David Bailey shoots Brian Epstein and the Beatles

Michael Gerber
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Devin just posted this wonderful photo of Brian Epstein on Facebook. When I asked him about it, he told me it was taken by David Bailey.

Brian Epstein by David Bailey 1965

Which led me, as the internet does, to this shot of BE from Bailey’s famous 1964 Box of Pinups:

Epstein Bailey Box of Pin Ups 1965

Also in Box of Pinups was this photo below, my all-time favorite John and Paul shot.

John and Paul Bailey Box of Pin Ups 1965

(John himself preferred another shot from the same session.)

John Studio Bailey picture 1967

I adore David Bailey photos of The Beatles—and lots of other things, too. You can find many photos from Box of Pinups in this photoset. Well worth looking through if you love Swinging London as much as I do.

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  1. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    I tried posting earlier but I think my post never went through…So what I wanted to say was:

    The Bailey photo shoot is so intriguing to me. The photographs that came out of that shoot are so different from any John/Paul photo I’ve seen before. Especially the one where John is resting his head on top of Paul’s head and draping his arms over Paul’s shoulders. Also that one of just their heads that was hanging in John’s studio. There is an intimacy in those photos that I rarely see in other various press photos of the two. I wonder if Bailey posed them that way or were they presenting themselves that way to Bailey?

    There is a rumor that Bailey only wanted John for the shoot but John refused to come unless Paul was there with him. I don’t know if this is true…

    But to get back to that one particular photo of John’s arms draped over Paul’s body, like I said, there a sense of intimacy that we don’t normally see and also a message. To me, it seems like John is telling the viewer that he has claimed Paul as his. And the look in Paul’s eyes confirms this. This is the photo I’m talking about: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lpe9itlsnt1qfac4io1_500.jpg

    And here’s another that gives the same feeling: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lkmw32xezM1qcmo9qo1_1280.jpg

    (I don’t know who’s tumblr this is but thank you for letting me use the photo as an example.)

  2. Those are great photos. I’d never even seen the second one.

    I like this insight, Anonymous. Never looked at the Bailey photo that way, but had always seen it as pure affection between the two, almost protectiveness on John’s part. There were many Beatle group photos taken during those middle years where one of them would have his hands on another’s shoulders, but it usually looked posed. This one looks completely natural.

    Bailey was the Swinging London photographer par excellence, but he’s said at various times that he thought the Beatles were overrated and a little weak, compared to those famous tough guys the Stones (whose court shutterbug he was). Worth noting that in Bailey’s two major career retrospectives–“Goodbye Baby and Amen” (1969) and “Birth of the Cool” (1999)–the Beatles play less of a role than you’d think, considering that they ruled the entire scene most of those shots came out of. But whatever. His shots are great nonetheless.

    As to Bailey not wanting Paul, he had him back for a second session in ’67. Contact sheet: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/05/05/article-0-12EB36A0000005DC-550_634x819.jpg

    Here’s another nice one of John and Paul sharing a moment, marred a bit by the shades-wearing dude smiling voyeuristically in the rear (taken February 1965 while shooting Help! in Austria):

  3. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Ah yes, that photo from Austria is another that was totally a surprise when I first saw it. A lot is said between them by the joy on their faces.

  4. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    That Austria shot is stunning. The Beatles were so rarely allowed to look sloppy and sexy and sweaty that that photo is all the more powerful. THAT is the Hamburg Beatles, don’t you think?

    And yes, sheer joy is what you see on both of their faces.

    — Drew

  5. Avatar CMO#9 wrote:

    I’ve always had an absolute love of the Bailey pic with John draping arms around Paul. Does anyone have any idea if there is a poster of this shot? I’ve looked and can’t seem to find anything. It would be perfect on my wall! Much appreciated.


  6. Avatar Sonia wrote:

    I agree that it’s a more intriguing photoshoot than we might think, and decidedly of an importance to John, since later he did these:
    (unfortunately I can’t find who took the photos)

    Clearly a shift of power here. It’s fascinating how John needed to manifest it so poignantly.

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