These images of The Beatles were made by my father, Curt Gunther, during the group’s first tour of the United States and Canada in 1964. Curt met the Beatles while photographing them in Europe, and was subsequently invited to be their official tour photographer. As such, he traveled and lived with the band throughout the tour, witnessing and documenting all aspects of what is now regarded as nothing less than a global counter-cultural phenomenon.
Curt captured The Beatles on film as they were experiencing and enjoying their anointment as international celebrities. He witnessed and recorded the frenzy of airports, limos and performance venues, as well as quiet, intimate moments, relaxing backstage and in hotel rooms.
The Beatles did not travel with a corps of reporters or press photographers. From HARRISON, by the editors of Rolling Stone (2002): “it was only because of his persistence and his sterling reputation that photojournalist Curt Gunther was ultimately allowed on board…The photographer passed away in 1991, but in Fifty Years Adrift, the Beatles’s former press agent Derek Taylor remembered, ‘Every day Curt Gunther, drawing deeply on a mentholated cigarette (Salem), his wise and cunning old eyes boring into mine, would say, ‘Derek, we gotta have some special pictures, something original.’ When the band visited a Missouri ranch, Gunther found an old wood and iron door that he considered the perfect backdrop. ‘There she is’, he said of the setup. ‘That’s the picture I want to make. Then I die happy.’”
For the most part, these photographs have rarely been seen or published. Twenty-five years ago my dad gave me (already a professional photographer myself) the negatives of these pictures in the hope that I would save, protect and one day, make prints from them. Originally shot on Kodak Tri-x film, I recently scanned selected images and printed them on an Epson 9900 inkjet printer. The Beatles photographs are printed on Canson Paper, Platine Fibre Rag and Rag Photographique, the finest photographic art paper available today.
- Steve Gunther, October 2010