things worse. He butted heads with McCartney.

John Lennon was disinterested, but he brought along then-girlfriend Yoko Ono to band rehearsal. During a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon referred to the sessions as the “the sh*ttiest load of badly recorded sh*t—and with a lousy feeling to it.”

George Harrison quit the Beatles during rehearsal after the first week. But he came back when the group agreed to move to the basement studio of their headquarters.

Oh, My: Critics Panned the Album

Critics panned the album. Given the sustained popularity of the Beatles and all the positive nostalgia cushioning the group, it seems strange there ever were any negatives.

Billboard described the Beatles Let It Be album like this:

Let It Be is the sound of four grown men with shared histories and diverging futures trying to squeeze blood from stones. The album contains a few moments of brilliance (“Two of Us,” the title track, the freewheeling country-rock finale “Get Back”) amid silly jams and a trio of wonderfully ragged performances recorded on January 30, 1969, when the Beatles took to the roof of Apple HQ and gave their final live show.

But Billboard pointed out this caveat — “Also: The Beatles at their worst were still pretty great.”

A poster for the Apple Corps movie ‘Let It Be’, featuring The Beatles, 1970. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)

Beatles Album Produced Two No. 1 Singles

The album produced three singles — Get Back, Let it Be and The Long and Winding Road.

McCartney wrote the song Let It Be. The song entered the Billboard charts at No. 6 and peaked at No. 1. McCartney said he wrote the song after he dreamed about his mother, who had died in 1956. He said in his dream, McCartney’s mother told him “It will be all right, just let it be.”

Let It Be won a Grammy in 1971 for best original song score for a movie. And the Beatles also earned an Academy Award for the song.

Meanwhile, The Long and Winding Road became the Beatles 20th No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And the song also was the last No. 1 for the Fab Four as a group. McCartney also wrote the song and said he was inspired by his farm in Scotland. There’s reason to think the song also reflects McCartney’s melancholy as he looked back at the Beatles’ history. It’s a haunting sort of song.

But, the work still is from the Beatles. And when it comes to the super group, it’s just differing levels of great.