A Mad Day Out
by Gail Campbell-Thomson, icLiverpool
FANS of the Fab Four will be charging towards Mathew Street at the end of the week for a chance to see British photographer, Tom Murray's extraordinarily thoughtful and quirky The Mad Day: Summer of '68 photographic exhibition.
From April 25th-May 18th 2003 the collection of 23 rare and extremely valuable photographs of the Beatles will be on show, ironically, a few doors down from the Cavern Club.
Acclaimed world-wide, Murray is credited as being the youngest photographer ever to be commissioned by the Royal Family.
Among a long and illustrious career he has worked with some of the best photographers in the world, including Lord Snowdon, Eve Arnold and Helmet Newton.
In his role as portrait photographer Murray can count Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, John Huston, Sir David Lean and fashion designers like Calvin Klein among his subjects.
The Mad Day collection was taken over one extraordinary - well mad - day around London in the summer of 1968.
Murray's friend, war photographer Don McCullum, asked him to come along on a shoot of a pop group he didn't really know.
As it happened, the pop group was none other than The Beatles.
Murray shot two rolls of film during the day, but only kept 23 negatives. Over time, they were forgotten about, until 25 years later.
When last appraised (eleven years ago by Christies), the negatives were valued at $100,000 (over £64,000) each. For those of you whose minds are boggling that is a grand total of $2.3m (over £1.4m).
The collection has been heralded as some of the best photographs ever to be taken of the Beatles, and in the best traditions of guerrilla photography, it was a pure fluke that the shoot ever happened at all.
McCullum's war photography experience came in useful. The locations for the shoot were deliberately random. If the group stayed in one place for too long, hysterical crowds were sure to follow.
So, a small park in Highgate, a house at Swain's Lane, the roof of Old Street Station and a Georgian Square by the Thames all became locations.
It was a strange, often anarchic day. Paul McCartney almost fell off of the roof of Old Street Station and a homeless man asleep on a the park bench where the group were shot in a Hollyhock bush slept on through all the excitement, never realising he'd just been photographed with the most famous band in the world.
And at one point, John Lennon collapsed in the middle of a shot. Rushing to his side in concern, the rest of the band realised that he wasn't hurt, it was just John being John.
The day ended as frantically as it had begun as a group of young girls staking out Paul McCartney's home worked themselves into hysteria when all four Beatles (plus their guest photographers) turned up for tea.
'The Mad Day: Summer of '68' will be showing at the Mathew Street Gallery in Liverpool from April 24th-May 18th, 2003.
Telephone 0151- 236-0009 for further details.