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Friday, March 22, 2013

It's fifty years today since The Beatles became icons

The Beatles first LP was released fifty years ago today. The cover was shot by Angus McBean, a celebrated theatrical photographer of the time, known for his surrealist style.

He didn't do anything weird with "the boys". They met him in reception at EMI's HQ in Manchester Square, he looked up at the stairwell and said "why don't you go up there and look over?"

They did. McBean lay on his back in reception and shot a few frames. Job done. An image was created in those brief moments that resounds down the years.

The Beatles restaged the shot themselves for the cover of their Red and Blue hits albums at the end of the decade. The Sex Pistols posed in the same place for the same picture. When EMI left Manchester Square it took the staircase with it and installed it in new offices in Hammersmith.

I can live without the album, which is weedy compared to what was to come. But the cover of that record is the first thing The Beatles did that you could call "iconic".

It wasn't the last.