Photographer Shot the Beatles the Day Before The Band Recorded "Hey Jude"
By Paul Iorio
He has smoked weed with The Beatles. He was with
Jimi Hendrix two days before he died. He calls
George Harrison "paranoid." And his
favorite Beatle is Ringo.
And, by the way, he also has a stash of primo photos of
the Beatles -- shot the day before the Fab Four
began studio sessions to record "Hey Jude" -- that
he didn't bother to release until earlier this
month, over four decades after the shoot.
The man is Stephen Goldblatt, a photographer and
Oscar-nominated cinematographer who was lucky enough
to have accompanied the Beatles around London on
July 28, 1968.
Goldblatt shot up 23 rolls of film that day but didn't
release his pics until this month; 25 are on display at
a gallery at the University of California, Berkeley, and
another 75 can be seen in a new limited-edition book from
To kick off the Fab Four photo exhibition, Goldblatt
narrated a slideshow at a campus auditorium
that was overflowing with Berkeley Beatlemaniacs last
When someone in the audience asked why he hadn't released the
photos before and "bought an island in the South Pacific
with the proceeds," Goldblatt replied: "I think you overestimate
the value of the pictures."
"I never kept them particularly hidden," he added. "I just
wasn't marketing them."
The picture that people remarked upon most at the
gallery was an eerily prescient shot of
John Lennon lying on the ground, as if mortally wounded,
while the other band members gathered around him.
Other photos show Starr wearing sunglasses and looking like
a classic movie star; the four at a fence with schoolchildren
(who were told not to stare at the band during the shoot);
a bare-chested McCartney in chains; and a shot of Lennon
and Yoko Ono, looking very '68.
At the time of the shoot, on July 28, 1968, the Beatles were
in the middle of recording the white album in sessions that
sprawled over almost five months.
But two months into the sessions, Paul McCartney came up
with "Hey Jude," which the band immediately
recorded and released as a non-album single.
(One of Goldblatt's photos shows McCartney playing
the piano as the others sing along to "Hey Jude.")
Shortly after the shoot, he gave up still photography
for years to became a cinematographer -- and a successful
one at that. He went on to earn two Oscar nominations (for
his work on "The Prince of Tides" and "Batman Forever").
"Cinematography is collaborative," he said. "Which is why I like
it. Still photography -- which is why I left it -- is so isolated."
* * * *
Ringo Starr in '68, looking very Hollywoodish.
* * * *
Photographer Stephen Goldblatt, narrating
a slide show of his previously unreleased
Beatles photos, on Friday night at the
University of California, Berkeley.
[photo by Paul Iorio]
"Mad Day Out," an exhibition of 25 previously unseen photos of
The Beatles by Stephen Goldblatt, can be seen at North Gate
Hall on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley,
through January 18, 2011.
NOTE TO EDITORS: [Other reporters have made the error of mis-reporting that the shots were taken after "Hey Jude" was released. Not true. The photo shoot was on the 28th of July; the recording sessions for "Hey Jude" happened from the 29th to the 31st. And the song itself wasn't released until late August.]