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August 26, 2020

John Lennon and Paul McCartney Photographed by David Bailey, 1965

David Bailey (born 1938) has long been one of the most famous commercial photographers in the world. He rose to fame as a fashion photographer in the early 1960s. Bailey has worked for magazines and newspapers from Vogue to the Daily Telegraph, photographing most of the key cultural figures from the worlds of pop music, literature and theatre with a simple and dramatic style. He has remarked that his approach was inspired by the the style and free expression of working girls in dance halls. Bailey continues to have a successful and high profile career as a photographer and film maker.

He published David Bailey’s Box of Pin-Ups in 1965 as a loose portfolio of 36 portraits of the mainly-male fashionable elite that, as the cover description states, “belong to Bailey’s own world of fashion, pop music and the Ad Lib [nightclub].” Each portrait is accompanied by notes by Francis Wyndham. Together, they constitute a celebration of the growing celebrity culture of the Sixties, and many of them have become the definitive images of key figures of cultural life in London during the Swinging Sixties.

Surprisingly, only four of the pin-ups are women, all of whom are models; as the notes explain, “in the age of Mick Jagger, it is the boys who are the pin-ups.” John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the singer-song writing team of the Beatles, were the ultimate 1960s pin-ups.

David Bailey on the Beatles, originally published in the March 2014 issue of British GO magazine:
“John wasn’t really a friend. He was just someone I used to see at the Ad Lib [club] all the time. I remember John smoking a joint with me at the top of the Ad Lib and saying, “Shit. I’ve arrived. I’m on the roof of the Ad Lib smoking a joint with David Bailey!”

I didn’t like the Beatles – I liked John. The Beatles were a boy band. I thought they were square as houses. And then -suddenly The White Album and all those records came along and you sort of thought, ah, they are more interesting than I thought… but all that rubbish about Paul McCartney thinking he made the Sixties. It was nothing to do with the Sixties! London made the Beatles! It was happening in London, it wasn’t happening in Liverpool.

John was a f***er. Paul was always the nicest guy in the world. George, he always seemed full of angst. Ringo always seemed Mr Nice Guy. But John was a bit poky; I liked him.

I told John to close his eyes because I could feel this tension between him and Paul. I did them [together] afterwards; I got them looking different ways because there was such a tension. Although I’ve never seen it like those two guys – Oasis. I was doing their first Rolling Stone cover and I did it in ten minutes because I thought they were going to kill each other.

I saw Paul recently and he introduced me to his new woman. He said, “This is Bailey. The first thing he ever said to me was so rude. He said, ‘Michelle, my belle’ – are you f***ing joking, Paul?” When I said that to him he actually told me to piss off, which isn’t a very Paul McCartney thing to do.

I’d like to say for the record that it wasn’t Ringo who came up with [the title] “Eight Days A Week”; it was me. John Lennon was in the Ad Lib one night and he asked me how hard I worked. And I said, “How hard do I work? I’ll tell you, John, I work eight days a week.”

I’m a bit concerned about my work looking like the Sixties. Damien [Hirst] always says the worst insult is, “I like your early stuff.” Because they don’t know what else to say. But you have to live with that. I have to live with John Lennon.”


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