By MELISSA MANSFIELD, Associated Press Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. - Harry Benson was in the room when the Beatles found out they would be playing on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
He was with them when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" landed in the Top 10.
He photographed the Fab Four joking around, composing classics and flying to America.
Along with 80 of the photojournalist's works of the dynamic group, the Albany Institute of History and Art has also collected memorabilia from local fans for its exhibit, "The Beatles: Now and Then."
Among the 100 objects on display: a 1964 "Flip Your Wig" game; inflatable dolls that were part of a soap display in 1966; a pin that reads: "I am a Beatles fan. In case of emergency call Paul or Ringo."
Through his photos, Benson captured personal and intimate details of the Beatles during their first American tour, offering an insight into the world of the young rockers and those around them.
Benson was working at a newspaper in Scotland in 1964 when his editor sent him to Paris to cover the Beatles. He followed them around, taking pictures as they "played tourist" — Paul McCartney (news) and George Harrison looking at postcards of the Eiffel Tower, John Lennon mimicking a bust of Napoleon.
The night they found out they were going to the United States, Lennon banged McCartney in the head with a pillow, and the others followed, in what Benson labeled "the pillow fight" photos. These are his favorites, he said in a recent interview.
In Florida, Benson shot the Beatles on beach, frolicking with young, bikini-clad women. In one photo, Ringo Starr (news) talks to a thrilled young woman in the waves while others surround him.
"To say that a lot of women were interested in meeting the Beatles would be a gross understatement," Benson wrote in his book "The Beatles Now and Then," which contains most of the photos on display.
The Beatles aren't the only stars in the images. A grinning Ed Sullivan in a "mop-top" wig warms up the audience before his show, and Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) hams it up with the lads in other photographs.
Benson also documents the fans. Teenagers peeking in the limo windows outside a New York City theater are frozen in mid-scream, while a close up of a shrieking blonde in Copenhagen reminds viewers of the chaos surrounding the band.
In "The Show Begins," four silhouettes are headed to a stage, with blinding bright lights washing out a crowd Benson describes as "deafening."
"All the time it was growing. ... You could feel this wave building up and the crowds were getting bigger and bigger," Benson said.
The exhibit runs through March 2.
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