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The Beatles and ‘Rubber Soul’ Photographer Robert Freeman Has Passed Away Aged 82

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Robert Freeman

Robert Freeman, the photographer of the iconic covers of the Beatles Help! and Rubber Soul has passed away aged 82.

Both surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr have paid tribute.

“He was one of our favourite photographers during the Beatles years who came up with some of our most iconic album covers,” Paul wrote via his website. “Besides being a great professional he was imaginative and a true original thinker. People often think that the cover shot for  Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor.

“Bob also took the Rubber Soul cover,” McCartney continued, telling of how Freeman created the iconic image which played no small part in kickstarting Sixties psychedelia. “His normal practice was to use a slide projector and project the photos he’d taken onto a piece of white cardboard which was exactly album sized, thus giving us an accurate idea of how the finished product would look. During his viewing session the card which had been propped up on a small table fell backwards giving the photograph a ‘stretched’ look. Instead of simply putting the card upright again we became excited at the idea of this new version of his photograph. He assured us that it was possible to print it this way and because the album was titled Rubber Soul we felt that the image fitted perfectly.

“I will miss this wonderful man,” the former Beatle concluded, “but will always cherish the fond memories I have of him.

Ringo’s response was shorter: “God bless Robert Freeman peace and love to all his family.

Yoko Ono has also remarked on Freeman’s passing commenting: “Every tragedy made me know. Every happiness made me grow.”

Likewise, there have been posts about Freeman on both the Beatles and John Lennon‘s official social media accounts.

Freeman cut his teeth at the British newspaper the Sunday Times, taking photos of several iconic jazz artists before catching the attention of the Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

After being commissioned to shoot the group in 1963, Robert spent several years working closely with the band.

No cause of death has been suggested but it is known that Freeman had been ill for some time.

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