A remarkable photographic chronicle by legendary Life Magazine photojournalist Bill Eppridge of the Beatles’ historic 1964 visit to the United States
Photo Exhibit Of Beatles' First U.S. Tour At WCSU
By Susan Dunne
JANUARY 21, 2016
Bill Eppridge was sent on a photo assignment for Life Magazine on Feb. 7, 1964. Based on how his editor described the job, Eppridge had no way of knowing it would be one of the most important days of his career.
"Dick Pollard at Life told him 'go the airport, JFK, there's a rock group arriving called The Beatles,'" said Adrienne Aurichio, wife of the late photojournalist. "[Pollard] was not too impressed by them. He said for him to just get pictures of them arriving."
Eppridge, however, was impressed, not just by the four musicians, but also by the mob of fans. They were everywhere: against barricades, on the roof, inside and outside the terminal, most of them young girls, holding banners, reaching out to touch the stars, shrieking for all they were worth.
A fan outside the Plaza Hotel grabs guitar case belonging to one of the Beatles moments after the group was hurried inside, Feb. 7, 1964. (Bill Eppridge / Copyright Bill Eppridge)
"He told Dick 'this is kind of interesting, I'd like to stick with it for a few days,'" Aurichio said. "He was more interested in the reaction. He liked to see what people saw in them."
He tagged along on their U.S. journey for six days. That road trip was the basis for a 2014 book, "The Beatles: Six Days that Changed the World," with 148 pictures. That book has been condensed into a 55-item exhibit, which is on view now at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
Eppridge died in 2013 in Danbury, after living his last years in New Milford. Aurichio, who was married to him for 16 years, curated the exhibit.
On Feb. 7, 1964, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr arrived at JFK and held a press conference, then went to the Plaza Hotel in New York City, where they monitored their publicity. On Feb. 8, a sick Harrison missed a Central Park photo op, then he joined the boys at a rehearsal at the Ed Sullivan theater. On Feb. 9, they rehearsed, performed on Sullivan's show and had dinner at the Playboy Club. On Feb. 10, a reception at the Plaza was attended by reporters and DJs. On Feb. 11, the Beatles took a train to Washington, D.C., met the press at the Coliseum, performed a concert and went to a party at the British Embassy. On Feb. 12, they took a train back to New York's Penn Station and performed at Carnegie Hall.
The Beatles with the WMCA "Good Guys" radio DJs, at a press reception, Plaza Hotel, Feb. 10, 1964. (Bill Eppridge / ©The Estate of Bill Eppridge)
After that point the Beatles went to Florida to perform, and Eppridge handed the assignment over to another photographer. "He was the sort of person who, when he felt that he had the story, he didn't want to do it again," Aurichio said.
Eppridge's photos convey madness with a few moments of quiet. They show teenagers crazed to the point of criminality, a crush of cops, photographers and reporters, a swag merchant who misspelled the group's name, and the band's handlers: manager Brian Epstein, press agent Brian Sommerville and road manager Neil Aspinall. Aspinall got the ultimate fantasy bucket-list job: standing in for George at a rehearsal. In the center of it all are the unflappable foursome, who seemed to enjoy most hanging out with DJs.
"With the DJs, suddenly they look like little kids amongst their idols," Aurichio said. "[The DJs] were their heroes because they played their music."
Some of Eppridge's photos call to mind "A Hard Day's Night," the movie the Beatles made based on their own experiences. Besides The Beatles, other celebrities appear frequently in his photos, most prominently the "fifth Beatle," DJ Murray the K; the legendary documentarians the Maysles brothers; and photojournalist Eddie Adams, who five years later took the unforgettable photo of a Vietnamese man being executed.
Eppridge worked in Vietnam, too, and he covered Robert F. Kennedy's presidential run up until the day of Kennedy's assassination. He covered Woodstock and the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. But the Beatles assignment always held a special place in his career and his heart. Aurichio compared Eppridge's experiences with those of photojournalists today.
"You can't do this now. We can't get close to rock stars. They all want to control everything," she said. "He had six whole days of watching the drama unfold."
"THE BEATLES: SIX DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD" will be at the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury, until March 13. Details: 203-837-8403 or 203-837-8889.
Copyright © 2016, Hartford Courant
(Bill Eppridge / ©The Estate of Bill Eppridge)
Vendor with misspelled "Beetles" souvenir buttons, at the Washington Coliseum, on Feb. 11, 1964.
New York City police gather outside the Plaza Hotel in the evening, Feb. 7, 1964.
The Beatles at the Sunday dress rehearsal for Ed Sullivan show, Feb. 9, 1964.
The Beatles during a photo op while preparing to perform on the Ed Sullivan show. It was taken Feb. 8, 1964.
A photograph of Bill Eppridge, 2007.
