Today marks the birthday of two of my music icons John Lennon and Jackson Browne. John would have been 76 years old if he had not been killed. Their songs have given me happiness and comfort throughout my life. When I first really discovered music during my prepubescent years, it was the music of Beatles that resonated with me. It woke me up and gave me a sense of belonging along with millions of others inflicted with Beatlemania. As time went by their music changed as they became more experimental and the world changed as well.
I recently saw Ron Howard’s film, “Eight Days of the Week” the other night. It was about the Beatle’s touring years. It was beautifully edited and the sound was superb and I looked at it with the eyes and the appreciation of a grown woman who was now a photographer and filmmaker. It gave me a new perspective about their early days than the one I had when I was a smitten preteen. Back then I was just another young girl who was overwhelmed by these lads from Liverpool.
I had attended both of the Beatles concerts when they played Shea Stadium in 1965 & ‘66. Even though I had been there it was the first time that I had actually heard what the Beatles played that night. My family had just moved from Rochester, NY to the NYC area and my dad had somehow obtained 4 tickets to the show in his company’s box seats at Shea. It will go on record as probably the best gift my father had ever given me. It was more of an event than a concert. It quickly became historic and an event I will always remember.
As I got older and had experienced a couple of real relationships with the opposite sex, I moved to California. It was the early ‘70’s, and it was a different time and a different culture. I became captivated by the early California sound of Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills and Nash, the Eagles and of course Jackson Browne. Their music defined an era and my young adult life. Jackson’s songs brought awareness of social issues and motivated the huge demographic of baby boomers to take action. To this day I remain a huge fan of Jackson Browne’s and try to see him in concert at least twice a year. In some ways his lyrics became my religion.
Music makes us happy, provokes us to take action and comforts us when we’re down. It’s universal. I think back to the 1960’s and how the Beatles and their music had gone viral. That was way before we had the Internet and social media platforms and I wonder, how did that happen? I suppose the stars were aligned and it was simply “the right time” to create one of the biggest phenomenons in music of all times. Of course it had a little help pushed by the emerging demographic of baby boomers who were ready to take the world by storm.
I wonder what John Lennon would have gone on to do in his life, if he hadn’t have been stopped by a bullet some 40 years ago. His music will live on and I will keep going to Jackson Browne shows as long as he keeps giving them. Their music is the sound track of my life.
With all the hype happening this week around the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles coming to America, I couldn’t help but reflect how much this band influenced my own career as a photographer and filmmaker.
I was inspired me to “capture” history (and use my camera as a means to that end).To start with, the first pictures that I remember taking as a child were photos I snapped of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I vividly remember as I anxiously awaited the show to begin, that I needed to document it somehow. It was just too important not too. In fact it was so important that I have kept that snapshot in a small box of memorabilia for 50 years! I’ve spent a career documenting some of the most incredible places, people and events of my time.
They inspired me to be a storyteller. I used to orally tell stories to just about anyone who would listen to me when I was a very young child. But when the Beatles hit the scene, about the same time I started noticing the opposite sex, I turned my fantasies into my own written stories. I’m still writing stories and now translating them into ePubs, books and movies.
They expanded my universe. I began to “see” things differently because of the Beatles. I became aware of different cultures, countries, music and wit. It was like an awakening for me and I knew then that I wanted to explore as many cultures and experiences as I could. I’ve spent a lifetime exploring the unknown.
They taught me to always learn, grow and challenge myself. I grew up as a child and later a teenager, during one of the most pivotal and changing decades in America. As the Beatles moved beyond the “feel good” and innocent lyrics of songs like “She loves you…..yeah, yeah, yeah”, to the lyrical depths found on the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, I too was changing. It was like we were growing together. I remind myself daily to always be learning, exploring, growing and challenging myself and that has helped me stay fresh in my career.
I learned that “The Beatles” were more than the sum of 4 individuals. John, Paul, George and Ringo all brought their own unique talents and personalities to make up the most phenomenal band of all time. But they were also savvy enough to know they needed expert guidance and collaborated with great people like Brian Epstein and George Martin. It taught me the importance of collaboration and to surround myself with people who have talents that I don’t possess.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 50 years since I took these pictures off of our TV screen. I remember that night like it was yesterday, in vivid detail.
The Beatles had just come to America for the first time, and I was counting down the days until they were scheduled to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. I had been soaking up every bit of news about the Beatles all week. In those days that meant listening to the radio as DJ’s gave a blow-by-blow account of what those “crazy lads from Liverpool” were doing.
My family and I were living in Rochester, NY at the time. I was not quite a teenager, and it was the very first time I fell in love. First with Paul, because he was the cutest and non-threatening. Later with John, because he was a bit rebellious and he appealed to the adventurous part of me that was emerging.
The day the Beatles were to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show just dragged by. Dinner was particularly excruciating and each minute seemed like an hour. My sister and I had commandeered the TV set and no one was getting near it to change the channel. It was a black & white set – a color TV was prohibitively expensive in those days. I don’t remember who had the idea to take pictures that night but luckily we had some film in the Instamatic. I took just four shots that night. It was the end of the roll and each click was precious and I remember waiting for the right moments.
I can see by the date stamps on the prints (March 1964), that it took us a month to get the film developed. That was record speed for my family. We usually had a year’s worth of holiday pictures on one roll of film when we dropped it off at the drug store for processing. Luckily the film in the camera was at the end of the roll that evening – otherwise it may have taken months to see photos.
I pasted those photos into my scrapbook almost 50 years ago and they’ve been there ever since, along with my other Beatle memorabilia including my ticket for their performance at Shea Stadium in 1966. We had moved to the NYC area about a year after I shot these photos, and I actually got to see the Beatles perform twice at Shea – ’65 and ’66.
As I look back at that night on February 9, 1964, I can see where my passion for recording moments in history came from and I’ve been photographing them ever since.