The Beatles In Film – Behind the Scenes of Help!

As if the British Invasion wasn’t adventure enough, The Beatles would soon find themselves fighting an evil cult and saving Ringo Starr from ritual sacrifice with little more than their cheeky British humor.

Help! was the band’s second feature film with the soundtrack released as an album, also called Help! Production of the film began with a flight to the Bahamas on February 23, 1965, and its Royal World Premiere occurred at the London Pavilion Theater on July 29, 1965.

In the 2005 book Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation, author Philip Norman writes that The Beatles said the film was inspired by the Marx Brothers’ anarchic comedy film Duck Soup. The film also heavily satirized the James Bond 007 films, writes Kenneth Womack in Reading the Beatles. Coincidentally, the film’s distributor United Artists also held the rights to the Bond series.

Beatles Humor

The humor of the film was also often said to be influenced by the abstract humor of The Goon Show, a British radio comedy program. According to Janne Mäkeläm, author the book John Lennon Imagined, the radio program “contributed to a pool of shared experience and a form of identity” shared by its listeners. John Lennon was an ardent fan who often “bewildered his aunt with nonstop imitation and mimicry of various Goon accents.”

paul mccartney en route to st louis missouri august 21 1966

Paul McCartney intently listens to a friend during a flight en route to St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966.

Although critical opinion of the film was generally positive, the humor was not always appreciated. Mäkelä cites a 1966 review of the film titled “Beatles Goon It Up Again,” in which the critic wrote, “It is all rather obscure humor and if there are any funny lines then they are obliterated by some of the noises which make up the background.”

Regardless, the Fab Four were united in their humors and welcomed the presence of wild animals, music, and unusual conventions such as the film’s closing statement, a dedication to “Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine.”

Other critics argued that it tried and failed to exceed the expectations set with their 1964 comedy film A Hard Day’s Night. The boys from Liverpool, on the other hand, would later admit they were a bit bored with their lack of involvement in the production.

Help! I’ve Got the Giggles

To compensate, The Beatles shot the film in a “haze of marijuana.” In the television documentary series The Beatles Anthology, Ringo Starr said, “A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film … We had such hysterics that no one could do anything … It was just that we had a lot of fun in those days.”

In the Beatles Anthology Director’s Cut, Paul McCartney recalled shooting a scene where they group had to quickly turn to the camera and look surprised. He said, “We giggled a lot … It’s OK to get the giggles anywhere else but in films, because the technicians get pissed off with you. They think ‘They’re not very professional.’ Then you start thinking, ‘This isn’t very professional – but we’re having a great laugh.”

Although the film might not be everyone’s cup of tea, its score released as an album of the same name has proven its staying power. In 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine released its definitive list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. After compiling data from two extensive polls, Help! was voted into spot #331. A year later in 2013, the BBC reported that the album finally went platinum after the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK’s recorded music industry’s trade association, changed its sales award rules.

Bob Bonis Lens a Hand (Pun Intended)

Although Bob Bonis wasn’t around to help The Beatles fend off an evil cult, he did help them navigate foreign territory as their U.S. Tour Manager for all three U.S. tours between 1964 and 1966 (he also managed the Rolling Stones’ first five U.S. tours). While looking through the viewfinder of his Leica M3 camera, he was likely more tolerant of the giggles than the film crew was.

As he toured with the Fab Four at the height of Beatlemania, he also worked to capture their rise to fame on film, but one exposure at a time. These rare and previously unreleased photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive. Each strictly limited edition, fine art photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

The Beatles After the Breakup

The Beatles take a bow on stage at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, August 21, 1965.

For some Beatles fans the month surrounding New Year’s Eve on both sides can be bitter reminders of sour and sad times in The Beatles’ history.

On January 10, 1969, George Harrison walked away from rehearsal and the band amidst rising tensions. Less than a year later, on December 31, 1970, Paul McCartney officially filed the legal suit to dissolve the group (and publicly announced his departure from the band on April 10, 1970). Then, on December 29, 1974, John Lennon made the breakup official while the group was on holiday at Disney World.

john lennon on stage memorial coliseum portland

John Lennon on stage with The Beatles at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, August 22, 1965.

