Beatles From Above

Where and when?Jake and I became friends by dint of our mutual affinity for the Beatles. We’ve even attended a couple Beatlefests (now called The Fest for Beatles Fans—a TERRIBLE name) and had our picture taken with a cardboard stand-up of the Fabs. Needless to say, we’ve seen a LOT of pictures of the Beatles over the years. From the countless coffee table books to the occasional unearthing of new images on the Web, we’ve seen thousands.

But this is the coolest yet (click for higher-resolution):

Unidentified and undated overhead shot of the Beatles

Unfortunately, we can’t find any info on when or where this shot was taken but it’s sparked a conversation via Instant Messenger. Peek in on our talk and post your own theories on the origins of this photo or links to your own favorites after the jump…

Our discussion of this photo:

[13:02] phil:

[13:02] phil: look at his first image

[13:03] jake: what is that? beatles 1965?

[13:03] phil: I’m guessing somewhere around then

[13:03] phil: no story with the image

[13:03] phil: but it’s awesome

[13:04] jake: wow. how’d you find it?

[13:04] phil: posted to a bulletin board

[13:04] jake: cool.

[13:04] jake: probably 64 by the suits, right?

[13:04] phil: if we could see whether there were ties we’d know better

[13:05] jake: must be from taken from the lighting, huh

[13:05] phil: note the piano and the acoustic guitar

[13:05] jake: yeah, and gretsch laying on the floor

[13:05] phil: yeah, one gretsch, one rick

[13:05] phil: sweet

[13:05] jake: and the hofner

[13:05] jake: bass

[13:05] jake: ha

[13:06] jake: get stands for those guys

[13:06] jake: they’re the beatles!

[13:06] phil: seriously!

[13:06] jake: what a mess of wires, too

[13:06] phil: but with the piano and the acoustic, I’m wondering if it’s ’65

[13:06] jake: good call

[13:06] phil: could be anywhere though

[13:07] jake: probably help era

[13:07] phil: right

[13:07] jake: sp cpp;

[13:07] phil: wha?

[13:07] jake: that was: so cool

[13:07] jake: no shadows

[13:07] jake: must be outside?

[13:07] jake: during the day?

[13:08] phil: wood plank floor

[13:08] phil: maybe an amphitheater?

[13:09] jake: huh

[13:09] jake: no info

[13:09] jake: ?

[13:09] phil: not that I can find

[13:09] phil: nothing with the image

[13:10] jake: can’t even think of how to google it

[13:10] jake: beatles rafters?

[13:10] jake: ceiling?

[13:11] phil: bird’s eye photo?

[13:11] phil: overhead pic

[13:11] jake: ringo’s not on a riser at all. weird

[13:11] phil: oh, no

[13:11] phil: huh

[13:13] jake: i’ve seen a lot of beatles pics

[13:13] jake: and this is one of the coolest

[13:13] phil: Oh yeah

[13:13] phil: that’s why i sent it

[13:13] phil: such a cool perspective

[13:13] phil: historical, even

[13:14] phil: as it shows the set up

[13:14] phil: an angle surely never seen before

[13:14] jake: right

[13:14] phil: just so interesting

[13:15] phil: I’m posting it

[13:16] jake: not as cool but still:

[13:17] phil: Oh, that is a pretty cool angle!

Update: Thanks to Greg at the Beatle Photo Blog, GLONO reader BK, and YouTube user luma78, we have confirmed that this photo is from Paris on June 20, 1965.

Video Playlist: The Beatles – Paris, 1965

55 thoughts on “Beatles From Above”

  1. Wasn’t there an unused piano on stage of the TV show set in Hard Day’s Night? If I had to give one guess, that’d be it.

  2. I believe the pic is a fake.

    There are many things about it that do not make sense, I will later this evening post my findings. I just walked in the door, so after dinner I will be back.

  3. Overhead shots always have strange angles and shadows. That’s why satellite photo technicians are a specialized breed.

    Also, we have no idea what or where the light source for this image is. Footlights can throw weird shadows, mix in overhead or side lighting and who knows what you get.

    As for the angles, I don’t see any irregularities. Sorry, Russ but I just don’t.

  4. I agree with Lep. Ringo angled his ride like that and it looks like John’s angeling up his AC30 Vox amp. Potential clue: I looks like George is working with a larger cab that may have been a Super Beetle model released after the initial Beatlemania year of ’64. That would make the pic around ’65. If you look closely, it has a metal frame around the cabinet, which held the wheels on allowing the cab to be rolled around. John, on the other hand, looks to be using an AC-50.

