Eppridge believed that a good photojournalist had a certain amount of luck when
it came to being in the right place at the right time. He certainly was in the
right place on the morning of February 7, 1964. Bill, just 26, was in the Life
magazine office early that day when Director of Photography Dick Pollard needed
someone to be at JFK Airport to photograph the arrival of a British rock group known as The Beatles.
Not only was Bill there when they stepped off the plane,
but he also followed the group for the next six days. Strangely, all 90
rolls of film, with more than 3000 images went missing for years. They
resurfaced around the same time that The Beatles were breaking up and Life, the
great weekly news magazine, was ending as well. This is the backstory:
had known Bill for more than seven years before discovering that he had
photographed The Beatles on that first visit to the United States in 1964.
While researching photographs for a magazine project in 1993, I came across an
old Beatles black-and-white print with Bill's photo credit on the back -
"Bill Eppridge/Life Magazine." The print had come from the Time Life
picture collection. I thought there might be more.
phoned Bill to ask about the photograph. He was very nonchalant - it was no big
deal. I, on the other hand, still remembered watching the Ed Sullivan show on a Sunday night in 1964 and
hearing the screaming audience as the Beatles played "She Loves You."
The Beatles made an impression on me even though I was only nine.
told me how he had turned in his film to the Time Life lab after spending those
six days with The Beatles, traveling from New York to Washington, D.C., and
back. He made pictures as they happened, never staging anything.
published four of his photographs. Soon after, Bill was assigned to the Chicago
bureau. Constantly traveling, he never had time to see the contact sheets from
those six days. A few months later, when he finally asked, the film could not
be located. No one at the magazine or the photo lab seemed to know where it was.
or eight years later, the film finally turned up on his desk with an anonymous
note. There was no explanation as to where it had been all those years.
The Beatles were no longer together as a group. Life ceased publication in
December 1972, a short time after the missing photographs mysteriously
reappeared. Bill never solved the mystery. He added a note to his
acknowledgements page of our new book published in February 2014 with the hope
that someone might finally come forward and unravel the mystery. Anybody?
Aurichio is co-editor of "The Beatles: Six Days That Changed the World" (Rizzoli), which features the best of Bill Eppridge's photographs from
February 7 - 12, 1964. In his acknowledgments, Mr. Eppridge wrote,
"I owe so much to my wife and editor, Adrienne Aurichio, who spent weeks
going through the three thousand images on ninety rolls of film to piece
together my story. I relied on her vision and experience as an editor to
research and unravel the photographs, and then pull them together in
chronological order." Mr. Eppridge died October 3, 2013. A
successful photojournalist his entire career, he is perhaps best known for his
photograph of the dying Robert F. Kennedy, taken June 6, 1968.
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