Beatles Photographer John Loengard Dies Aged 85

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by John Loengard

Beatles photographer John Loengard has passed away aged 85.

Loengard famously snapped the Fab Four for the group’s 1694 cover photo for LIFE Magazine.

The assignment required the prominent magazine photographer to travel to Miami to meet the group on their debut US tour.

On arriving he suggested the four be photographed in a pool.

The band was, initially, reluctant.

It was a frigid winter’s day.

Manager Brian Epstein however insisted.

Appearing on the cover of LIFE, one of America’s most widely circulated magazines and one tasked to “eyewitness great events”, was no small accomplishment.

And as such Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr stripped down to their swimmers for the striking image that resulted.

It was very, very cold,” John Loengarde recalled of the shoot to The Guardian in 2005, “and they were turning blue, so after a minute or two we let them get out.”

The New York resident has was celebrated for his work with a number of other public figures.

During his time with LIFE, he would capture images of US President John F. Kennedy, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, and Queen Elizabeth II amongst many other era-defining personalities.

A classicist, Loengard would only shoot in black and white.

After parting ways with LIFE in 1972, Loengard would pass on his knowledge of the trade, authoring several books dealing with the art of photography.

Mostly what intrigues me,” the photographer share of work before his death, “is to find something interesting in a subject that doesn’t interest me but interests somebody else. I like to surprise myself. As a LIFE photographer, you [had] carte blanche to do whatever you want. It intrigues me to find what nobody expected to be found in a story.

He died in his Mahannten home on May 21 from heart-related complications.

The news follows the death of early Beatles photographer Astrid Kitchener, who passed away May 13.

More of Loenagard’s work here.

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