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Identity of Beatles' mystery photographer at '64 Carnegie Hall show sought

New York's Carnegie Hall, where the Beatles played in 1964.
Wikimedia Commons

On Jan. 31, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Carnegie Hall Archives announced they are searching for the woman who was taking photos on stage of the Beatles' Feb. 12, 1964 concert at Carnegie Hall. The woman was seen in photos from the show. (You can see pictures of her at the links.)

According to the Rock Hall's blog, “The show was typical of the nascent days of Beatlemania – screaming fans, confused adults, rock and roll. But behind the Beatles, sitting on the Carnegie Hall stage sat a group of individuals, including a woman with a film camera. Who is that woman and what did she capture from that momentous performance? And where is that footage?”

According to Gino Francescomi, director of the Carnegie Hall Archives and Rose Museum, it's a mystery that's been unsolved for decades.

“I can’t tell you how many times I looked at that photo without noticing the lady with the camera. Then one day – about 25 years ago when we were curating one of our first Carnegie Hall exhibitions – we blew up the image very large, and whoa …

“I contacted Sid Bernstein, whom I had known for years from my days working backstage at the Hall. … I thought for sure he would know who that mysterious woman sitting in the stage seats was, since he controlled the additional seating. But he couldn’t recall other than perhaps she and her companions were friends of Mayor Robert Wagner and Governor Nelson Rockefeller.”

According to Mark Lewisohn in "The Complete Beatles Chronicle," The Beatles performed two 34-minute shows at at 7:45 and 11:15 p.m. that day with a capacity audience of 2,900 at each shows. Tickets for the show sold out in a day. Capitol Records planned to record a live performance, but the American Federation of Musicians blocked the idea. The Hollywood Bowl show in 1964 and two shows in 1965 were recorded instead for a planned eventual release.

Francescomi says he asked Paul McCartney about the woman and McCartney said he didn't know. (Interestingly, according to Carnegie Hall, McCartney was misnamed as John McCartney in the program for the show.)

“I have always been positive thinking that someday we will find the lady with the camera, or she will find us. Perhaps even someone connected to her would get in touch,” Francescomi said.

Anyone with information should contact the Carnegie Hall Archives or leave a message on their Facebook page.


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