Perhaps it was an appropriate venue – an enchanted destination to conclude that mysterious and magical wave they had been sailing on across the world. The year’s end shouldn’t be mourned, and although the breakup came with an outpouring of grief (and the shattered hearts of teenage fans everywhere), it ushered in new beginnings and great successes for each member.

The Beatles had been on the trajectory heading toward the breakup since 1968, and it was beginning to show — they were moving away from those boyhood relationships and shedding the skin of the group in favor of their own and towards expressing their unique individual styles and preferences. The Lennon and McCartney songwriting duo split into their own respective paths. Harrison continued to develop as a songwriter. Ringo Starr, meanwhile, was also developing as a songwriter, as well as an actor and producer.

Rolling Stone Magazine described the 1968 album The Beatles (also known as the White Album) as “four solo albums in one roof.” And so, rather than lament or analyze the breakup of the Fab Four, the Bob Bonis Archive would like to celebrate the members’ continued success as individuals by touching on some of the accomplishments of each Beatle, after the breakup.

paul mccartney on stage crosley field cincinnati ohio

Paul McDartney on stage at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 21, 1966.

Paul McCartney

While he had already proven his worth as a songwriter with the Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney continued his upward trajectory to become recognized as one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. Throughout his career with the Beatles and his solo work, McCartney is credited with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million for both albums and singles. He is a two-time Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductee and a 21-time GRAMMY Award winner. In 1997, McCartney was knighted for his contributions to music. Sir Paul continues to perform actively to this day.

John Lennon

Unaware his time was limited, Lennon continued to be an agent of change and a voice of peace. Before the breakup, he met and fell in love with artist Yoko Ono (who, to this day, and despite heated emotions by fans over decades, is steadfast that she was never a catalyst to the breakup). In 1970 the pair released the album John Lennnon/Plastic Ono Band to the praise of critics. The couple also continued their activism, the most notable being the “bed-ins” opposing the Vietnam War. With the birth of his son Sean, Lennon began to focus his energy on his family, and only briefly made a return to music before being assassinated by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980 in New York City.

george harrison backstage st louis missouri

George Harrison backstage at Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966.

George Harrison

Although he didn’t receive as much recognition as a songwriter as did Lennon and McCartney while he was playing with the Beatles, his solo talent would begin to flourish as the end neared. After the band split, he released the triple album All Things Must Pass to much critical acclaim. Although he also worked as a music and film producer, his musical roots kept him on the stage. In 1988 he co-founded the platinum-selling super-group the Traveling Wilburys, and Rolling Stone ranked him number 21 on their list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He is also a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and collaborated with other great artists such as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and of course, Ringo Starr. Harrison passed away on November 29, 2001 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Ringo Starr

After the breakup Ringo Starr went on to pursue his own extensive solo career. In the years immediately following, he released three solo albums with great success. His 1973 album Ringo reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since earned a certified platinum status. His artistic side also led to his involvement in film, such as producing the glam-rock documentary Born to Boogie and acting in several films. He has continued to make music throughout the years, however, his most recent gift to the world came in the form of a photography book. Titled Photograph, it features 250 rare and unseen photographs of both his personal and Beatles life. Combined with original text written by him, Starr offers an intimate glimpse into his life and his fellow band members.

And in the end…

While Ringo first began exploring photography in 1963, during their American tours, Bob Bonis stepped in as the band’s primary photographer. While serving as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Beatles from 1964 to 1966 (and also for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond), Bonis practiced his artistic passion for photography while the band focused on their music.

Using his trusty Leica M3 camera, and through his unique level of access to The Beatles both on and off stage, Bonis captured honest and candid moments of the worldwide phenomenon that was The Beatles. Through The Bob Bonis Archive, these never before seen photographs are now available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

ringo starr john lennon paul mccartney kansas city

Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney perform at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964.

Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Part II

the beatles, john lennon, paul mccartney, george harrison, ringo starr in bel air california august 23-24 1964 photo by bob bonis

The British Invasion was in full swing, and as The Beatles’ popularity grew, they became a worldwide sensation with rock-n-roll fans and popular media alike.

The press had already dubbed the worldwide phenomenon “Beatlemania.” Then, following the release of their second studio album With the Beatles, the band’s press officer Tony Barrow referred to the band as the “fabulous foursome” in a news release, which the media adopted as “The Fab Four.”

