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The Beatles (George Harrison; Paul McCartney; Ringo Starr; John Lennon)

16 of 60 portraits of Ringo Starr

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© Norman Parkinson Archive/ Iconic Images

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The Beatles (George Harrison; Paul McCartney; Ringo Starr; John Lennon)

by Norman Parkinson
bromide print, 12 September 1963
9 7/8 in. x 14 7/8 in. (250 mm x 378 mm) image size
Given by Norman Parkinson, 1981 in conjunction with the NPG exhibition 'Norman Parkinson: 50 Years of Portraits and Fashion'
Photographs Collection
NPG x27128

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Norman Parkinson (1913-1990), Photographer. Artist of 242 portraits, Sitter in 13 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The most famous Britons of the 1960s, the Beatles sold 150 million albums during the decade; 'Beatlemania' erupted in the year Parkinson's photograph was taken and for the next seven years the group needed police protection wherever they appeared. Taken in a hotel in Russell Square on an early visit to London.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 283 Read entry

    The sitters are (left to right): George Harrison born 1943; Paul McCartney born 1942; Ringo Starr born 1940 and John Lennon 1940-80.

    In 1963 Beatlemania swept Britain (it was to sweep America in the following year). With the release of their hit single ‘She Loves You’ the ‘Fab Four’ from Liverpool and their ‘Mersey Sound’ created a popular music phenomenon. They were the first group to write, sing and play their own material, and, skilfully produced, they revolutionized the sales of long-playing records throughout the world. Their services to music (and to the balance of payments) were recognized by the award of MBEs in 1965. Two years later they released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, often considered the finest rock music album ever made. The group split up in 1970.

    Norman Parkinson, who trained with the society photographers Speaight & Sons of Bond Street, opened his first studio at 1 Dover Street, Piccadilly, London, and rapidly established a reputation as one of the top portrait photographers, with a modern and creative approach to portraiture based on imaginative film-lighting effects. After the war he began a long association with the Condé Nast organization, working for Vogue, and is now recognized as the doyen of British fashion photographers. He photographed The Beatles in their hotel room in Russell Square, when they were in London to record tracks for their LP With the Beatles on the eve of their first tour of America, under the initial impact of fame: a frieze of smiling faces.

  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 264

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1963back to top

Current affairs

The Secretary of State for War, John Profumo is found to have lied to the House of Commons when he denied having an affair with the showgirl, Christine Keeler. The Profumo Affair was a public scandal for the Conservative party, and ultimately contributed to the resignation of Harold Macmillan.

Art and science

Doctor Who is first broadcast on the BBC with William Hartnell playing the Doctor. This long running science fiction series about an alien Time Lord who travels through time and space in his police-box-shaped Tardis has been watched by generations of viewers (often from behind the back of the sofa), and features imaginative, but traditionally low-budget, special effects, innovative electronic music, and the Doctor's greatest enemy, the Daleks.


John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Texas. The arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald for his murder did not prevent a score of conspiracy theories involving Cuba, the CIA, the KGB, and the Mafia among others.
Martin Luther King delivers his 'I have a dream' speech, marking an important moment in the civil rights movement in America and helping to secure him the Nobel Peace Prize' in 1964.

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