With the first significant discussion of the potential live show complete, I thought it was as good a time as any to briefly go off timeline to present what the project’s director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, had already worked on in his career to this point. More than 30 posts in, it’s clear he’s a central character to the Let it Be/Get Back story, even if he doesn’t pick up a guitar or sing a note during the sessions.
After some stage work, the 25-year-old entered the world of music in 1965 as a director on “Ready Steady Go!”
And it was his exposure working on the show that caught the eye of Brian Epstein, who drafted Lindsay-Hogg to direct promo films for “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” in 1966.
Certainly foreshadowing the relationship we’ve heard thus far on these Jan. 1969 tapes, the director describes his first meeting with the band to sketch out ideas for the two films in his 2011 autobiography, “Luck and Circumstance“:
But with The Beatles that evening, I found an idea was something to be mauled, like a piece of meat thrown into an animal cage. They’d paw at it, chuck parts of it from one to the other, chew on it a bit, spit it out, and then toss the remnant to me, on the other side of the bars.
Ultimately, the director “was told Mr. Epstein did not want anything ‘unusual, just a video of the boys performing,'” he wrote in his autobiography.
The creative relationship with The Beatles seems much different than the one he developed with the Rolling Stones, a band for which he ultimately directed dozens of videos for into the 1980s, beginning with both sides of the “Jumping Jack Flash” single in 1968.
Not much after the Stones shoots, Lindsay-Hogg was back with The Beatles, this time filming both halves of the uber-single “Hey Jude/Revolution” in September.
Here’s Lindsay-Hogg with a few words on the “Revolution” clip, in an interview published as part of the promotion of the 1+ set.
Iconic Beatles visuals, I dare say, and it showed the potential of a shoot at Twickenham. And it’s partly from the “Hey Jude” experience, in which the band is said to have enjoyed playing live before an audience — not just the songs before the camera, but impromptu performances between takes — that led Paul to hatch the Get Back idea, which began filming nearly four months to the day later.
But first, Lindsay-Hogg got the call from Mick Jagger to direct what was to become the Rock & Roll Circus, with one John Lennon contributing “Yer Blues” to the production, filmed about three weeks before The Beatles commenced rehearsals at Twickenham.
The show was famously shelved until 1996, in part because The Who blew the Stones off the stage. The same Who, incidentally, that Lindsay-Hogg shot the “Happy Jack” promo film for two years earlier after also shooting them for “Ready Steady Go!”
This is the oeuvre the then-29-year-old son of Orson Welles (something he only recently found out was true) brings into his latest gig for The Beatles in Jan. 1969.