Harry Benson's best photograph: the Beatles pillow-fighting

Friday, February 14, 2014

I was meant to be going to Uganda to do a big news story for the Daily Express but, at the last minute, the paper called and said they wanted me to shoot the Beatles in Paris instead. I considered myself a serious journalist, so I managed to talk them out of it. I knew who the Beatles were, but it was early in 1964 and they had yet to have their big breakthrough. I wasn't interested in running around with them.

Five minutes later, the editor called and told me I was going whether I liked it or not. So I caught up with them in Fontainebleau, where they were doing a warm-up gig before the big Paris show. I went out to my car to get an extension for my flash and, when I got back, they were playing All My Loving. It was sensational. I thought: "Christ, this is it – the breakthrough." The music story had become a news story. From then on, I made sure I stayed close to them. When we were in their hotel suite later, one of them said: "That was some pillowfight we had the other night." When I suggested photographing them having another, John said: "No, we'll look silly and childish." Paul was having a brandy – he always ordered expensive drinks – and John crept up behind him and hit him on the head with a pillow. And then it took off. I like the fact Paul is hitting John and John is hitting George. 

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Source: The Guardian, UK

Photo Credit: Harry Benson

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