(Brien Aho / Courtesy Adrienne Aurichio)
SIX DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
EPPRIDGE’S TIMELESS LOOK AT THE FAB FOUR
by Brian Goslow
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
Danbury, Connecticut – It was, inarguably, one of those moments in which everything changed. On February 9, 1964, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time, setting Beatlemania into full gear and sparking a cultural shift that still echoes today. Photojournalist Bill Eppridge documented the Fab Four’s first tour of the United States for Life magazine, taking “Three thousand images on 90 rolls of film” — only four of which ended up being printed in the publication at the time.
“Bill was in the Life magazine offices early on the day that the Beatles were scheduled to arrive at JFK Airport,” said Eppridge’s wife, Adrienne Aurichio. “The director of photography, Dick Pollard, saw Bill and asked him if he wanted to shoot their arrival. It was not planned as a six-day assignment. Bill turned it into that when he saw what was happening at the airport. He was intrigued by the excitement of the fans that came out to see the Beatles, and sensed a historical moment. When he saw the Beatles emerge from the plane, he knew he had to shoot a story.
“As soon as the press conference was over, he phoned the office and asked if he could stick with them. The magazine encouraged the photographers to ‘self-assign,’ as Bill liked to describe it. He and Life reporter Gail Cameron were invited along by the Beatles, and probably by their manager, Brian Epstein. Life magazine had a tremen- dous reputation in those days, and to be featured in Life was a big deal. Remember, the Beatles had never been to the United States, and they were not sure what to expect, either.”
The collection of images then disappeared for eight years, only to suddenly reappear on Eppridge’s desk without explanation. They wouldn’t be fully revis- ited again until early this decade when Aurichio went through each and every one of them in putting together the book, “The Beatles: Six Days That Changed the World” (Rizzoli), the title of which is also the name of an exhibition of 55 black- and-white photos from that 1964 tour on view at Western Connecticut State University beginning January 19.
“Bill liked to tell a story through his photographs,” Aurichio said. “The first thing we had to establish was the timeline of how he shot the story, and where the photographs fit on each of the six days that he spent with the Beatles. Life had a negative numbering system, which made it easier to organize all the negatives. From there, we recon- structed the six days, and then picked the best photographs from each day. That is a matter of content and compo- sition. You need both of those together for great photographs.”
Aurichio co-curated the exhibition with Wade Lawrence of the Museum at Bethel Woods (which sits on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair) where the exhibit was first shown in April 2014. “We got together months after Bill had passed away and went through the book to determine which photographs would best represent the entire story,” she said. “The Museum had only enough wall space for 55 prints, which were framed to 20” x 24” size.”
Eppridge passed away in 2013 after a heralded career that included covering the Civil Rights Movement, Woodstock
WCSU show features Eppridge photo chronicle of Beatles’ 1964 US visit
Gallery exhibition Jan. 19-March 13 to present iconic images by legendary Life photographer
The Beatles wait to arrive, Union Station,
D.C. Feb 10, 1964.
Copyright Bill Eppridge
DANBURY, CONN. — A remarkable photographic chronicle by legendary Life Magazine photojournalist Bill Eppridge of the Beatles’ historic 1964 visit to the United States will be featured in a Western Connecticut State University Art Gallery exhibition that will open Tuesday, Jan. 19, and continue through Saturday, March 13, 2016, at the university’s Visual and Performing Arts Center.
A collection of 55 black-and-white photographs taken by Eppridge during his coverage for Life of the British rock group’s visit to New York and Washington from Feb. 7 through 12, 1964, will be shown in the exhibition, “The Beatles: Six Days That Changed the World,” sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art. An opening reception will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, in the Art Gallery at the arts center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Reservations to attend the free public reception may be made on the VPAC events Web page at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com.
Eppridge, who resided in New Milford in his later years, died in October 2013 in Danbury after an extraordinary career as a photojournalist spanning 60 years. He is widely recognized for capturing iconic images of contemporary history including the Beatles’ Feb. 9, 1964, appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and the poignant image on June 6, 1968, of a busboy kneeling beside the mortally wounded Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen moments after his assassination. “You are not just a photojournalist,” he said in recalling the Kennedy image. “You’re a historian.”
Yet the WCSU exhibition of selections from his 1964 Beatles tour photo shoot, which consumed more than 90 rolls of film and 3,000 photographs, would have been impossible without the mysterious recovery of these images seven years after they went missing and the painstaking work of Eppridge’s editor and wife, Adrienne Aurichio, to review and organize this vast photo archive into a comprehensive record of the Beatles’ tour as it unfolded.
Aurichio recalled in a 2014 essay for CBS News marking the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance that the 26-year-old Eppridge found himself in the right place on the morning of Feb. 7, 1964, to draw the assignment from Life Magazine photography director Dick Pollard to cover the Beatles’ arrival that day at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He followed the Beatles as Life’s photo correspondent throughout the first six days of their U.S. tour, shooting spontaneous images documenting performances, rehearsals and private moments during the tour that established the group as an international rock ‘n’ roll sensation.
