Thursday, 12 May 2016

MARK RICHMAN’s ‘HARD DAY´S NIGHT’ PHOTOGRAPHING BEATLES

Local longtime photographer and Frank Sinatra-style crooner Mark Richman has always been a major fan of popular culture icons, including Ol’ Blue Eyes, Jay Leno, and perhaps his all-time favorite, the Beatles. When the Beatles came to Busch Stadium on Aug. 21, 1966, Richman, then 20, managed to dash onto the ball field and blend in with the pool of photographers poised to shoot the Fab Four once they took the bandstand.
One of Mark Richman's color photographs taken during the Beatles’ visit to St. Louis in 1966.

Richman says his color photographs of the concert are the only close-up full-color photos of John, Paul, Ringo and George taken that famous night in St. Louis history—exactly 50 years ago as of Aug. 21.  Fittingly, Paul McCartney, a surviving member of the immortal quartet, will be at the current Busch Stadium this August (13th, to be exact) —and Richman, now 70, still a huge fan of the Beatles, plans to be there, camera in hand.
Needless to say, Richman, who for many years took photographs for the Jewish Light, is almost as excited about the upcoming McCartney show as he was on that August day 50 years ago.
According to a story at the time in the Post-Dispatch, a total of 23,143 “soaked spectators” were “screaming with joy” for the Beatles at the Busch concert. The St. Louis performance was the band’s third tour in the United States and St. Louis was the 10th of 14 cities in which they performed. Busch Memorial Stadium as it was then called, was only three months old at the time of the concert.  The Beatles performed earlier than planned because of the light rain that was falling.
The cost per tickets for the 1966 concert was $4.50, $5 and $5.50, as compared to the tickets for the upcoming McCartney concert ranging from $19.50 to $252.50, which went on sale April 15 and sold out within an hour.
Looking back on the major coup of his long career as a photographer, Richman recalls, “Back then, newspapers didn’t reproduce pictures in color. Photographs were shot on black and white film, and printed only in black and white. Just eight days after these rare color pictures were taken, the last Beatles tour would end in Candlestick Park.”
Richman was excited enough to have a ticket to the Beatles concert and was not even planning to take photos at the event.  “As I was walking from my house to my car, a little voice inside of me said, ‘Mark, go back and get your camera in case a miracle happens.’ ”
Richman describes the heart-pounding steps leading up to his sprint to join the photographers’ pool at the concert. He was talking to newspaper photographers who were assembled at the press gate waiting to be escorted across the field. 
“The security guard had released the photographers to go in to the field, and had told met go to my seat, somewhere on the other side of the stadium,” Richman notes. It was dark and raining, and Richman asked the guard how to get to his seat. The guard, Richman recalls, said, “Well, I sure as hell can’t take you. I’ll tell you what; I’m going to look the other way for about 30 seconds. If you’re gone when I look back, it’s not my problem.”
 At last the moment was at hand for Richman:  “In almost total darkness, I ran as fast as I could, looking down at the grass I was running, trying not to fall.  Finally I looked up, and there about 15 feet in front of me were John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Beatles.”
The Beatles, who were at the peak of their early career, were situated exactly on second base on a portable bandstand, which had been used for park concerts.  
Richman had one of Kodachrome color slide film and about a dozen flash bulbs.  
“I had to make every shot count, and had to be incredibly lucky at the same time,” Richman says. 
Richman sells a framed photomontage of 8x10 color photos from the concert, which includes copies of concert tickets and a handwritten playlist from that.

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