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The Beatles Stormed America in 1964. I was with them, day and night

However, John, like all the Beatles, was worried about what lay ahead. Would the American media be hard on them? Or did they misunderstand something they said in the interview? Because of all the press, would the protesters take the opportunity to do some kind of protest? As the plane arrived, John and I saw a crowd lining the roof of the terminal. But it was a crowd of fans waving and screaming hysterically. They were serenaded. You heard the crowd sing, «She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.» It was a lovefest.

On the flyover, I suggested a photo idea that the Beatles liked: I would be the fifth person off the plane, and when the band got halfway up the boarding steps, turn around and look at me– and I would take pictures of them with the press, the crowd and the New York City skyline in the background. The picture would literally say: The Beatles are coming to America. But in my mind, it also said: Benson got a shot that no one else could get.

So we got off the plane: George, then John, Paul, Ringo, then me. And they were so distracted that they forgot to turn around! They were caught up in this chaotic drama. The crowd screamed. The press shouted, «Look here!» It was deafening. I just grabbed Ringo by the coat and yelled, «Turn around!» and shouted to the others and they all looked back, Paul was waving. Bingo. Thank you, Ringo. I shot three pictures. One shot was fired in Express the next day under the headline: «Crazy…this is New York when the Beatles come.»

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February 8, Manhattan

On our second day in New York, we went to the CBS TV studio for a rehearsal. Ed Sullivan was the host of the most popular variety show on television. He was respectful and accommodating. He even put on a Beatles wig for fun. They soaked up the attention. Everywhere we went – ​​in restaurants, around the bar – Beatles music was playing. But they never allowed themselves to get a swollen head. We usually just sat on the Plaza.

As in Paris, I stayed on the same floor as the band. Fact: When you have good looking guys and their record is number one, you have girls fighting to get into the elevators and back stairs to get to the 12th floor. Reality: A couple of girls sneaked in and jumped on their beds and had to be escorted away by security. This was rock and roll. Elvis Presley, same thing. But it was a big problem for Epstein because he didn’t want any incident to happen on his watch. He discussed it with me: “We have to watch it. Introducing the Beatles to young girls and we are responsible.»

I began to understand how the band influenced each other. As I saw it, Paul was the leader. Thinking about their image, he seemed to be the most sophisticated, the most enterprising. He was optimistic and encouraging. On other days, John was a leader in a different way. He was certainly the conscience of the group. Creatively, you sensed that John and Paul were in charge, who insisted, “This it’s what we do.” Together they had the last word.

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