Monday, June 23, 2008
Mad Day Out
By 1968, the Beatles' overall appearance had changed significantly from the "Mop Tops" of '63. Even the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper finery was of the past as well. However, due to the lack of public appearances by the Beatles, the press had no current images and thus relied on older photographs to illustrate articles or news items concerning the group. While in the middle of the tenuous "White Album" sessions, the Beatles decided to concoct a "Mad Day Out" about London, inviting several photographers to document their antics throughout the day. Paul's then-girlfriend Francie Schwartz chose the seven locations for the shoot (as well as Paul's lovely pink suit), which took place on July 28, 1968:
1. Thompson House (blue and foil background shots)
2. Mercury Theatre (photos with the parrot)
3. Highgate Cemetery
4. Old Street Underground Station (the mock fighting, falling, etc. location)
5. St. Pancreas Old Church and Gardens (the bench, flowers, fountain and fence shots)
6. Wapping Pier Head (at photographer Tom Murray's suggestion)/St Katherine's Dock (all the photos on the docks)
7. Paul's home at 7 Cavendish Avenue ( Paul's "bubble sunroom" with the pentagon, honeycomb- patterned glass)
The photos from the "Mad Day Out" are some of the most popular and widely circulating of the Beatles' career. Because they are so well-known, I haven't tried to document the session completely--I've only scanned some from the Beatles Monthly Book. As you may notice, the first section of photos I posted are actually screen captures. Apparently, someone was also preserving the day on film as well, and Paul is in possession of this film. When Paul's Wingspan documentary premiered, fans were treated to the first 12 second snippet of this film that was not previously known to exist. Then, when Paul toured the US in 2005, different parts of this home movie were featured in a pre-show documentary. When The Space Within US was released on DVD, thankfully the pre-show film was included in the special features. I wish more of the Mad Day Out footage would be released! It would have been perfect for the Anthology project. Wouldn't it be amazing to actually see the footage of the boys clowing around?
According to photographer Tom Murray, "The band were getting on really well that day. I know it's reported at the time that they weren't but all I saw was four boys having a great time."
You can see more photos from this session here: Mad Day Out