Saturday, November 13, 2010

Previously Unseen Beatles Photos Released

Photographer Shot the Beatles the Day Before The Band Recorded "Hey Jude"

By Paul Iorio

Photographer Stephen Goldblatt, narrating
a slide show of his previously unreleased
Beatles photos, on Friday night at the
University of California, Berkeley.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

At an appearance at the University of California at

Berkeley on Friday night, photographer Stephen

Goldblatt talked about a stash of gold he had kept

private for over four decades.

Gold in the form of photographs he shot of the Beatles

in '68 -- on the day before the band recorded

"Hey Jude" -- and hadn't released until this month.

On Friday, twenty-five of the pics went on display at a U.C.

campus gallery, where they'll be until Janaury 18th.

And Goldblatt kicked off the event with a slide show

of the 25 pics (plus another 75 originals) and a Q&A session

in an auditorium overflowing with Berkeley Beatlemaniacs.

The crowd packed every aisle and even sat on the stage

and stood in the hallways leading to Sibley Auditorium.

Goldblatt, though, seemed to wonder what all the

fuss was about.

When someone in the audience asked why he hadn't released the

photos before and "bought an island in the South Pacific

with the proceeds," Goldblatt answered: "I think you overestimate

the value of the pictures."

"I never kept them particularly hidden," he added. "I just

wasn't marketing them."

His memories of the Fab Four fascinated the crowd as

much as the photos did. He confessed to having smoked

marijuana with the band. He said that Paul McCartney

was clearly the leader of the group at that stage -- and

John Lennon was "friendly" and "very easy to get along with."

He said his favorite Beatle is Ringo Starr and that

George Harrison was a bit standoffish.

"Of the four, [Harrison] was more distant, and, to me,

more paranoid," he said.

Goldblatt's photos, now collected in a limited

edition book from Fotovision, are sure to be riveting to

any Beatles fan. The picture that people remarked upon

most at the gallery was an eerily prescient shot of

Lennon lying on the ground, as if mortally wounded,

while the other band members gathered around him.

Other photos show Starr wearing sunglasses and looking like

a classic movie star; the four at a fence with schoolchildren

(who were told not to stare at the band during the shoot);

a bare-chested McCartney in chains; and a shot of Lennon

and Yoko Ono, looking very '68.

At the time of the shoot, on July 28, 1968, the Beatles were

in the middle of recording the white album in sessions that

sprawled over almost five months.

But two months into the sessions, McCartney came up

with "Hey Jude," which the band immediately

recorded and released as a non-album single.

(One of Goldblatt's photos shows McCartney playing

the piano as the others sing along to "Hey Jude.")

Goldblatt shot 23 rolls of film that day as he

accompanied the band to various locations in London

(he says there was only one other photographer there

that day). Shortly after the shoot, he gave up still photography

for years to became a cinematographer -- and a successful

one at that. He went on to earn two Oscar nominations (for

his work on "The Prince of Tides" and "Batman Forever").

"Cinematography is collaborative," he said. "Which is why I like

it. Still photography -- which is why I left it -- is so isolated."

Perhaps the most talked-about photo of the
Goldblatt exhibition, this one shows John
Lennon lying on the ground as if mortally wounded.
[photo of Goldblatt photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Ringo Starr, looking very Hollywoodish.
[photo of Goldblatt photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

"Mad Day Out," an exhibition of 25 previously unseen photos of
The Beatles by Stephen Goldblatt, can be seen at North Gate
Hall on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley,
through January 18, 2011.


NOTE TO EDITORS: [Other reporters have made the error of mis-reporting that the shots were taken after "Hey Jude" was released. Not true. The photo shoot was on the 28th of July; the recording sessions for "Hey Jude" happened from the 29th to the 31st. And the song itself wasn't released until late August.]