In 1964, photographer Harry Benson was boarding a plane to cover a news story in Africa when he received a phone call instructing him to go to Paris and shoot a Liverpudlian rock group instead.
It was a call that would forever change his life. Benson would go on to shoot some of the most intimate photographs ever captured of the Beatles in their early years of fame. Check out some of the incredible shots below.
Harry Benson is the photographer behind some of the most intimate images of The Beatles, his photos tracing their growing fame in the mid-1960s.
Just before departing for Africa, Benson received a phone call from the photo editor of the London newspaper, The Daily Express, who told him to change his assignment and travel plans. Yet, at first, Benson didn’t want to go.
“I took myself for a serious journalist and I didn’t want to cover a rock ’n’ roll story,” he has since recalled.
However, after meeting the band, he realised he had made the right decision. “I thought, ‘God, I’m on the right story.’”
Once in Paris, Benson documented the rapidly expanding French Beatlemania. Introduced to the band’s inner circle, he was offered unparalleled access to the inside world of the young band.
Some of the images include the infamous photo of their pillow fight at the George V Hotel, listed as one of the 100 most influential photos by Time Magazine. The photo was taken the night before the band found out that I Want to Hold Your Hand had reached No. 1 in the U.S.
Other photos cover the band’s iconic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, a frenzied US tour, as well as meeting with the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, and much more.
“These photos convey a really happy period for them and for me,” Benson has described. “It all comes down to music‚ they were without a doubt the greatest band of the 20th century‚ and that’s why these photographs are so important.”
Hundreds of Benson’s black and white images have been collected into a limited edition book published by Taschen, titled The Beatles.
Check out some of Benson’s photos below, as well as a video from Time delving into the iconic pillow fight shot.