But on the fringes of “The Fab Four” were the outliers. While not officially part of the band, many people played a major part in their careers or personal lives – managers, agents, media, other artists and more. These people are sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” (sometimes by themselves!). Exactly who had rightful claim to the assumed title, however, is still up for debate. So who might the Fifth Beatle actually be? In Part I of this 2-part blog, we identified several candidates. Here we present the next list of royal contenders. What do you think?

Derek Taylor

A British journalist, writer and publicist, Derek Taylor is recognized mostly for his work as press officer for The Beatles. In true spin fashion, he is credited with coining the phrase “The Beatles Are Coming.” He was working as a journalist when he was asked to write a review of The Beatles’ May 30, 1963 concert. According to BeatlesBible.com, Taylor was expected to write a criticism of what the national press called an “inconsequential teen fad.” Instead, he was captivated by the music and praised the performance. Shortly afterwards, he was invited into the Beatles’ circle as a trusted journalist.

Neil Aspinall

A school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Neil Aspinall is best known for his work as the head of The Beatles’ company Apple Corps. In the band’s early years, the group employed Aspinall as their road manager and personal assistant. Following the band’s return from their second trip to Hamburg in 1961, Aspinall left his job as an accountant to become The Beatles’ full time road manager. Following the break-up, he worked on expanding the band’s legacy with projects such as the Anthology records.

Mal Evans

In the early 1960s, Mal Evans was working as a telephone engineer and a part-time bouncer at the Cavern Club, a Liverpool music venue where the Beatles often performed. Beatles manager Brian Epstein eventually hired Evans as the group’s assistant road manager, working alongside Neil Aspinall. Evans contributed to several Beatles recordings and even appeared in some of the band’s films. After the band stopped touring in 1966, he continued to offer his assistance until their break-up in 1970.

George Martin

After recording the Beatles’ first studio album Please Please Me, English record producer Sir George Martin famously told the band, “Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just made your first number one [record],” according to the BBC. He is often referred to as the Fifth Beatle due to his extensive involvement with each of the Beatles’ studio albums. Martin is also lauded as one of the best record producers in history. He was behind 30 number-one hits in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.

Ed Rudy

Being the only American reporter allowed to accompany The Beatles on their first United States tour, Ed Rudy was able to spend exclusive time with the band. In an interview with Examiner, Rudy said that going on tour with them was “an unforgettable and life-changing experience.” He was embedded with the band as they navigated the raging “Beatlemania,” where he was “in the midst of a very friendly, though sometimes accidentally dangerous, raging mob of American teenagers.” While promoting the band in broadcasts around the world, the Beatles dubbed him the Fifth Beatle.

While the Fifth Beatle moniker seems to be applied somewhat liberally, there was another man behind the scenes ensuring the Beatles’ continued success. While serving as the band’s U.S. Tour Manager for all three American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as The Rolling Stones on their first five U.S. Tours), Bob Bonis took it upon himself to chronicle the Beatles and the historic moments he shared with them in this most important time in their careers: coming to America and heralding The British Invasion.

Captured using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis’ iconic photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Part I

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are photographed by Bob Bonis while on vacation in Bel Air, California on August 23-24, 1964

Paul McCartney and John Lennon were hailed as The Beatles’ songwriting duo. George Harrison was dubbed “the quiet one.” And Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, according to many.

Together they worked as a whole to conquer the world and not only herald, but win the British Invasion. But while The Beatles were bowing to the crowd on stage, there was other key figures working for their success behind the scenes. A number of these have been dubbed “The Fifth Beatle.” Exactly whom that true Fifth Beatle was, however, is still up for debate (and it’s often a hot one). Here are just a few of the most notable “Fifth Beatles.”  We invite your comments and opinions.

Stuart “Stu” Sutcliffe

Before their spectacular rise to fame, The Beatles legitimately consisted of five members. The Fifth Beatle in this instance was their original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. Before joining band he began his career as an artist and attended the Liverpool College of Art. He left the band in 1961 to pursue his art education and to continue painting. Early the next year he began complaining of headaches, and then tragically, on April 10, 1962, he died from a brain aneurysm.

