Friday 2 December 2016


At first, photographer Harry Benson said no to taking pictures of The Beatles.
It was 1964 and the Scottish-born photojournalist wanted to travel to Uganda for a story about its newfound independence, not take pictures of some British rock-and-roll band on its way up, which his editor had asked him to cover.

“I knew who The Beatles were, but they hadn’t had their big breakthrough yet,” Benson, now 87, tells PEOPLE.
His trip to Africa was not to be. At 11 p.m., the night before Benson was set to fly there, his editor at The Daily Express in London called him and told him that indeed, the big boss was sending him to Paris the next morning to photograph the band.
Any reservations Benson had faded the minute he heard The Beatles sing All My Loving in Paris, where they were performing just before they headed to the United States for the first time.

“I thought, ‘S—. I’m on the right story! This is the right story!’ The following day they were number one, two and three in America. They became a phenomenon.”
He also got up close and personal with The Beatles in Paris in 1964, capturing some of the most intimate photos ever taken of the band with his famous “Pillow Fight” picture.
While Benson and the Fab Four were staying at the swanky George V Hotel in Paris, he suggested that they have a pillow fight like the one they had had a few nights before.
“John Lennon said, ‘No, we’ll all look childish and silly.’ They all turned and said, ‘Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, yeah…’
“Paul’s sitting there, drinking a brandy. I stretch out on the settee. John slips away and comes up behind him and hits him with a pillow and that was it. Went on for about half an hour.”
He says he knew at that moment that these images would become iconic and that he would soon be leaving Fleet Street in London.
“What that picture meant was that I was coming to America,” he says. “That I was not going back.”

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