Paul’s photo book
Photographs and reflections of Paul McCartney
“Millions of eyes were suddenly upon us, creating a picture I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
It’s no shock that Paul McCartney is a guy who keeps his stuff. We have seen him in clothes that also wore in the sixties, and he has bought and collected equipment the Beatles used in Abbey Road. The green guitar amplifier he brought to Hamburg in 1960 is in his studio in Sussex and still in use. The first Beatles bass drum head with the long T also hangs on a wall there. Now, a book is due to be published with photos he took in 1964. The Americans are still the biggest audience for Paul and The Beatles, and the modern releases are primarily aimed at them.
For the so-called “baby boomers” – the generation in the USA who became Beatles fans – it is one TV moment that is central – when many young people discovered the British quartet. For us Scandinavians, it was perhaps the Beatles’ appearance on the Swedish youth program “Drop-In” which introduced the group to us in late 1963, for Americans it was the variety program Ed Sullivan Show. This was not a youth program, but rather a program for the whole family, with different acts aimed at different age groups. Anyway, for those who were young (youngsters, as Ed said) at the time, the Beatles’ performance on February 9, 1964 is perhaps the television moment they relate to the most, and still reminisce about. And Paul’s new book documents the occasion with photos he took himself, the build-up and the aftermath.
The write-up for this book has it that in Paul’s archives a collection of nearly a thousand photographs was “rediscovered” in 2020. Paul took these pictures himself, with his 35mm camera. The pictures are from the months towards the end of 1963 and the beginning of 1964, and after the band’s first visit to the USA. The photos are McCartney’s personal from this explosive time, as he says, was in the “eye of the storm”. “In the eye of the hurricane” was an expression used in The Beatles’ Anthology. It is quiet there in the midst of it, while around the “eye” there is chaos.
Some of our readers may recall that in 2010, HP started working on digitising Paul McCartney’s archives. The archive is stored in a private cloud for Paul himself, and friends and family.
The book “1964: Eyes of the Storm” presents 275 of McCartney’s photographs from the six cities the Beatles were in during the period the pictures are from. It starts in Liverpool, over to London, then there was a week of playing at L’Olympia in Paris where they were told that “I Want To Hold Your Hand” had gone to the top of the US singles charts. Fortunately, they were already booked on Ed Sullivan’s show and so they travelled to New York for the show, taped a few songs with a different audience to be televised later, travelled by train to give a concert in Washington, D.C. which was filmed, another slow train brought them back to New York for a concert at the Carnegie Hall, and then over to the sunny climate and a new Ed Sullivan Show to record in Miami – the Deauville hotel where the show was broadcast from was recently demolished, by the way.
Among the photographs Paul took are plenty of never-before-published portraits of bandmates John, George and Ringo. In his Foreword and Introductions to these “city portfolios”, McCartney remembers “what else can you call it – pandemonium” and conveys his impressions of Britain and America in 1964 – the moment when the culture changed and the Sixties really began.
Publisher : Allen Lane (13 Jun. 2023)
Language : English
Hardcover : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 0241619718
ISBN-13 : 978-0241619711
Dimensions : 24.8 x 24.5 x 28.5 cm
In conjunction with the photo discovery, a major exhibition, the National Portrait Gallery in London will display an extraordinary archive of rediscovered and never-before-seen photographs taken by Paul at the height of Beatlemania.
The exhibition is on from 28 June to 1 October 2023. Tickets available now.