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Photographer Harry Benson on iconic Beatles photos, 60 years later

The Beatles have a pillow fight. (Harry Benson)
The Beatles have a pillow fight. (Harry Benson)

It’s been 60 years since photographer Harry Benson reluctantly agreed to cover the Beatles, first in Paris and then on their historic visit to the United States.

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Now 94-year-old Benson reflects on the close relationships he developed with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

They allowed Benson to capture some iconic moments from their pillow fight the night “I Want to Hold Your Hand” hit the top of the American charts, to their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Watch on YouTube.

Benson decided to stay in the United States where his subjects included former presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, in addition to American icons like Muhammed Ali, Jackie Kennedy and Michael Jackson. As a photojournalist, he chronicled Robert Kennedy’s last moments and walked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Meredith march.

He joins host Robin Young to talk about his years with the Beatles and how photography shaped his life. An exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary of his arrival in the U.S. with the Beatles runs through February at New York’s Museum of Art and Design.

The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan show. (Harry Benson)

The Beatles composing music. (Harry Benson)

Muhammad Ali and The Beatles. (Harry Benson)

Beatlemania at the Plaza Hotel. (Harry Benson)

Paul McCartney on a train in 1964. (Harry Benson)

The Beatles and Muhammad Ali in 1964. (Harry Benson)

Spike Lee. (Harry Benson)

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