The Beatles have always had an uneasy relationship with Memphis, from Ringo Starr’s drunken downtown recording sessions to a 1966 concert at the Mid-South Coliseum, where, in the immediate wake of John Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” controversy, someone threw a cherry bomb on stage during the evening show. Now, 45 years after what has become known as “The Cherry Bomb” concert — an event marked by angry protests, a KKK cross-burning, and even an attempt by the Memphis City Council to stop the show — the Fab Four are back in all their mop-topped glory. The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is hosting “The Beatles Hidden Gallery,” an exhibition of lost photographs by British shutterbug Paul Berriff, who was only 16 when he was given the opportunity to shoot the band.
Berriff’s posed shots look like every other posed shot you’ve seen of the Beatles in their dark-suit, knit-tie, and turtleneck phase. It’s his backstage candids that tell the story. One shot shows Paul McCartney in action on the bass with his rock face on. In another closeup, he seems far less confident, biting absentmindedly at his fingernails. In another shot, a deadpan Starr holds up his cigarette and his wine glass for inspection. It’s these contrasts between the Beatles’ public and private faces that make “The Beatles Hidden Gallery” something music fans will want to check out.