Brian Epstein

Best known for his role as The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein is largely credited with discovering The Beatles. While Epstein’s management style drew some criticism and amidst the controversy of his personal life, he was instrumental in the band’s rise to fame. In 1997, Paul McCartney said, “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian Epstein.” Although he received McCartney’s “Fifth Beatle” endorsement years later, the jury has yet to reach a final decision. Quite a lot of controversy surrounds the motives and methods of Brian Epstein, but it is clear that without his influence in the early days we wouldn’t have gotten The Beatles as we know them.

Murray the K

Murray Kaufman, more commonly known as Murray the K, was an influential New York radio DJ during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He was embedded in the trenches of the Beatlemania and often referred to himself as the Fifth Beatle. His popularity peaked during the mid-60s when he befriended the band as they began performing in the U.S. While there isn’t a general consensus of how the name was attributed to him, his radio station quickly picked up on it and billed him prominently as the Fifth Beatle. In a late 70s interview, Kaufman admitted, “I really didn’t like it very much, but that was it.”

Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer and artist, is most well known for her close association with The Beatles, which lends itself to her candidacy of being the Fifth Beatle. When she first met the band in 1960, she was dating Klaus Voormann, a German artist who created the album artwork for Revolver. She quickly became smitten with original Beatles bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe. Her best known photographic works are of The Beatles in their early days playing in Hamburg, Germany.

Klaus Voormann

Another German artist and musician that joined the Beatles’ circle of friends was Klaus Voormann. Like his then-girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr, he met and became closely associated with the group in the early 1960s. During the band’s early days, Voormann lived in the Fab Four’s London flat. Shortly thereafter he designed the GRAMMY award winning cover artwork for the Beatles’ Revolver album. In the 1990s, he also designed the artwork for the Beatles Anthology albums. Much like Kirchherr, his close relationship with the band led some to speculate about his role as a Fifth Beatle.

This was Part 1 of Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

Enter Bob Bonis

While the Fifth Beatles seemingly came and went, Bob Bonis was playing his part as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles on all three U.S. tours between 1964 and 1966 (and for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips stateside as well). Undoubtedly, while the others squabbled over who was the true Fifth Beatle, Bonis was keeping his focus on the shutter of his Leica M3 camera.

With his camera always ready for action, he captured never before seen photos of the band in candid, intimate and historically important moments in the early days of The British Invasion.

These iconic photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Brian Epstein: Two Sides of a Valuable Coin

All four Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison board an airplane at the SeaTac airport in Washington, Augst 22, 2964

While The Beatles became accustomed to being embroiled in controversy, there was a key player behind the scenes of the band’s success and image that created a drama of its own.

Brian Epstein, born September 19, 1934, is best known for his role as The Beatles’ manager and is largely credited with their discovery, as well as a key player in their rise to fame.

His management of the band was undoubtedly important to their success, but his business dealings drew much criticism, and the man’s personal life was a whirlwind of gambling and drug abuse that would ultimately become the catalyst for his demise.

When Epstein first heard of The Beatles, he was working at his family’s record and musical instrument shop. Then, on the fateful day of November 9, 1961, he saw the group perform onstage at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

The group he saw on stage that night, though, was in direct need of an “Epsteinification.” They just didn’t know it yet. At the time, according to History.com, they would eat and drink onstage between songs, dress in all-black leather, and play only cover songs.

Epstein and The Beatles’ Rise to Fame

But nonetheless, The Beatles had made a powerful first impression. He said he was enthralled by “their music, their beat and their sense of humor onstage,” reports the New York Times. He quickly decided The Beatles would become the biggest band in the world. He said, “My own sense of inferiority and frustration evaporated with The Beatles because I knew I could help them.”

In early December of 1961, Epstein and the band began discussing the possibility and terms of his management role. By the end of January, he was officially their manager. Although he didn’t have experience managing an artistic group, he was very influential in determining the band’s signature appearance and their trademark end-of-show bow to the crowd.

The Beatles take a bow on stage at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota on August 21, 1965. Photo by Bob Bonis

During his time with the group, he managed the band’s business affairs, but he also helped to settle interpersonal conflicts. Epstein worked tirelessly for The Beatles, and as a result, its members trusted him with an ardent loyalty. Author Johnny Rogan writes in Starmakers and Svengalis: The History of British Pop Management, “Even on the brink of a nervous breakdown, his devotion to the Fab Four was all-consuming.”

