Hanging out with the Beatles

Go back in time with photographer Henry Grossman, who became a friend of the Beatles and was invited to document their lives

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Photographer Henry Grossman became a friend of the Beatles in the 1960s. In the four videos below, Grossman remembers each band member with a series of rare, intimate snapshots.

John Lennon

John was thoughtful," says Grossman. "Looking back over my pictures of him, I see how many pictures he's looking thoughtful...or studying something or watching something."

"People asked me, 'Was John the controlling figure?' I never saw that in the time I spent with them," says Grossman. "I saw a team." In an interview with 60 Minutes Overtime, Grossman shows us glimpses of John Lennon's family life, his personal evolution during his time with the Beatles, and even his light-hearted side, captured in a fun moment on a skateboard.

How did Grossman get this kind of access? "I think I was one of the guys that didn't want anything from them...I was just glad to be there as a friend and a photojournalist."

Paul McCartney

"Paul was full of fun and a fun seeker," says Grossman. Hear Grossman's memories of his time with Paul McCartney through some of his best Beatles photographs, including an unusual shot showing Paul play the drums while smoking a cigarette. Grossman recalls Ringo complaining, "Every time I get up from the drums, I come back, there's Paul beating on the drums!"

Grossman also captured pivotal scenes in Beatles recording sessions, but he says he wasn't aware that musical history was being made before his eyes. "I didn't listen to their music," says Grossman. "I was listening to classical opera and symphonies."

George Harrison

George Harrison and Henry Grossman developed a close friendship during the time he photographed the band. "George was philosophical," he says. "No put-on, no pretense-- that's what I liked about all of the guys....Unless you spent time with them, around them, you could not know how simple and direct they were all the time.

Grossman says he saw many changes in George over the years he photographed him: "One time, I went over to visit George, and there was an instrument on the wall. And I said, 'What is that?' He reached up, took it down, and started playing with the strings a bit. He said, 'It's a sitar, but I can't find anybody to teach me how to play it'....The next time I went to his home in London, he greeted me at the door barefoot and in Indian garb."

Ringo Starr

"Ringo was a hell of a lot of fun," says Grossman. Ringo Starr liked to goof around with Grossman's cameras whenever he wasn't looking. "He would walk up to me sometimes and say, 'Henry, look over there.' And I'd look over there, and he'd put his finger on my motorized Nikon button and hold it down, and the camera would go ch-ch-ch---."

Many of Grossman's photographs of the Beatles have an intimate quality, like snapshots from an intimate family photo album. "I came up as a candid photographer," explains Grossman. "That's where I started, shooting candids. I don't know about posing people in pictures, really."

To learn more about Henry Grossman and to see more of his historic photographs of American history, go to henrygrossman.com

Editor's Note: These Overtime videos were originally published Nov. 10, 2013

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