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The Beatles’ First US Concert Photos for Sale

By Nicholas McLaughlin & Katy Mantyk
Epoch Times Staff
Created: May 25, 2011 Last Updated: May 25, 2011
Related articles: Arts & Entertainment » Music
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US DEBUT: Not many photos of this concert exist, but in 1964 Mike Mitchell captured The Beatles' first concert in the United States up close. This image is a highlight of the sale of 50 large prints at Christie's in July.  (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

US DEBUT: Not many photos of this concert exist, but in 1964 Mike Mitchell captured The Beatles' first concert in the United States up close. This image is a highlight of the sale of 50 large prints at Christie's in July. (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

NEW YORK—It’s been 40 years since The Beatles split up, but their popularity lives on, minus the hysterical Beatlemania of the 60s. Thousands of people still travel on a musical pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields, the area where John Lennon used to play as a child. It is also the title of a song that would later become a Beatles’ anthem.

Fans will be delighted to hear that 50 lots of unpublished and never-before-seen photographs of The Beatles’ first visit to America in 1964 will be up for auction at Christie’s New York on July 20.

Two days after their momentous American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” The Beatles performed their first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum.

JOHN AND PAUL: Highlight from the upcoming July 20 sale The Beatles Illuminated: The Discovered Works of Mike Mitchell. (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

JOHN AND PAUL: Highlight from the upcoming July 20 sale The Beatles Illuminated: The Discovered Works of Mike Mitchell. (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

According to a recent article in The Telegraph, Sir Paul McCartney said they’d seen many other British pop bands fail in the United States, and they were determined not to. They waited until they had a No. 1 hit in the United States, which happened in 1963 with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

“It was very clear in my mind. We cannot go there until we have cracked it with a record,” McCartney said in The Telegraph.

It was only two years later that The Beatles stopped performing live for a while, as the girls would scream so loud they couldn’t hear themselves singing, noted Simeon Lipman, Christie’s pop culture consultant to the Associated Press.

GEORGE: These boys waited for the perfect moment to tour America, and they nailed it. This is one of 50 shots never seen before of the world's most famous pop band.  (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

GEORGE: These boys waited for the perfect moment to tour America, and they nailed it. This is one of 50 shots never seen before of the world's most famous pop band. (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

Mike Mitchell, who was only 18 at the time, captured dozens of intimate and exciting photos of the band. Mitchell had special press access to the events surrounding The Beatles’ U.S. tour, including their arrival at Union Station, the press conference before the show, and unrestricted stage-front access for the whole concert at the Coliseum.

Mitchell told the Associated Press (AP) that there were no cordoned-off media pens or tight security during the concert.

GET READY: Christie's has set pre-sale estimates attractively low, but expect the bidding to be intense among collectors.  (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

GET READY: Christie's has set pre-sale estimates attractively low, but expect the bidding to be intense among collectors. (Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2011)

A highlight of the sale is a backlit photo of the band with illuminating light halos around their heads. Mitchell shot it at a press conference while he was standing behind the Beatles.

The sale, The Beatles Illuminated: The Discovered Works of Mike Mitchell, is expected to reach in the region of $100,000.

The black-and-white prints have been priced “in an attractive way” to attract a broader range of collectors, according to Cathy Elkies, Christie’s director of iconic collections, in an AP report. “Beatles fans are fierce. To uncover this trove of images that’s never been published will really excite people,” Elkies told the AP.

Christie’s London galleries will display the photos first on June 11–12, and then at other venues around London before moving to New York’s Rockefeller Plaza from July 11–20, with the auction at 7 p.m. on July 20.




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