Thursday, February 8, 2024

Do you wanna know a secret?

Harry Hammond/Getty 

        OK, so it's not really a secret, but it's something about which most people don't have a clue. You recognize the Fab Four above, and one of the reasons you do is because of the name below the frame.
        Harry Hammond was the first of the great Rock and Roll photographers and the image above was part of the creation of Beatlemania. It was 60 years ago this week George, Ringo, Paul and John appeared on the Ed Sullivan show which is considered the birth moment of a phenomena that rocked the world.
        This photo was the image tens of millions of people first saw of the Beatles.
        Harry Hammond took the photo as the Beatles were about launch. Hammond
was the early photographer for the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Eddie Cochran.
        It's hard to believe now, but for a while Hammond had the business to himself.
        London born Hammond dropped out of school at 14 and picked up a job shooting on Fleet Street. That was where printing and publishing began in Britain in the 16th century. By the 20th Century most of London's Newspaper and magazines were there. 
        Hammond showed an early talent and soon he was hired by an outfit that was known as "Society's Photographers," the wealthy and the aristocrats. In the 40's he decided there would be interest in showbiz and pop culture. By the 1950's he was known by most of the entertainment scene including musicians and had photographed Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland among others. 
        When he took the photo that was used in advance of the Ed Sullivan show he was a middle aged 45, but had a way getting the trust of rock and roll's pantheon.
        When Rock became big big business, thanks largely to the culture changing impact of the Beatles and the "English invasion," Hammond decided he didn't care for the growing number of other photographers doing what he had done almost exclusively, so he retired from shooting rock stars in the mid 60's and began managing bands.
        His work is highly valued and collected. Harry Hammond, who helped light the fuse for the Beatles explosion passed in 2009 at 88. As we think back about that first Beatles appearance and all that followed, you know that iconic image was the work of Harry Hammond.
        See you down the trail.



  1. I watched a Beatles documentary on Netflix. Eight Days A Week, directed by Ron Howard. Pretty good.

  2. And 5 years later they did the white album.

  3. No, I didn't now that. Thanks for the history, and for evoking memories of when we were all young.

  4. I remember the Ed Sullivan intro of the Beatles, watched it my senior year in Bend Oregon. Revolver was my favorite, heard it in Viet Nam, it seemed to fit right in with the events I was seeing.