Tragically, on August 27, 1967, at the age of 32, Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose after taking too many sleeping pills. Epstein had been with them for the entire trek up to the summit. But with his sudden death, anticipation of climbing down from the peak crept in suddenly, as did the truth behind some of Epstein’s business dealings.

Brian Epstein Remembered

In the biography Many Years From Now, Paul McCartney said that the band had always signed the contracts presented to them by Epstein without reading them. Following Epstein’s death, John Lennon bemoaned, “Well, he was alright. I’ve found out since, of course, that he wasn’t quite as honest to us as he made out.” However, in his biography For the Record, Lennon attested to the band’s loyalty to Epstein by saying, “We had complete faith in him when he was running us. To us, he was the expert.”

Despite the controversy, Epstein was without any doubt instrumental in The Beatles’ rise to fame. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, when asked about the time following Epstein’s death, Lennon said, “I knew that we were in trouble then. I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared. I thought, ‘We’ve had it.’”

Although The Beatles were beginning their descent from the top, the view was still clear and bright as each member carried on with their respective, similarly best-selling solo projects. But, also in the background of The Beatles’ success was their U.S. Tour Manager, Bob Bonis.

Bonis served as U.S. Tour Manager for all three of the band’s American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond). As he worked with the Fab Four, he also satisfied his passion for photography, capturing rare and never before seen moments in rock-n-roll history.

These iconic and intimate photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

We Don’t Miss John Lennon Only On The Anniversary Of His Assassination

 Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

John Lennon

October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980

On the anniversary of John Lennon’s killing, every fan page and newspaper, every music blog and every related website commemorated his life and his passing.  But we realized that this homage should not be limited to the actual anniversary date of this horrific act only, but that true Beatles fans, Lennon fans and most real human beings miss John – as they should – every day.  Thus, our take on this infamous event, a few days later.

As John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment at the Dakota on December 8, 1980, a killer lurked in the shadows, waiting for the right moment.

Lennon and Ono were returning from the recording studio where they were mixing Ono’s song “Walking on Thin Ice,” which featured Lennon on guitar. “John and I were gloriously happy in the first week of December. In our minds, we were a team – old soldiers,” Ono recalled to British newspaper The Daily Mirror.

Going Home

John Lennon back stage at The Club House, Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966. Photograph by Bob Bonis and reprinted by the Bob Bonis Archive.

As they passed the small autograph-seeking crowd gathered outside their building’s entrance, Mark David Chapman, who Lennon had signed an autograph for hours earlier, stepped out from the archway in which he was hiding and raised his revolver, aiming directly at Lennon’s back. Five shots cracked into the night. One of the .38 Special’s hollow point bullets missed, two hit Lennon in the left side of his back, and two penetrated his left shoulder.

Police arrived on the scene within minutes to find Lennon lying in the lobby bleeding profusely. Outside they found Chapman waiting calmly for his arrest, holding a copy of J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel A Catcher In The Rye. In the book he had written, “This Is My Statement.” He signed it Holden Caulfield, the story’s protagonist, which had become a cultural icon of rebellion and angst.

The Mirror reports that upon realizing the severity of Lennon’s wounds, officers placed him in the back seat of a squad car and rushed him to a hospital; they did not believe he would make it if they had to wait for an ambulance. But upon arrival, Lennon’s pulse and breathing had stopped. Attempts to resuscitate him proved futile, the damage sustained and the volume of blood lost was simply too great. Shortly after 11 p.m., Lennon was pronounced dead. And the world changed forever.

Worldwide Mourning

The death of Lennon, one of the most iconic and outspoken Beatles, rocked the earth to its core. Fans poured into the public to share their grief. The world had watched his mind blossom with each new Beatles hit. Following the breakup, they listened to him espouse love and world peace with his solo projects and public protests. His murder left an indelible scar on the realm of music, and the hope for a better world.

Chapman had been a devout Beatles fan, but Lennon’s increasingly controversial statements, such as how The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, would come into direct conflict with his religious beliefs and his perceptions of reality. In a 2001 article, author Lynne H. Schultz quotes Chapman as saying, “At that point, my mind was going through a total blackness of anger and rage.” As his disgust with society continued to fester, so did his obsession with killing Lennon.

