Fifty years ago, a band of four young boys from Liverpool, England, landed on the U.S. soil with such powerful force that an overnight movement was unleashed that’s still influencing music, culture and society today. The debut of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 marked a milestone in American pop culture, triggering the “British Invasion” in music that changed the face of rock and roll forever. A famous story goes that onboard the airplane to New York on the eve of their U.S. debut, Paul McCartney questioned, “They’ve got their own groups. What are we going to give them that they don’t already have?”
Well, nothing in popular culture was ever the same again. Music, art, fashion, activism, politics, everything got embroiled in a revolution that resonated deeply with the collective consciousness of a country that was just recovering from the shock of the John F. Kennedy assassination and frustrated with the Vietnam War. The U.S. as the dominant force of culture and entertainment around the world provided The Beatles with the widest international launch pad for their revolutionary music. Their innovative, message-oriented music epitomized the collective voice of youth from around the globe on complex political and social issues, an area that popular music had never touched before. As Rolling Stone‘s Robert Greenfield states, “People are still looking at Picasso…at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary, more creative and more distinctive than The Beatles were.”
The Beatles are ingrained in our memories through their wonderful music and lyrics that broke all the rules and through their highly publicized larger-than-life personas. The ’60s were the time when television exploded as a popular medium and when broadcast machinery joined print media to connect people with celebrities. Many iconic photographs of The Beatles form the historic memorabilia of the band today. Abbey Road Cross Walk, Performance at The Ed Sullivan Show, the John Lennon series with Yoko Ono are some that instantly come to mind. These photographs provide us a glimpse of the enormous fame that enveloped the “Beatlemania” phenomenon in the ’60s. Today, in our culture obsessed with nonstop celebrity image streams across social media, it’s hard to imagine an intimate world of celebrities that isn’t wide open for the world to probe. But despite being the most popular band, The Beatles imagery shown to the world was highly choreographed, seldom allowing audiences a tête-à-tête with the band’s intimate world.
The tour manager for The Beatles on three of their world-changing tours to the U.S. was a man named Bob Bonis, who was also, incidentally, an amateur photographer who traveled with his Leica M3 camera close to him. And that’s just part of it. Bob Bonis was also the U.S. tour manager for The Rolling Stones during this same period. With a brilliant eye for composition and timing, Bonis shot hundreds of photographs of The Beatles at their most relaxed and fun, and almost 2,700 photographs of The Rolling Stones during this same period. Although he had captured some extremely iconic shots of the bands, he simply stashed the negatives in his home and never made them public. Sixteen years following his death, Bonis’ son, Alex, took the images to rock-and-roll memorabilia specialist Larry Marion, the cofounder and director of the Not Fade Away Gallery in New York.
Not Fade Away and Duggal have been working together since 2009 when Larry Marion launched the Bob Bonis collection for the first time with “The British Are Coming!”, an exhibition that featured 75 select images from the archive of 3,500 images. Duggal carefully printed directly from the negatives onto silver-gelatin prints. The response to this first unveiling of Bob Bonis’ photographs was overwhelming. Marion states, “I am thrilled at the response and reception we have been getting from the music, art, photography, film and publishing communities. The rarity and importance of these incredible images has fueled an intense and positive reaction from so many people around the world. We’re proud we’re able to honor the legacy and work of Bob Bonis, and to bring these never-before-seen images to the world.
The ’60s were the time when television exploded as a popular medium and when broadcast machinery joined print media to connect people with celebrities. Many iconic photographs of The Beatles form the historic memorabilia of the band today.
The photography collection has received worldwide acclaim, and the gallery was besieged with interest and offers to publish the photographs in book form from virtually every major and fine-art publisher in the world. The gallery settled on HarperCollins and through their It Books imprint published two books, The Lost Rolling Stones Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive 1964-1966, which was published in December of 2011, and The Lost Beatles Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive 1964-1966, which was published in March of 2012.
Duggal was instrumental in streamlining that process for them—the first task was drum-scanning the fragile negatives at a resolution that would allow the images to be printed at large sizes. Not Fade Away Gallery selected around 600 images from the archive of approximately 3,500 images to drum-scan and restore, as necessary. The launching of the archive has been so successful that Not Fade Away Gallery has placed them on Amazon to be sold as collector’s print editions. Their Amazon store is linked to a print-on-demand system—when an order gets placed on Amazon, it’s forwarded directly to our print department, which then reproduces an archival digital print, and packages and ships it to the final buyer. It’s incredible that after five decades, the world is still enamored with The Beatles. Such is the power of their phenomenal music and personal lives that the world fell in love with.
Duggal has had a long-standing tradition of maintaining archives of images and servicing the collection all the way from order to production to shipping, with clients including Corbis, Getty and The New York Times Photo Archives. It’s a joy for us to be able to work on such collections, as they keep us firmly rooted in the historic tradition of photography and link it to the digital world while still keeping archival properties intact. Larry Marion’s acknowledgement of our services—”I’ve been using Duggal for over five years, for all my printing needs, and they’ve never delivered less than perfection and never missed a deadline!”—is, of course, the joy that keeps me going and inspiring the growing family of Duggal toward perfection.