Thursday, March 25, 2010
Fiona Adams, Beatles photographer
‘I think I’ve done much better shoots than that, but it worked for that cover and the jumping image worked very well with the record’s title,’ she said.
On her return from Australia in April 1963, she went to an employment exchange in Soho in search of work. She was directed to Picture Story Publications in Regent Street on a week’s contract, but she ended up staying, doing studio and location shoots.
"I would ride around on the top deck of a London bus looking for shooting locations."
In the same month, The Beatles arrived at the studio and Ms Adams took them in a taxi to a former bomb site at the rear of Euston Station.
"This emerged from one of my first assignments for Boyfriend Magazine. I had met the Beatles (then little-known) the previous week (Sunday April 14th 1963) when they were appearing on the popular 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' Show, hosted that day by Jimmy Saville, at the TV Studios in Teddington. These were very early days and the Beatles readily agreed when I asked them to come in for a shoot."
"Come in they did to our cramped little studio at No.21, Kingly Street, W.1. The day was April 18th., 1963. I had been keen at that time to break away from the conventional Hollywood-style of stage and studio shot. To this end, I would ride around on the top deck of London buses to search out possible locations. An abandoned area had caught my eye at the crossroads of Euston and Gower Street. This was still a London blitzed in parts and awaiting rebuilding."
"As far as I remember, we all managed to pile into one taxi; the four Beatles, myself and Maureen O'Grady of Boyfriend, - plus the camera gear! I climbed down the rubble into a bombed-out cellar, open to the sky, and had a wonderful session with the Beatles lined up on the wall above who couldn't have been more co-operative."
"Taken on this single roll of film was the Jumping Shot, the shot which John Lennon and Tony Barrow chose for the cover of the Beatles EP album 'Twist and Shout'."
here with a blow up of the jumping shot with my original cropping marks for printing."
"Their career hadn’t completely taken off yet, but it did after that," she said. "I remember someone coming out of the building while we were doing it and asking who they were."
She did not know that Dezo Hoffman had photographed the band jumping in Manchester a week before, though his images were not published until later.
In 2004, Ms Adams took the images and contact strips from that shoot to Christie’s auctioneers for valuation. They put her in contact with Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn, who did a day-by- day account of the band over a three-year period, including April 1963.
He said her story helped to confirm what happened on that day.
In April 2006, the Times Saturday supplement revealed the photographer of the "Twist and Shout" photo had been found. Meanwhile, Ms Adams had done a deal with Redferns Music Picture Library to market her pictures.
Through Redferns, Ms Adams’ images were displayed in the 2006 "The Beatles on the Balcony" exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, ironically next to Dezo Hoffman’s.
"It’s lovely and I’m very happy about it," she said. "When Redferns contacted me I thought, Wow! It is a proud moment for me to have my photographs in the National Portrait Gallery."
Ms Adams photographed many of the pop elite of the 1960s, including Dusty Springfield, Adam Faith, Billy J. Kramer and Jimi Hendrix. She worked with The Beatles on numerous occasions.
"They were great fun and we always had a laugh," she said.
"I went on tour with them in 1966 and I remember being on a train with them from Munich to Hamburg which took a day but, with Beatlemania, things were getting difficult by then."
In 2009, six of her photographs were displayed in the "From Beatles to Bowie" exhibition, again at the National Portrait Gallery in London. If you missed it, you can still buy the book.