It was 26 years ago tonight (November 19th, 1995) that The Beatles Anthology premiered on ABC-TV. The three surviving Beatles, with the full cooperation of John Lennon's wife Yoko Ono, teamed up to produce the mini-series, which featured contemporary interviews with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, as well as archival interviews with Lennon.
The project actually began almost immediately after the group's breakup in the spring of 1970. The Beatles' late right-hand man, Neil Aspinall, began compiling raw footage for the documentary, which was originally going to be called The Long And Winding Road. The doc, which was always on the group's back burner, was even mentioned by Lennon during a 1980 deposition in a lawsuit against the producers of the Broadway musical Beatlemania. Lennon went on record at the time as saying that the group would eventually reunite to cap off the documentary.
Flash forward a quarter-century, to when the group's story was spread out over three nights, with the first night world premiering the first all-new Beatles song in over 25 years, called “Free As A Bird.” The song was originally an unfinished home demo recording by Lennon from 1977. In 1994, at McCartney's request, Yoko Ono presented the former Beatles with a total of four Lennon demos. Along with “Free As A Bird,” McCartney, Harrison, and Starr recorded another Lennon song called “Real Love.”