  5. I noticed that too. Recording studio? Vocal mics are in another area where the vocal booths are, perhaps. Equipment cords leading off photo. That piano has got to be owned by EMI. The label had lots of big rooms in their studios for orchestra recordings, and judging by the wear on that floorboard, that room was well traveled and nicked up.

  6. I can’t even look at that image very long with that orientation – I start to get this weird sensation of vertigo. If I rotate it though, it seems much more natural. I think it’s presented upside-down.

    What’s with the line of shadows down the center? At first I thought it was just in the floor, but now I don’t know. Could just be some bad level adjustment in PS or something.

  7. I think the vocal mics are forward and out of the shot. Think about their concert footage, they often step back from the mics during a solo or at the end of a song. This may have been to avoid feedback on those shitty early PA systems.

    Joshua, the shadows appear to me to be a defect of the film or the print. Looks like maybe a roll of film was left sitting for a while and the holes on the sides of the roll maybe left a weird imprint? I don’t know.

  8. Not likely studio – there’d be baffles…vocal mics are probably just a few steps in front.

    pic appears to be a scan from a book – there appear to be spots of binding shadows in line down the middle (right of drums over the rick) but oddly not any indication of it looking pieced together or combined in the gaps with no shaddow…

  9. John certainly played an electric piano during “I’m Down” in ’65 or ’66. I don’t recall ever seeing them play an acoustic piano on tour, but maybe it was from an earlier warm-up act and it’s just wheeled out of the way?

  10. If this is from a concert then it is not the ’65 tour, because the suits are not right. And I don’t think it would be the ’66 tour – because I don’t think George and John were using different guitars then. So, that would leave ’64. And it would be fall of ’64 because the spring tour they were wearing those grey suits.

  11. I think this is taken in Paris on their Second Trip through there. If you watch Anthology (4 or 5) there is concert footage where Paul is speaking French (trying)…they sing She’s A Woman (or was it Baby In Black?)….and George sings Everyones trying to be my baby.

    Anyway….the stage is natural colored wood as in this photo. The songs would also match the look at the time of this photo. I’ll watch again tonight but Im almost sure that the place.

  12. The Reverend is Wright about one thing – they still clap that way over here. ONE-two-three-four…

  13. So, Jake – how’d you come across the Paris performance video? Anonymous tip? Envelope under the door? You have no life and spent the last week watching every Beatles clip on YouTube?

    Awesome find, anyway. I just want to know who the hell was up in the rafters with a camera.

  14. So, now that we know where and when… the fact that the overhead photo shows Paul satnding in the middle, what song would that be?

  15. Incredible shot with amazing clarity; it’s amazing that this is the only one of it’s kind that’s surfaced in over 40 years. And who would have gotten that shot? Dave? Yeah, that’s definitely Dave. Great work.

  16. To answer my own question – after watching the video clips (thanks luma78), I’m guessing it was taken during “I’m A Loser”. Paul is in the middle, so he could share John’s mic, and if you look closely, it looks like – maybe – you can make out the harmonica rack around John’s neck.

  17. Nice work, Jim!

    The only remaining mystery, ha ha, is whether and photo and/or video footage is from the afternoon or evening show…

  18. I’m a bit late here but I can say for sure that this photo is not from 1965, but most probably frpm early 1964, I would say january.

    I happen to own a copy of the french mag Spécial Jeunesse where this photo (Which I still own, even if it’s in four parts!) was the centerfold. This was a special Beatles issue marked 10/64 , most probably october 64, in connection with the Paris premiere of A hard day’s night.

    It might have been taken at L’Olympia in Paris, they played there for 19 (!) days january february

  19. Why do I have to explain anything, Jake?

    I lived in Paris these years, bought the Spécial Jeunesse issue in the autumn of 1964 and aamof was there on the june 20 1965 concert. That’s the facts from my viewpoint. Define exactly, plse! I’m not a Beatles expert but would it be impossible to imagine that they had different stage setups which were then communicayed to the roadies or whatever and that this was “the concert piano setup”, used many times. Or are you talking exactly as in inches? In that case there really are some differences between the Jeunesse photo and the blurred videoclip

    btw here’s another shot from above shot, also from 1964, but taken in Stockholm:


  20. Hey jan,

    I don’t think Jake’s looking to pick a fight, it’s just that this conversation is is so interesting and it’s been fun to try and track down the date of this image.

