search button
newscenter logo
Monday, March 20, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

Cover of Ken Mansfield's book "The Roof: The Beatles' Final Concert" Cover of Ken Mansfield's book "The Roof: The Beatles' Final Concert"

No Encores

An SDSU alumnus remembers being there at the Beatles' final concert.
By Tom Kertscher

This story was featured in the spring 2019 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University.

It was January 1969, a little more than a year before the announcement of the Beatles’ breakup, and the nearly fractured band was debating about where to do one final show. The Sahara Desert, the Pyramids of Giza and the QE2 ocean liner were floated as possibilities. Ultimately, the show occurred in London on the rooftop of the building that housed Apple Records, the Beatles’ label.

Ken Mansfield ('61), author of “The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert,” was there in the small audience.

“There was lot of dissension at that time, a lot of chaos in the band,” recalled Mansfield, a Beatles insider who ran Apple Records’ operations in the United States. “But when they struck that first chord, something happened. They had this look like, ‘Yeah, this is us; it doesn’t matter what’s going down. We’re mates, we’ve been together a long time, and what we really are is a rock ‘n’ roll band and a good group of friends.’ That live concert was just kind of old Beatles, what they were all about all along.”

“The Roof,” Mansfield’s seventh book and his third on the Beatles, was released in November 2018, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the final show.

Real people

“I wanted people to realize that these were real people,” he said of his goal for the book. “There was a camaraderie, there was work to be done, there was absolute chaos, there was madness, there was great affection between the people. History was being made all the time, and we weren’t even aware of it.”

The scene on the rooftop that day was like no other, as Mansfield writes in the book:

London was the center of cutting-edge music, and in the neighboring buildings of this vibrant city, secretaries, bankers, wool merchants, and deliverymen alike were jolted alive by the rockin’ that was rollin’ off the Apple rooftop. Everyone within a mile of that place will proudly state for the rest of their lives that they were there the day the music came wafting down the streets, echoing and slamming up against the red brick buildings.

Launching pad

San Diego State University was a launching pad for Mansfield, who grew up in Idaho.

“I got there and walked in the door at the ‘teek’ (Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity) house and there I was, a kind of an oddball in a way because I’m a cowboy out of Idaho. But I found acceptance right away, and I was a hard worker.”

Mansfield became the TKE president, the homecoming chair and president of his senior class. ”Something about State just opened me up, something I never dreamed about,” he said.

The SDSU alumnus got into the music business immediately after earning his degree in marketing. His career as a record company executive included stints with Capitol Records, CBS’ Barnaby Records and MGM. He worked with the Beach Boys, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Steve Miller, Bob Seger and scores of others.

“My number one thing was naiveté because I didn’t know that I couldn’t accomplish these things. I didn’t realize how tough the business was, and how ridiculously crazy it was the way I shot up in the business,” he said. “Coming off of an Indian reservation in northern Idaho and ending up on the roof with the Beatles.”