Lennon’s remains were cremated, but no funeral was held. A week after his death, at the request of Yoko Ono, millions of people around the world took pause for ten minutes in silent reflection of Lennon. The New York Times reported that thirty thousand people gathered in Liverpool, but over 225,000 occupied New York’s Central Park to remember Lennon while every radio in the city went silent.

In the time before the trial, Chapman underwent extensive psychiatric evaluations and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Although he was encouraged to enter an insanity plea, Chapman opted for a guilty plea and was sentenced to 20 years to life with the possibility of parole. He has been denied parole eight times and remains incarcerated to this day.

Early Years

Bob Bonis had the pleasure to know John Lennon while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles (as well as for The Rolling Stones) during all three of their American tours between 1964 and 1966. With his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis captured never seen before moments of John Lennon and The Beatles as they grew under the watchful eye of the world. His photographs chronicle the years of the band’s rise to fame, and snapshots of the moments leading up to Lennon becoming the musician, activist, and icon the world fell in love with.

These iconic and intimate photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

John Lennon: although your life ended at the hands of insanity, and way too early, your message of peace and love still rings clear, and you live on in our hearts day after day. We miss you constantly. Your music and your messages changed the world forever; thank you for your unequalled contribution to peace.

Peeling a Glass Onion: 4 Facts About The White Album

The Beatles’ ninth studio album “The Beatles”, more commonly referred to as “The White Album,” was released on November 22, 1968, to an eager audience. The stark white album cover with the band’s name embossed in black was a conscious departure from the vibrant colors of the previously released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

The band’s songwriting was evolving along with the world, and the collection of 30 songs featured John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr branching into a variety of musical styles. The album, primarily written at a Transcendental Meditation course, was recorded at a tenuous time for the band as relationships became strained and band members quarreled over creative differences. The same tensions continued throughout the following year, leading to the eventual break-up of the Beatles in April 1970.

But despite the growing tension within the band, The Beatles reached number one on both United States and British pop charts and is hailed by some music critics as one of the best albums of all time. Test your Beatles fandom and see if you learn anything new! Here are a few facts you might not know about “The White Album”:

Martha, my dear dog

In 1997, McCartney revealed that the album’s ninth track “Martha My Dear” was actually written about his pet Old English sheepdog of the same name.  According to FeelNumb.com, McCartney said Lennon was amazed after seeing him act so lovingly toward his dear pet, adding he had never seen him act like that before. McCartney said, “It’s only when you’re cuddling around with a dog that you’re in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog.”

Eric “Candy Cavity” Clapton

The song “Savoy Truffle” was written with the sole purpose of poking fun at a fellow rocker. George Harrison was hanging out with Eric Clapton, who at the time, was suffering from numerous cavities and needed dental work. But despite having a perpetual toothache, Clapton was always eating chocolates. According to BeatlesInterviews.org, Harrison wrote the song after Clapton was told to quit eating sweets. Harrison said, “So as a tribute I wrote ‘You’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy truffle.’ The truffle was some kind of sweet … just candy, to tease Eric.”

Happiness was a warm puppy

“Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” read the headline in a gun magazine, a play on Peanuts’ cartoonist Charles Schulz’s 1962 bestselling book Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. Lennon said, “I thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means that you just shot something,” Rolling Stone Magazine reports. Recording the song required two nights and over 70 takes, but McCartney has called it one of his favorite tracks from that album.

Where was Ringo?

During the recording of The Beatles, Ringo Starr quit the group for two weeks, foreshadowing the fate of the band. Starr was feeling like an outsider more than ever, and he let his band mates know. In Anthology, Starr recalled, “I felt I wasn’t playing great, and I also felt that the other three were really happy and I was an outsider.”  UltimateClassicRock.com writes that Ringo escaped to an Italian island on a yacht he borrowed from a friend. The band would soon send him a telegram expressing their love and asked that he please come back. Upon returning, he was greeted by flowers on his drum kit arranged to spell “Welcome back, Ringo.”

