Collector Finds Rare Footage of The Beatles's Top of the Pops Performance in His Attic

Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons / Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

The Beatles's last live concerts—at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966 and then on a London rooftop three years later—have gone down as some of the most significant events in pop music history. But until recently, evidence of one Top of the Pops performance all four Beatles gave in their final weeks together had been lost to time. Now, the BBC reports that footage of that appearance has been recovered and remastered 53 years after it was filmed.

Top of the Pops is a long-running BBC television series. Episodes showcase musical performances from popular artists with hit songs on the current charts. The first-ever episode, which was broadcast on January 1, 1964, featured The Beatles performing their early single (and first American No. 1) "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

In 1966, the band returned to the program to play their song "Paperback Writer." Just a few weeks later, they held the concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park that marked their last scheduled gig as the Fab Four.

No footage of that Top of the Pops show exists in the BBC's archives, but in May 2019, a collector in Mexico discovered a 19-second clip of the performance a family from Liverpool had filmed on their television when the performance first aired in 1966. After learning of that discovery, a collector named David Chandler remembered that he had recorded the same episode on his wind-up camera when he was a teenager. After searching his attic, he discovered an old 8mm reel with a 92-second clip of The Beatles playing the song without audio. He also found footage he had recorded of other artists performing on Top of the Pops, including Dusty Springfield, Ike and Tina Turner, and Tom Jones.

Chandler donated the rare film reels to Kaleidoscope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving old episodes of classic television programs. You can watch the remastered version of the clip in the video below.

[h/t BBC]