    Any chance you could scan in your image for comparison? Especially if it’s dated or watermarked.

  21. Derek, Jake,

    Dereks suggestion made me look at the original again and I stand CORRECTED. Sorry Jake.

    This is what I found:

    -Long time ago I scanned my photo and I retouched/edited out the text and headlines to make it neater. So my photo looked very much like the one above. But Jake, one can see the song mikes, as the photo above seems somewhat cropped.

    -Now looking at the original, which is in a rather bad shape, I can see I was all WRONG. Reading ALL text in the photo and especially what’s on the backside I now know that this photo was in fact NOT from Spéciale Jeunesse october 1964 but from an issue of the Paris Match weekly, probably last week of june 1965.

    -On the backside there is part of an article about the june 20 concert and a part of a big photo of the june 19 flight accident at the Le Bourget Aviation exposition.

    -The part about the concert says that there were 12000 in the audience and that people had payed “up to 50 F on the black market”.

    -The photos (four smaller ones of the audience) seems to be taken by one Roger Coral. Maybe Coral took the stage photo as well, I have looked (again) but can’t find his name on the big stage phot. Anyhow Coral worked at paris Match from 1959.

    I’d be happy to post my original scan here. How do I do that?


  22. Right Jake,

    I have now written a mail to Paris Match in my best French to see if they can pinpoint the matter.

    I’ll keep you posted

  23. This, see below, is the answer I got from Paris Match. So indeed now we know who took the shot, Michel Le Tac.

    Unfortunatly no hits when searching le tac and the Beatles together.


    Pour la grande photo le photographe Michel LE TAC


    Roseline Bry

  24. I’d love to see the original photo. I just discovered that my university library has copies of Paris Match dating back to 1949. I don’t speak French, but my roommate does. I’ll report back if we can track down anything useful from the magazine itself.

  25. Alright, I’ve tracked down the photo as originally printed. Jan, you were a week off — it’s actually in the first issue in July, No. 847.

    I got several scans at 400dpi (the highest the scanner could do), so the two pages side by side are about 8000×5000. I also scanned the full article, in case anyone [who reads French] is interested. I’ve put it all online, 107MB ZIP archive.

    Of course, this still has the problem of being a) a scan of a printed copy rather than of the original, and b) a scan of a printed copy with a lot of distracting text superimposed. I’d still really like to find a source for a print of the original photo, so I’ll keep looking.

    (If someone sees this and can help, my email address is on my site, just click on my name below.)

  26. Great job Dan, If I find any clues about any original I’ll let you know. If people are interested I can translate the article to English..

  27. Awesome shot…..i scrolled down to write right away just noticing the trove of detail in the photo. Some of which im sure is probably already mentioned…if so, my apologies. This photo, is clearly spliced when one looks at the Rick 12 string in the center. Its weird too as the photo almost otherwise appears seamless…perhaps it showed up in a magazine?

    This phot is definitely(duh) Fall of 1964 as George is playing his double cutaway Gretsch and yet has available both the legendary Sunburst Rickenbacker 12 and the single cutaway Gretsch from the Beatles for Sale sessions.

    Interesting in that Typical guitar stands used in 1964 for the Beatles are nowhere to be found short of Johns Gibson Acoustic. Highly unusual, though John was notorious for lazily propping his neck-wise against an amplifier a lot. A Piano?

    If they werent standing in concert fashion and wearing suits almost appears studio like but there are no baffles. Clearly electricity is being used…..anyways….absolutely interesting photo, a moment in time.

  28. Honestly don’t see how there was so much debate about this. The pic was clearly from the ’65 Paris concert. In far shots in the film footage, you see the piano in the back. George breaks a string (or something goes wrong) on his Tenneseean, and swaps out for his Country Gent at the beginning of She’s a Woman. John used his Gibson for I Feel Fine, and as back-up guitar in ’65 as opposed to his first Rick. It’s also clear he’s wearing his Vox python guitar strap which I think, and I’m not sure, that he got in late ’64. So uh, yeah…

  29. Hey Nic nac…..i kinda went there on my post as well…but then again suits were rare in the studio. Ive since seen concert footage where a piano was in the background….not for THEM perhaps another group. Anyway Jake and especially Tim seem to think they are the authorities on all things Beatle(read that:dicks) so no point in discussing it further according to them.
    In any case i know more than Tim.
    Case closed.


  30. Okay, very late to the party here. But did anyone find the original source of this image? I think I’ve looking for it since it was first posted here.

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