Photography

Confirmed: '64 Beatles photo is from LA

Thumbnail image for beatles-color-beck-telegrap.jpgLast night I asked if a color candid photograph of the Beatles chatting with fans outdoors could have been from the private party held in August 1964 in the Beverly Hills backyard of Alan Livingston, then the president of Capitol Records. By this morning, LA Observed readers had provided the answer. Yes.

Glendale lawyer Jon Colman forwarded some black-and-white photos he kept of the event."I was there—as a 12 year old," he writes. "I’ve had these for years, framed in my office, but to see the event in color on television last night was quite amazing."

Even better, LA Times obituary editor Claire Noland confirmed that the Livingston family identified the photo at the time he died in 2009. Turns out Livingston had one of those interesting entertainment industry careers: he signed the Beatles and Frank Sinatra to Capitol, oversaw the TV pilot for "Bonanza" and created Bozo the Clown. From the Dennis McLellan obit in the Times:

"Alan had a great passion and love of music, and he was a great friend to the artist community," said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences....


Livingston first heard about the Beatles in 1963 when he read about the group in the English music press.

The Beatles' records were being released in the United Kingdom by EMI. And because EMI was Capitol's major stockholder, Capitol had the right of first refusal on the Beatles in America. But Capitol rejected the Beatles' early hit singles as unsuitable for the American market.

At a meeting with Capitol's producers, Livingston asked Dave Dexter, who screened all of the English records, what he thought of the Beatles.

"He said, 'Alan, forget it,' " Livingston recalled in a 2004 Billboard interview. " 'They're a bunch of long-haired kids. They're nothing.' I said, 'OK,' and I had no reason to be concerned, because nothing from England was selling here."

Livingston finally received a call from the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, from London wanting to know why there was no interest in the group. When Livingston said he hadn't even heard the Beatles sing, Epstein told him to listen to one of their records and call him back.

The color photograph of the Beverly Hills party during the Beatles first appearance in Los Angeles is part of a collection of slides of the band taken by Robert Beck, a Los Angeles inventor and physicist who died in 2002. His color photos from the Beatles 1964 tour of America are going on auction in March in the U.K.


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