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Harry Benson and the Beatles

Harry Benson encouraged the Beatles to have a pillow fight the night
Harry Benson encouraged the Beatles to have a pillow fight the night "I Want to Hold Your Hand" hit Number 1 in the U.S., but he says he didn't pose the photo.
Harry Benson, courtesy the photographer

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In 1964, Harry Benson was getting on a plane for a foreign assignment in Africa, when he got a call from the London newspaper The Daily Express. He was now going with The Beatles to Paris to document French Beatlemania and what followed was the biggest ride of his life.

Benson was welcomed into The Beatles’ inner sanctum, resulting in some of the most intimate photographs ever taken of the band, then on the verge of world domination. In Paris, he took the famous photograph of the Fab Four having a pillow fight at the George V Hotel; he shot their groundbreaking first visit to the United States, the full impact of New York City hysteria, their famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan show, the band in Florida, including their surprising encounter with Cassius Clay; as well as on the set of A Hard Day’s Night. The relationship continued in 1966, including George’s honeymoon in Barbados and their notorious US tour, under the shadow cast by Lennon’s comment that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus Christ.”

Benson has also shot celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. He has photographed every U.S. President since Eisenhower.


Harry Benson, photographer whose pictures have been featured in Vanity Fair, Life and People