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Harry N. Abrams
Benson initially nixed schlepping to Paris to photograph a rock band. He preferred shooting breaking news. But his paper ordered him--and he got his most famous shot, of the Beatles having a pillow fight in their hotel. He got on well with the quartet, especially George Harrison, who subsequently didn't mind Benson showing up on a Barbados beach during his supposedly secret honeymoon with his first wife, Patti Boyd. Pictures from that occasion appear just beyond the center of an album otherwise depicting the Beatles commuting during the shooting of A Hard Day's Night, in Amsterdam in 1964, and on tour in the U.S. in 1964 and 1966. Benson's comments second others' opinions that the Beatles were willing performers and refresh memories of how closely they followed manager Brian Epstein's direction, and his energetic black-and-white pictures, most printed to fill entire 11-by-14-inch pages, of maximally keyed-up fans and four youngsters enjoying and enduring celebrity are historic as well as charming. (The guy sitting next to George on the train isn't Richard Lester, though.) Ray Olson
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About the Author
Harry Benson has had more than 30 one-man exhibitions of his work and has published numerous books, most recently Abrams' The President & Mrs. Reagan and Harry Benson: 50 Years in Pictures. He was twice named magazine photographer of the year by the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the National Press Photographers' Association and was twice the recipient of the Leica Medal of Excellence.
The Beatles are always in the news and in our hearts. February 2004 marks the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first trip to America, an historic event that was captured by the young photojournalist Harry Benson.
Benson was commissioned to accompany the Beatles to Paris in January 1964, where he took his famous photograph of the pillow fight the night they learned that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" had climbed to number one on the U.S. pop charts. He was with them on February 7, when they stepped out of their plane in New York and into the pandemonium of Beatlemania, American-style. In Miami, he introduced the Beatles to Muhammad Ali, and later that year he covered the filming of A Hard Day's Night. He was with them in Chicago in 1966, when John Lennon was quoted as saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, and covered their last tour as a band. He documented the eye of the hurricane: four guys in their twenties at the center of the known universe. This handsome, large-format book is a record of those amazing times.