Bob Bonis wasn’t working with The Beatles any longer when The White Album was being recorded. Rather, he had the privilege to serve as the band’s U.S. Tour Manager for all three American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as the Rolling Stones’ first five trips stateside). During his time with these bands and with his Leica M3 camera always at the ready, Bonis captured rare, candid, historically important and often iconic moments of the stars as they rose to fame.

These photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, fine art prints, from The Bob Bonis Archive at BobBonis.com. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. Click here to buy your very own piece of rock history (or give one as a gift for a Beatles fan you know).

All Of Our Guitars Gently Weep

I think people who truly can live a life in music are telling the world, ‘You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don’t need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it’s the very best, and it’s the part I give most willingly.

George Harrison

February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001

On November 29, 2001, 14 years ago today, beloved member of The Beatles – George Harrison succumbed to the effects of lung cancer and passed away at the age of 58.

He was often referred to as “the quiet Beatle,” and while Paul McCartney and John Lennon shared most of the spotlight, he was often regarded to be the group’s most mindful and spiritual member.

Harrison, the youngest of The Beatles, played lead guitar and wrote iconic songs such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Taxman” and “Something” (which has become the Beatles’ second-most-covered song).

He died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles with his wife Olivia and son Dhani by his side. In a statement, his family said, “He left the world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends.”

Harrison’s guitar style, a mix of the blues and early rock-n-roll, gave The Beatles’ music an unmistakable place in the world and in history. Those close to the group say that he greatly influenced McCartney and Lennon as they grew as writers, becoming more poetic, complex, and relevant to current events of the time.

Untitled picture2

Following the breakup of The Beatles, Harrison continued to make music as a solo artist and released several best-selling singles and albums. Later on, he co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Rolling Stone ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He is also a two-time Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductee, once as a member of The Beatles in 1988, and posthumously for his solo work in 2004.

While he continued to release music, NPR reports that Harrison “slowly withdrew from the spotlight over the ensuing years.” Those close to him said that rather than living a life of stardom, he became more interested in his private life and had a passion for cars and working in his garden.

In 1998 Harrison was successfully treated for throat cancer, which he attributed to his smoking habit. Only a few years later he would battle cancer again. Upon disclosure to the public, Harrison told his fans not to worry about him as he was not afraid of death and was at peace.

As reported by the New York Times, McCartney told reporters in London, “He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother.” Ringo Starr said, “We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter.”

Bob Bonis was fortunate enough to know Harrison and to watch him grow as a person while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles on all three of their U.S. tours (and also for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips to the states). While Bonis was on tour with The Beatles, his Leica M3 camera was always ready to shoot, capturing some of the most genuine, candid and personal moments of George Harrison and his fellow Beatles.

These photographs are now available from The Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is available as strictly limited edition fine art prints. Every print comes hand numbered, estate embossed, and includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. To buy one of these iconic and historically important photographs, and to memorialize a rock-n-roll superstar, visit the George Harrison gallery by clicking here.

George Harrison: despite being the quietest Beatle, the mark you made on this world and the music you left continue to resonate with history and will carry on well into the future. May you rest in peace knowing you left this world a better place.  Our guitars gently weep for you yet.

Lennon of Arabia

It’d been a hard day’s night, and John Lennon had been working like a dog.

During The Beatles’ second U.S. tour, many of their scheduled tour dates were double-headers. On August 22, 1965, at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, The Beatles were set to play two shows in front of a total 20,000 fans.

The concerts took place at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and tickets for both shows were priced at $4, $5 and $6, including a number of free pink tickets for the upper level. While flying to the show from Minneapolis, however, The Beatles received quite a fright as one of the airplane’s four engines caught fire.

According to BeatlesBible.com, Lennon was shaken, and amidst the chaos jotted down a few last messages which he sealed in a film canister for safe keeping. Thankfully, fate had better plans for The Beatles and the plane landed safely. In a moment of comic relief, or perhaps just relief, different sources report hearing either John Lennon or Ringo Starr shouting: “Beatles, women and children first!”

Perhaps in the lightness of being which follows living through a potential disaster, Lennon was captured in a pose reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia, a character from the 1962 epic historical drama of the same name, but this time waving the Union Jack. But while “Lennon of Arabia” played out his own epic drama in his imagination backstage, The Beatles were embroiled in the days of social injustice and the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, during an era of social unrest and political sorrow (Vietnam, the assassinations of president John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, to name a few), The Beatles brought a new light and energy to America, and changed the world of music, fashion, style, culture and politics forever.

