MACCA’S FABS PHOTO ARCHIVE – LOST FOR 60 YEARS – IS COMING
SEEN THROUGH the back window of a car motoring down West 58th Street in February 1964, Beatles fans chase down the middle of the road. The striking black and white image, taken by Paul McCartney on the Fabs’ first, seismic trip to New York – and believed by him to be lost – vividly captures one of the first scenes of Beatlemania in the US. The next month, the band and director Richard Lester would recreate similar scenarios at Marylebone Station for their first film.
“Crowds chasing us in A Hard Day’s Night were based on moments like this,” McCartney remembers in upcoming photo book, 1964: Eyes Of The Storm, due in June at the same time as an accompanying exhibition opens at the National Portrait Galler y. Both will feature 275 35mm images, taken in Liverpool, London, Paris, Washington DC and Miami between December ’63 and February ’64.
The emergence of McCartney’s visual collection is a surprising one, given that Ringo Starr was considered the hobbying Beatles photographer. After Paul met Linda in 1967, he mostly left the camera to his partner, whose visual style he very much appreciated.
“The photographers she admired were people who got those off-the-cuff moments,” he remembered to The Guardian. “Walker Evans, [Henri] Cartier-Bresson, [Jacques Henri] Lartigue – where what they’re doing is a form of reportage that actually moved into art.”
McCartney’s own photographic style also tended towards the spontaneous. Scenes in the book and exhibition will include Starr taking a photograph as Lennon and Harrison look on in a London theatre, a series of Paris-shot selfies caught in a mirror, Harrison and Starr shirtless on a boat in Miami, and portraits of the ver y paparazzi that pursued them. “To look at the love and the wonder of what we went through that’s captured in a lot of these photographs is the whole thing,” McCartney says. “It was a wonderful sensation to be plunged right back.”
McCartney’s project also mirrors Starr’s 2013 book and 2015 NPG exhibition of his own snaps, Photograph. Macca rediscovered his own ’63-64 pictures in his archive in 2020 and approached NPG director Nicholas Cullinan with them. The collection recalls a dizzying time of radical change for McCartney, who notes that the Paris photos in particular document a return to a city “where John and I had been ordinar y hitchhikers three years before”.
Together, the book and the exhibition promise to be the centrepiece of what is shaping up to be a busy 2023 for McCartney. Along with Giles Martin revealing to MOJO that, ahead of last year’s Revolver redux, a paired revisiting of
Help! and Rubber Soul was in the planning stages, there is also the possibility of a Band
On The Run 50th anniversary box set. Meanwhile, sessions for a new McCartney album are already under way, including recordings with US producer Andrew Watt, who has recently worked with Iggy Pop and Morrissey. “We had some fun,” McCartney says of Watt. “I’ve recorded with a couple of people, so I’m looking forward to more.” 1964: Eyes Of The Storm is at the National Portrait Gallery from June 28 – October 1. The book is published by Penguin on June 13.
“Look at the love and the wonder of what we went through…” PAUL McCARTNEY