Fab Focus

A black and white look back at when the Beatles hit the Beach

The Beatles in 1964: young, wild, and not exactly free. (John had already been married to Cynthia for two years.) But gaze at the black-and-white photographs hanging in a makeshift gallery in the Radisson Deauville Resort's lobby and the world seems transformed to a more simple, magical place -- pre-CD, pre-MP3, when all a musical act needed was a successful 45 rpm record and an appearance on a TV variety show to launch a career that would rock the world and resonate to this day.

Seventy-one never-published images make up The Beatles! Backstage and Behind the Scenes, a traveling exhibition featuring the work of Life magazine photographer Bill Eppridge and the CBS Photo Archive. Lost for more than 30 years, these large-scale images (which are all for sale) derive from a cache of 30 million negatives recently unearthed and restored. Documenting a short time in the early Sixties when the Fab Four were traveling among New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami, the photos capture them at work and at play: the quartet rehearsing in summery terry-cloth cabana shirts, dark sunglasses, and mesh moccasins; John relaxing with his Beatle-booted feet propped up; Ringo raising a glass behind the drums in a mock toast or reading a newspaper, the headline of which screamed "How Castro Plotted Crisis -- Fishermen Sent to Trigger Incident"; Paul grabbing a quick snapshot with a camera; the group frolicking in the surf with curious onlookers and then looking sharp in narrowly cut suits and skinny ties for their hallowed appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Not to be ignored are the plethora of ardent fans and the brigade of hearty lensmen that followed the band around the world; they are featured in several shots as well: seated squealing women proudly displaying misspelled "I Love the Beetles" buttons on their conservatively dressed chests. A photographer wearing a bowl-cut Beatle wig and mugging for his colleagues.

With much fanfare, the show originally opened at South Beach's Art Deco Welcome Center, where a faulty air-conditioning system had the images sweating as much as an obese sun-worshiping man in a Speedo. Acting quickly, organizers transferred the exhibition to the nearest logical spot, the Deauville, where the Fab Four supposedly stayed in 1964 (on their first Florida visit) and once played on the Ed Sullivan Show (their second appearance). Although George Harrison and John Lennon are gone and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr live on, the transcendent quality of photography grants everyone eternal life.

 
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