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The cop who shut down The Beatles’ final show has no regrets and no shame

Beatles
(Image credit: Apple Corps / Wing Nut Films / Disney)

The police constable who shut down The Beatles’ final concert, on the rooftop of their Apple Corps building in central London, on January 30, 1969, says he has no regrets about his behaviour on the day. 

With new footage of the iconic gig featuring in Peter Jackson’s long-awaited documentary The Beatles: Get Back, Ray Shayler, then a 25-year-old policeman with three years experience in The Met, has given a new interview to the Daily Mail,  recounting his memories of the day.

“I didn’t like the Beatles much when they went a bit Hare Krishna,” Shayler, now 77, recalls, “but we had a few Beatles records and LPs at home. I liked their music. But when I got on the roof, I had a job to do and I thought, ‘Well, we’ve got to try and stop this’.”

In charge of a four man unit on the day, Shayler remembers speaking with the band’s road manager, Mal Evans, informing him that, “much as I appreciated what they were doing, it couldn’t happen any more as it was amounting to a breach of the peace.”

Told that the quartet only had more song to perform, Shayler says that he told Evans, “You might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. Get on with that one, and then it stops.”

Looking back, the former policeman says he has no regrets or concerns about how he managed the situation on the day. 

“Someone asked me how I felt being the man who stopped the Beatles’ concert – but I wouldn’t say that was true,” he tells the Mail. “I didn’t stop the Beatles. I merely suggested it would be a good idea if they didn’t carry on. If the Beatles had got stroppy or were determined to carry on, then things might have been different. But that wasn’t the way we worked in those days, and I always tried to resolve issues without arresting people.”

Screening in three parts, The Beatles: Get Back is streaming now on Disney+ for subscribers. Here's how to watch it and why.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.