It’s gone down in Beatles lore as one of the great what-ifs of all time. After the band turned down one promoter after another offering millions of dollars, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels came so close to finally convincing the Beatles to reunite — well, two of them anyway: John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was thanks to a hilarious stunt that Michaels pulled on an SNL broadcast 45 years ago, in 1976. This came just a few years after the events depicted in The Beatles: Get Back, the highly anticipated three-part docuseries from director Peter Jackson that lands on Disney Plus next week.
“A certified check, for three … thousand dollars”
45 years ago today, SNL producer Lorne Michaels makes an on-air offer to pay the Beatles $3000 to reunite live on the show.
John Lennon later says he and Paul McCartney were watching together in NYC and THIS close to walking to the studio unannounced, but were too tired. pic.twitter.com/FzP0klmJEG
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) April 25, 2021
Promoters had thought big sums of money would do the trick. Michaels, however, figured an appeal to the group’s sense of humor might have a better chance of succeeding. And so, on an SNL broadcast that you can watch at the bottom of this post, he made his appeal.
I’ll describe some of what transpired, just in case the video below ever gets pulled from YouTube. “Hi, I’m Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night,” he says, right at the top of the segment. “Right now, we’re being seen by approximately 22 million viewers. But please allow me, if I may, to address myself to four very special people. John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The Beatles.”
Lately, Michaels continues, rumors have swirled to the effect that the band might be getting back together. He acknowledges and welcomes the news, given how special and one-of-a-kind the band was. “It’s for this reason that I’m inviting you to come on our show.” It’s also been said, he adds, “that no one’s been able to come up with enough money to satisfy you.”
And then he puts his offer on the table. “If it’s money you want, there’s no problem here. The National Broadcasting Company has authorized me to offer you a certified check for three … thousand dollars.”
What might have been
The audience explodes into laughter. Michaels presses on, maintaining his composure.
“Here it is,” he says, brandishing an actual check made out to The Beatles for, yes, $3,000. “Can we get a close-up of this, Dave?
“All you have to do is sing three Beatles tunes. She loves you — yeah, yeah, yeah? That’s $1,000, right there. You know the words, it’ll be easy.” And the members, he adds, can divide the check any way they choose. “If you want to give Ringo less? That’s up to you.”
What’s so great about this bit of SNL history is that, just a few blocks away, Lennon was actually in his New York City apartment at the time. He was watching the broadcast live. And it just so happened that McCartney was in town, decided to visit Lennon, and he was there, too, watching the show with Lennon. Reportedly, the pair thought the offer was clever enough that they thought momentarily about hopping into a taxi to head down to the show. The story goes, however, that they ultimately decided they were just too tired and, no pun intended, decided to let it be.
Peter Jackson’s Beatles docuseries
Be that as it may, for tens of millions of Beatles fans around the world, next week’s
For most of us, the series will entail footage we’ve never seen before. Footage that’s actually been more or less collecting dust in a vault for 50 years.
The original Let it Be album was meant to be accompanied by a making-of documentary. The way that original movie was cut together, though, it ended up resembling not so much the creation of the album as the dissolution of The Beatles. Jackson, all these years later, was tasked with re-editing the movie — not to tell a different story, but a more complete one. And he included a ton of footage Beatles fans will be enjoying for the first time.
Watch the first clip from #TheBeatlesGetBack and experience Peter Jackson’s three-part event beginning November 25 on @DisneyPlus. #letitbe @johnlennon @paulmccartney @georgeharrison @ringostarrmusic pic.twitter.com/GczRbz9Eay
— The Beatles (@thebeatles) November 12, 2021
Even better: The
The time Lorne Michaels tried to reunite The Beatles
Here, meanwhile, is the clip we talked about above. SNL’s Lorne Michaels, attempting to do the impossible. So incredible to think about what might have been.