Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The BBC Volume 2 photo

Guildford Street, walking towards Russell Square

Whether the photo we revealed yesterday really is the cover chosen for the new November Beatles album, "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2" or not, let's examine the colourised photo and see if they got it right. The colourised version already showed up on YouTube, along with footage of four people recreating the scene. Above is the original black and white version of the cover, as shot by the late Dezo Hoffmann. Hoffmann took quite a few early Beatles photos, and he was also part of the Beatles entourage when they first came to the USA in February 1964. The photographer also filmed the Beatles on 8mm colour films, and in the early eighties he appeared on TV to show some of the footage from those films.
In 1963 and 1964, Hoffmann's Beatles photos were printed in magazines all over the world. As far as I know, Hoffman only published one retrospective photo book of his Beatles photos, and that was "With The Beatles - The historic photopraphs of Dezo Hoffmann" in 1982. As he mainly shot his photos in black and white, even if some of his photos were colourised back in the sixties, the book is also in black and white. Out of print, the book is well worth seeking out, and long overdue for a reprint.

The possible debut of the photo was in this magazine, from 1963

In 1967, a film school student made a small documentary about Hoffmann, you can find it on YouTube.
The photo we are examining was part of a series of photos in the first "Meet The Beatles" magazine in 1963 and the series was headlined "A Day In The Life Of The Beatles". The photo is captioned "A somewhat delayed Beatles day can begin. The boys takes a brisk walk down towards the centre of London. In ten minutes, they're due for a call at their tailor." (Translated by me from Norwegian, as I only have a Norwegian copy of this magazine.)
The photo session was shot on July 2, 1963 and the photos were taken at these locations: 1) Room 114, Hotel President; 2) Reception area, Hotel President; 3) Guildford Street, walking towards Russell Square; 4) Russell Square Gardens; 5) Rupert Street (buying bananas at a stall on the corner at 5-7 Brewer Street); 6) Dougie A. Millings and Son, tailors; 7) Delicatessen Shop; 8) Shirtmaker Mr A Maknyick's shop; 9) Rupert Court; 10) Buying ice cream at Kontact cafe; 11) 27 Wardour Street, in front of the Garner's restaurant; 12) Dezo Hoffmann's studio (to take portraits of John and George).Some of the photos were shot in colour, and we'll take a look at this one, from Russell Square Gardens. You may recognize it from old chewing gum collector's cards or as the front cover of the Italian LP "I Favolosi Beatles" (the equivalent of "With The Beatles"):

Photo: © 2013 Apple Corps Ltd.
Here it is presented in it's real colours, the Italian LP featured a recolourised black and white representation of the photo. The "BBC Volume 2" photo was taken in Guildford Street, where their hotel, The President was. As the list of locations showed, the next destination was Russell Square Gardens. Comparing it with the Guildford Street photo shows that the colour research has been spot on - and that George removed his coat in Russell Square.

Photo: © 2013 Apple Corps Ltd.
If you compare it to the black and white photo, some pedestrians in the background are nowhere to be found in the colour version. Also, "Nowhere-man-in-e" from the Steve Hoffman Music forum wrote to us and told us that he had observed that George's tie is longer in the new photo. Guess they wanted the tie to match Ringo's and John's. "I don't like your tie, for a start" comes to mind! Incidentally, the original black and white photo is available as a poster from Amazon.



Ivan Moldes said...

Hi Roger. My name's Ivan Moldes. I'm one of the four people recreating the scene (The rest are: Juan Manuel Escrihuela, Josep Molist, Jordi Zaragoza). We are a group of friends and writers who are currently working on a new book about The Beatles. All of us have published a book about the Fab and have done translations from English into Spanish as "John", the biography written by Cynthia Lennon. It is an honor to be mentioned in your blog as it's one of the best Beatles' blogs worldwide. By the way, nice to meet you!

Talanca said...

Dezo Hoffmann published at least 2 more books about the Beatles.

One is "The Beatles Conquer America", published in 1984: http://beatlesblogger.com/2010/04/19/dezo-hoffmann-the-beatles-conquer-america/

The other book is called simply "John Lennon" and it's from 1985 (3 years later later re-published as "The Faces of John Lennon"): http://www.amazon.com/John-Lennon-Dezo-Hoffman/dp/0862871972

Cheers, M.

Roger Stormo said...

Hello to you both, great to hear from you Ivan! Talanca, sorry I forgot about those, I remember the Lennon book now. Here are the links you mentioned: Conquer America and The Faces of John Lennon

Roger Stormo said...

Having looked closer at the photo, I think they could have done a much better job with the boys' hair. In the colourised version, they all have the same tone, whereas in real life (and as the Russell Square Garden photo clearly shows), Paul's hair was the darkest, nearly black, whereas John's hair was the fairest. I hope they are able to correct this before the big announcement, now expected very soon...