At the time, Life Magazine published just four of the images from Eppridge’s assignment, and the original film submitted to the Time-Life photo lab for processing could not be located when he attempted several months later to retrieve the images. By his account, at least seven years passed before the film turned up on his desk with no explanation of how it had been recovered.
Aurichio’s role in re-creating Eppridge’s Life photo chronicle of the 1964 Beatles tour began in 1993 when she came across one of his prints from the shoot while researching photographs for a magazine project. Intrigued at the prospect of discovering more photos from the Beatles visit, she soon learned the full story of Eppridge’s recovered film chronicle, which provided the images featured in the WCSU exhibition and in the book, “The Beatles: Six Days That Changed the World,” released in 2014 by Rizzoli Publishing. In his acknowledgments for the book, Eppridge noted that Aurichio played a critical part as co-editor in “piecing together my story. I relied on her vision and experience as an editor to research and unravel the photographs, and then pull them together in chronological order.”
Aurichio observed that Eppridge’s photographs of the Beatles’ 1964 visit reflect the fact that “he made pictures as they happened, never staging anything. The pictures are so personal. You know that there were other photographers and media around, but Bill had a way of focusing in on his subjects — excluding the distractions. You feel like Bill was the only photographer there.”
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1938, Eppridge grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and became interested in photography at an early age, beginning his career as a sports photographer for a local newspaper at the age of 15. In 1959 he earned his first award for photography in the National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year competition. The following year he graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism with honors as “College Photographer of the Year.” Upon graduation he landed an internship at Life Magazine, which led to a yearlong around-the-world photo assignment for National Geographic and a coveted position as staff photographer for Life from 1964 to 1972. During his tenure at Life, he covered many of the most noteworthy public figures and historical events of the era, from the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War to the Woodstock music festival and drug addiction in New York.
After Life closed at the end of 1972, Eppridge served as a photojournalist for other national publications including Time and Sports Illustrated magazines. The numerous professional recognitions for his work included the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, the highest honor given by the National Press Photographers Association. His photographs have been shown in exhibitions across the United States, featured in a major show at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and included in shows at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
For more information, call the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403, the Art Gallery at (203) 837-8889, or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
The Beatles - 1964
Bill Eppridge was only a few years older than each of the Beatles when he photographed their arrival at John F. Kennedy airport on February 7, 1964. He was then invited to continue shooting in their room at the Plaza Hotel and during the days that followed, notably at the Ed Sullivan Show rehearsal and historic performance; in Central Park; on a train ride to Washington, D.C., for the concert at the Washington Coliseum; at the British embassy; and at their renowned performance at Carnegie Hall. "One morning my boss said, 'Look, we've got a bunch of British musicians coming into town. They're called the Beatles. These were four very fine young gentlemen, and great fun to be around," Eppridge recalled. After he introduced himself to Ringo, who consulted with John, the group asked what he wanted them to do while being photographed for Life. "I'm not going to ask you to do a thing," was Eppridge's reply. "I just want to be here." --Bill Eppridge His career as a Life magazine photojournalist was just beginning.
Over the next several years, he would photograph many significant moments in our collective history, including the presidential campaign and assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the war in Vietnam, the discovery of slain civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, the Woodstock concert in 1969, the Soviet Union during the Cold War years, and some of the most famous people in the world.
Copies of the new book "The Beatles: Six Days that Changed the World" are available from the gallery
Beatles arrive JFK Airport, New York, February 7, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Beatles Press Conference. Copyright Bill Eppridge
The Beatles at the Plaza Hotel, February 7, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Paul McCartney, Plaza Hotel, NYC, Feb 7, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Paul McCartney on the Phone, Plaza Hotel, NYC, Feb 7, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Ringo Starr, Plaza Hotel, NYC, Feb 7, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr, Plaza Hotel, NYC, Feb 7, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Beatles' Boots, Ed Sullivan Theater, Feb 8, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
The Beatles Perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, Feb 9, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Ringo Starr & John Lennon, Central Park Photo OP, Feb 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Ringo, Paul, John. Central Park Photo OP. Feb 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Ringo & Paul. Central Park Photo OP. Feb 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Beatles Ride the Train to D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
George & John. Train to D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
John Lennon. Train to D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
Ringo with Press Photographer's Gear. Train to D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
George wearing Train Porter's Jacket. Train to D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
George climbs Luggage Rack. Train to D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
The Beatles wait to arrive, Union Station, D.C. Feb 10, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
The Beatles play Carnegie Hall, New York City. Feb 12, 1964. Copyright Bill Eppridge
The Beatles arrive, February 7, 1964, New York
The Beatles at the Plaza Hotel, February 7, 1964.
John Lennon at the Plaza, Feb. 7, 1964
Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney greet the press at the Plaza Hotel in New York, February 1964