In January 2013, the original contract for the Coliseum concert was released to the public. And, as a testament to the power of love, the contract specified (unusual for the time, but perhaps not for The Beatles): “Artists will not be required to perform before a segregated audience.” Shortly after the second show, the band flew to Los Angeles, but this time in a different plane.

Bob Bonis was fortunate enough to capture this candid moment while backstage, working as The Beatles’ U.S. Tour Manager. Bonis served as U.S. Tour Manager for all three of their U.S. tours (and also for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips stateside). His personal passion for photography is evident, and his close friendship with the bands was captured in intimate, iconic and behind-the-scenes moments such as “Lennon of Arabia.”

This photograph and other rare images of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones from their early and most important days heralding ‘The British Invasion’ are now available for the first time as strictly limited edition fine art prints from The Bob Bonis Archive at BobBonis.com. Each photograph is custom printed by one of the world’s leading fine-art photography printers, and is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE.

You know you want one. Click HERE to buy your limited edition numbered print now, before they’re sold out.

With a Little Help From Their Friends: Writing “I Wanna Be Your Man”

In their early years, The Rolling Stones got by with a little help from their friends – The Beatles. The Stones had been together for less than a year and a half and were just beginning to build their following. It was a point in time before Mick Jagger and Keith Richards discovered their potential as a songwriting duo.

In November, 1963, the Rolling Stones released their second single, “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which peaked at number 12 on the British pop charts. It was released only as a single and never appeared on a studio album. Although the song helped to solidify their presence in the world of rock-n-roll music, it was actually written by their fellow British Invaders, Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

The hit single would be the result of a chance encounter between Lennon, McCartney and Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ manager, producer and former Beatles publicist. In Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones, musician and author Bill Janovitz wrote, “Oldham had almost literally bumped into Lennon and McCartney as they stepped out of a cab. He invited them to the studio where the Stones were rehearsing and, right then and there, the two finished off what had been a McCartney sketch of an idea, handing it to the Stones for their single.”

John Lennon Paul McCartney Bob Bonis Archive

In 1968, Jagger commented on the song, saying, “We knew The Beatles by then and we were rehearsing and Oldham brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune, they were really hustlers then. I mean the way they used to hustle tunes was great: ‘Hey Mick, we’ve got this great song.’ So they played it and we thought it sounded pretty commercial, which is what we were looking for…”

Stones bassist Bill Wyman said the band adapted the song to their style and learned it rather quickly “because there wasn’t that much to learn.” Guitarist and Stones founder Brian Jones incorporated slide guitar into the song, and Wyman provided the driving rhythm and blues beat. Wyman said doing that made the song more “dirty” as they “completely turned the song around and made it much more tough, Stones and [blues] like.”

Years later, however, both bands looked back on the song on a different light. Perhaps as a testament to their growth as artists, both Lennon and Jagger recognized the song for what it was: a catchy pop song and not much more. Reflecting on the song, Jagger said, “I haven’t heard it for ages but it must be pretty freaky because nobody really produced it. It was completely crackers, but it was a hit and sounded great onstage.”

The Beatles released their version of the song three weeks after the Stones on their second UK album, With the Beatles. In the book All We Are Saying, Lennon brushed the song off by saying, “It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were for Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it: We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?”

By the time Bob Bonis became the band’s U.S. Tour Manager in 1964, though, Jagger and Richards had already moved on to writing their own songs. Before then, the Stones’ catalog consisted of mostly R&B covers. Jagger and Richards would later confess that watching Lennon and McCartney work that day gave them a greater understanding of how to write a song, a talent now proven many times over.

Bonis served as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Rolling Stones) on their first five trips to the U.S. from 1964 to 1966, as well as being U.S. Tour Manager for all 3 of The Beatles U.S. Tours throughout that period. During his time as Tour Manager, he captured intimate, unguarded and often iconic moments of both bands as they rose to stardom.

These photographs are now available for the first time as strictly limited editions fine art prints from The Bob Bonis Archive at BobBonis.com. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. Live.