Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yesterday: The Beatles Once Upon a Time

by Astrid Kirchherr & Max Scheler

Yesterday: The Beatles Once Upon A Time documents the Beatles and the city of their birth during the making of their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, in 1964. It captures the rhythm and texture of the tough English port city where the smell of cigarettes and seawater mingled and the strains of pop music were transformed by an early 1960s music scene that gave birth to the Mersey Beat and the greatest band of all time.

Before they achieved world fame, the Beatles perfected their craft in another port of call, the northern German city of Hamburg. There they met Astrid Kirchherr, a budding photographer who became close friends with the band and later was engaged to the Beatles’ original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe. Some four years later—by which time the Beatles had conquered the world—Kirchherr with Max Scheler visited the band and took the photographs that appear in this book. Kirchherr and Scheler focused on the Beatles in private and public moments, during the filming, and also on the city itself, on the streets, the music scene, the people, evoking for us today the gritty humor and passion of 1960s Liverpudlians.

This book offers a moving testament to the inspirational effect of the Beatles’ success on their hometown as well as an important chapter of the Beatles’ almost-mythic story.

"The first time I met the Beatles was through my former boyfriend... who saw them one night when he was wandering around Hamburg, and then he heard this beautiful sound of rock and roll music and he went down into a quite dark, filthy cellar where these boys were standing on a very, very tiny stage and [performing] in such a way that he was absolutely--let's call it knocked out--by their music, and by their looks, and everything around it. So he told me about it.... I just said, alright, I'll come with you. So we went there, and when I went down the stairs and looked at the stage, I was just amazed at how beautiful these boys looked. It was a photographer's dream.... Then, when I heard the music, it was even more fantastic for me.... After that first night, I went nearly every night to see them and that's how it started.... I asked them if they were willing that I take their pictures, and they [jumped] up and down with joy."

Astrid Kirchherr is a German photographer and artist. She has exhibited her work in Hamburg, London, New York, Tokyo, and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. She was a close friend of the Beatles in the years preceding their international fame.

Max Scheler was a photojournalist for Stern magazine in Hamburg and an associate of the photographer Herbert List.

1 comment:

TarBabyJim said...

Thanks for the book review. I will be buying this, for sure! I am a long time fan.
I love Melanie too.
LetHerIn dot org (my personal fan site)