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Lost archive of Beatles photos featured in new book

Bill Carlson was an industrious 17-year-old high school student and part-time staff photographer at the prestigious Merle Morris Studios in Minneapolis when the Telex came in, offering press credentials for the Beatles concert at what was then the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn.

"The press officers were blanketing the area, trying to get as much publicity as possible," Carlson recalls. "Basically, there was no interest from the other photographers at Morris. But for me, it just seemed like a cool event and I was scouting around for something interesting to shoot."

Carlson grabbed his Hasselbiad and Nikon cameras and headed out to the Met, gaining access to not only the concert -- which occurred that evening, Aug. 21, 1965 -- but also the Fab Four's arrival at the airport, and the afternoon press conference at WDGY radio. He even rubbed elbows with George Harrison, complimenting him on his new Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar that was presented by B-Sharp Music that day. Later, Carlson made a few prints for himself, and his high school newspaper ran a few shots with a short story. He then filed the negatives away for nearly 40 years.

In 2004, Carlson resuscitated the negatives from a file cabinet, and the now classic black and white photos are finally given their due in The Beatles! A One Night Stand in the Heartland, a new book now available.

With a forward written by noted Beatles expert Larry Kane, the book documents a day in the life of the legendary band on tour with over 140 never-before published images of the band, recollections from fans who were there, and local newspaper accounts of the magical concert.

"1965 was a year I will never forget. A local disc jockey, Bill Diehl, introduced the Beatles by saying, 'a funny thing happened to me on the way to the stadium today. . . THE BEATLES.' I had goose bumps and my teenage heart was pumping. I remember thinking, 'So this is how a real rock concert was supposed to feel." --Tom Hopp, concert-goer

Carlson experienced Beatlemania first-hand on that warm summer day in the heartland: the hysteria that erupted at the airport, where security could not subdue the throngs of screaming Minnesotans and later, the 25,000 or more cheering, swooning, shouting, clapping, and crying concertgoers who were transformed by what they experienced.. . even though most of them probably couldn't hear a single note being sung. Curiously, the show did not sell out -- it was the only concert on their 1965 tour with empty seats in the house, which obviously mattered little to the Midwestern fans. The promoter, Ray Colihan (also known as Big Reggie), was afraid that advertising the event would cause an overabundance of kids and with it, all kinds of police trouble, reveals concert emcee Bill Diehl from WDGY in a candid interview.

Paul, John, George and Ringo were relaxed, funny, and affable, and Carlson captures the smiling lads in their most candid moments during the pre-concert press conference. One shot shows Paul accepting the gift of a cigar; in another, John smilingly tweaks his ear.

Interestingly, Carlson was not a big Beatles fan before the concert. "Photographers are all about doing. They are always looking forward to their next project, or to their next shoot. It's not about retrospection, which probably explains why I didn't value what I did. There are images that I made 30-40 years ago that I should take a look at, chiefly because of their significance to others," he explains.

This Thursday, November 1st, at 7:00 P.M., The Mall of America, KOOL 108 with Barnes & Noble, and F-Stop Productions, are hosting a rockin' concert event, free to the public to promote this new released book.

Author/hometown boy Bill Carlson will tell his story of that momentous day in 1965, with a book signing to follow. Special guests include Larry Kane, award-winning broadcast journalist, with live music by RetroFit, and radio partner KOOL 108 emcee, Dan Riggs. Rickenbacker guitars will be presented by Nate Westgor of famed Willie's American Guitars to the winners of our "One Night Stand in the Heartland" Beatles song contest.

In the book, Mr. Carlson sums up the collection by saying, "Before everything went digital, there was no 'delete' option on the camera. I suppose this was a happy inconvenience, because many of the shots that speak to people today are ones that I would not have selected."

Beatles fans are indeed lucky for that "happy inconvenience", the photos that fill the pages of The Beatles! A One Night Stand in the Heartland offer a unique time capsule of that one magical day in 1965 when the Beatles performed in Minnesota.

For more information on the book, and to buy Fine Art Prints of these special photos, visit F-Stop Productions.


Published October 29, 2007

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