It was 51 years ago Sunday (April 11th, 1970) that the Beatles' “Let It Be,” hit Number One. The track, which was the group's final single in America prior to breaking up, was actually over a year old, having been recorded on January 31st, 1969, during the group's ill-fated “Get Back” sessions, which were originally conceived as a TV special chronicling the Beatles' stage comeback. The sessions instead became the Let It Be movie, which revealed the disintegration of the band. “Let It Be,” along with its companion piece “The Long And Winding Road,” was written by Paul McCartney in late-1968 near the end of the Beatles' “White Album” sessions. He began writing the song after waking from a dream featuring his mother, Mary, who had died of cancer when he was 14.
McCartney recalled the song in his 1997 official biography Many Years From Now, saying, “Mother Mary makes it a quasi-religious thing, so you can take it that way. I don't mind. I'm quite happy if people want to use it to shore up their faith. I think it's great to have faith of any sort, particularly in the world we live in… Looking back on the Beatles' work I'm glad that most of it was a positive force. . . they're such symbols of optimism and hopefulness.”
The song featured McCartney on piano and lead vocal, John Lennon on bass and backing vocal, George Harrison on lead guitar and backing vocal, Ringo Starr on drums, and Billy Preston on organ.