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Newly released photo shows Beatles backstage at the Cavern in 1963

The Beatles backstage at the Cavern in 1963
The Beatles backstage at the Cavern in 1963
Shahrokh Hatami/Courtesy of San Francisco Art Exchange

The San Francisco Art Exchange's newly released 1963 photo of the Beatles at the Cavern taken by Shahrokh Hatami is a rare look at the Beatles before Beatlemania, Jim Hartley of the SFAE told us in an email March 29.

“Only weeks later they would be facing 73 million fans through the cameras of 'The Ed Sullivan Show," Hartley said.

The photograph captures the Fab Four backstage at The Cavern with their images dramatically reflected in the mirror mounted on the wall backstage. The newly available image shows the group tuning up for their second performance of the day in Liverpool in December, 1963.

“The scene was captured in the very same shoot that produced the historic 'Fab Four Backstage at the Cavern' photographs that have gained such widespread attention in recent years,” Hartley said. The group appears in turtlenecks, sitting relaxed, in the dimly lit dressing room with their suits hanging in protective bags against the wall.

“It features the distinctive tone of Hatami’s tungsten film, on which he shot this scene using only available light,” Hartley said in describing it. “It also utilizes several image planes due to the large mirror which functions in a clever way to show all four 'Fabs' at once.”

The photo shows Ringo Starr sitting in the foreground with George Harrison across from him, strumming his guitar and looking into the camera. Deeper into the picture and in soft focus, Paul McCartney and John Lennon are shown in the reflection, seated, with John playing his Rickenbacker.

“Overall there is a very dreamlike quality to the image, it is restful and anticipatory at the same time,” Hartley said.

The picture is available in 16” x 20” and 20” x 24” archival pigment prints signed in limited editions of 25 each. You can find more information on the whole series of Hatami's Beatles Cavern photos at this SFAE link and also on the photographer's website. The gallery is located at 458 Geary St., San Francisco, CA.

Update: Because of all the inquiries on the location of the picture, we asked the gallery. Mr. Hartley's reply: "You're absolutely correct.... they weren't playing at the Cavern that day. Only used it for a place to kick back between gigs according to the photographer and he tracked them down there/arranged for a shoot for Paris Match magazine."


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