Bea­tles mem­o­ries

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - ELISA BRAY

DAVID MAG­NUS was once told that he’d never make a pho­tog­ra­pher. But, at the age of 19, in 1963 he was in­vited to pho­to­graph the Bea­tles at Stowe School — the first of many as­sign­ments he’d un­der­take for the band. “They were ab­so­lutely charm­ing. They were great fun to be with and I found them very easy to work with through­out,” says Mag­nus, a mem­ber of Stan­more and Canons Park Syn­a­gogue

Mag­nus went on to pho­to­graph every­one from Gerry and the Pace- mak­ers to Cilla Black for NEMS En­ter­prises, the man­age­ment com­pany formed by Bea­tles man­ager Brian Ep­stein.

For the first time in his ca­reer, Mag­nus’s pho­to­graphs, many of which have never been seen, are be­ing ex­hib­ited. And at the heart of The Bea­tles Un­seen, at Proud Chelsea, is his ex­clu­sive shoot from the his­tor­i­cal live record­ing of All You Need Is Love for the BBC’s Our World on 25 June 1967, watched by 400 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide.

Mag­nus took un­usu­ally can­did pho­to­graphs of The Bea­tles re­lax­ing back­stage. “The best pic­tures that I ever took of them were that week­end. I think that was the clos­est I ever got to the Bea­tles pho­to­graph­i­cally be­cause it is nat­u­ral and un­posed as you see it.

“Th­ese photos re­veal, even in 1967, when they were at the height of their fame, how per­son­able, easy-go­ing and down-to-earth they were.

“I worked with them on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions and they trusted me. I was there so I sort of blended in.”

Look­ing at the photos — the psy­che­delic cos­tumes, abun­dance of flow­ers and bal­loons, and their smiles — gives a sense of the jovial party at­mos­phere that week­end. Mick Jag­ger hangs out with John Len­non (the band had in­vited an au­di­ence of starry friends), Paul McCart­ney and Len­non en­joy a cig­a­rette break, Ge­orge Martin is in the con­trol room, and there are some of the last photos taken of Ep­stein be­fore he died weeks later.

“From the mo­ment it started, it be­came a party”, re­calls Mag­nus. “Peo­ple were join­ing in and singing along — in­clud­ing me when I wasn’t tak­ing pic­tures. When it fin­ished, we all re­alised we’d wit­nessed some­thing very spe­cial. In life, you do have to have a bit of mazel; you have to be at the right place at the right time.”

Trav­el­ling with the band, he saw Beatle­ma­nia close up. One en­counter stands out: “I had been in one of the back dress­ing rooms and one of the fe­male stu­dio staff put her hand on my shoul­der and said ‘I must touch you — you’ve been in the same room as The Bea­tles.’ It was as if I car­ried this aura, this magic, tan­gi­ble thing. That, to me, was Beatle­ma­nia.”

It was only when his agent pointed out the 50th an­niver­sary of the BBC record­ing that he agreed to an ex­hi­bi­tion. Go to his home and you’ll find pic­tures of his grand­chil­dren, not the Bea­tles. You also won’t find Bea­tles mem­o­ra­bilia. He re­calls how, in the early days, the band would of­ten do in­ter­views in the of­fice.

“The Bea­tles would be with the jour­nal­ists and they would be writ­ing notes to each other, draw­ings, and at the end of the day ev­ery­body would leave, and Tony’s sec­re­tary would come in with a waste bas­ket and pick up all th­ese bits of pa­per and throw them away.”

It’s hard to fathom quite how much those plas­tic sacks full of Bea­tles doo­dles would be worth to­day. “It was a mo­men­tous time,” says Mag­nus. “I now look back at this ex­hi­bi­tion and think how lucky I was to be in­volved.”

‘The Bea­tles Un­seen: Pho­to­graphs by David Mag­nus’ is at Proud Chelsea, 16 March to 14 May www.proudon­line.co.uk

Tak­ing a break in the can­teen

PHOTOS: DAVID MAG­NUS

Brian Ep­stein looks on. He died soon af­ter

Paul McCart­ney dur­ing re­hearsals for All You Need Is Love

Paul McCart­ney writes a poster

McCart­ney and Len­non

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