LONDON (AFP) – Beatles album Abbey Road is back at No. 1 in Britain half a century after its first release, with the band breaking their own record for the longest gap between stints at the top of the chart.

Their final studio album with its instantly recognisable zebra-crossing cover came out in September 1969, six days after John Lennon told his bandmates he was leaving.

It was Britain’s best-selling album for 17 weeks, and on Friday (Oct 4), a special 50th-anniversary edition featuring unheard material took the top spot once again.

“It’s hard to believe that Abbey Road still holds up after all these years. But then again it’s a bloody cool album,” tweeted band member Paul McCartney.

With 49 years and 252 days since its last reign, the album has had the longest gap between British number ones – a record previously held by the Fab Four’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Two years ago, a 50th-anniversary edition of Sgt Pepper, which Rolling Stone magazine has named as the greatest album of all time, headed the chart again after 49 years and 125 days.

Last month, hundreds of Beatles fans mobbed the street outside Abbey Road Studios in north-west London to celebrate five decades since the band were snapped at the pedestrian crossing there.

The photograph of Lennon leading Ringo Starr, McCartney and George Harrison over the road in single file became an all-time classic when it appeared on the Abbey Road sleeve.