The Cop Who Broke Up the Beatles' Rooftop Performance Doesn't Regret a Thing
London Metropolitan PC Ray Dagg, then 19, was more of a Simon & Garfunkel fan
Published Jan 07, 2022Peter Jackson's three-part documentary The Beatles: Get Back chronicles rehearsals and recording sessions that culminate in the Beatles' iconic 1969 rooftop performance — including the moment police arrived to break things up. Over five decades on from pulling the plug on what would be the Fab Four's final live appearance, constable Ray Dagg has no regrets over bringing the performance to an end.
In his first television interview since Jackson's Get Back was released, Dagg told CTV News about how he's received letters from around the globe about the footage of his 19-year-old self in the docuseries that shows him patiently pleading with staffers at Apple Records to stop the source of the noise that drew crowds to the street and surrounding rooftops.
Speaking with CTV News, Dagg, now 72, recalled how he had only been on the job for six months, mainly working traffic duty, before being tasked with concert control on January 30, 1969. He recalled, "The sergeant said to me: 'Before you go anywhere on your beat go and shut that noise down because it's not just the noise, it's the people in the street, thousands.'"
Dagg told the broadcaster that he believes he was let into the building because he looked young. Footage from a camera hidden in the Apple Records lobby shows him being polite, but firm in looking to find his way up to the roof. "I'm thinking I've been stalled here," he shared. "I'm thinking there's a finite amount of time I'm prepared to put up with it."
Once Dagg makes it upstairs, cameras catch him in conversation with the Beatles' road manager Mal Evans while the band plays on. Dagg recalled, "I said, 'Right that's it, I've been very patient I've been trying to accommodate you but you show no sign of stopping – tell the four of them they're under arrest.'"
"So it would have meant arresting them on private property, taking them outside," he continued. "And then I'd have gotten into a lot of trouble, a huge amount of trouble if I had turned up at the station with the Beatles in tow… wrongfully arresting them."
Dagg, who preferred Simon & Garfunkel to the Fab Four, shared that he only found out that the Beatles' rooftop show was their last-ever performance after Apple Records producers contacted him for the Get Back Film. "They could have easily done many more concerts together, they split up shortly after they were on the roof," he says of the band. "I happened to be there… pure coincidence. Responsibility I feel for it… none."
Read Exclaim!'s review of The Beatles: Get Back, and watch a trailer here for the lengthy docuseries, now streaming on Disney+.