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40 Years Of Abbey Road Photo - 8/8/2009: We Want The Beatles

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Uploaded on Aug 8, 2009

... and we got, erm, Sgt Pepper's Only Dartboard Band.

It was forty years ago today...!!! at 11.30 to be precise

I saw one of the original photos - signed and numbered by the author, Ian Macmillan - at one of the London galleries fo 10 thousand pounds recently.

The Beatles decided to shoot the photograph in August 1969 while recording music for the last time together. For the shot, photographer Iain Macmillan stood on a stepladder and police held up traffic while the Beatles walked back and forth across the street just 10 minutes. Only six pictures were taken in all.

Iain Stewart Macmillan (Oct 20, 1938 - May 8, 2006) was the Scottish photographer. After growing up in Scotland, he moved to London to become a professional photographer. He used a photo of Yoko Ono in a book he published in 1966 and was invited by Yoko to photograph her exhibit at Indica Gallery. She introduced him to John Lennon. John invited him to be the photographer for the cover of Abbey Road.

Iain was given a sketch by Paul MacCartney a couple of days before the shoot showing where and what the picture should look like. Iain added his own sketch in the top corner to confirm the layout. The Volkswagen? Iain said "The car just happened to be standing there. It had been left there by someone on holiday. Nobody with any connection to The Beatles. A policeman tried to move it away for us, but he couldn't". On Aug 8, 1969 around 11:30am, Iain climbed up a stepladder about 10 feet in the air in the middle of Abbey Road and took six pictures of the Beatles crossing the street. A policeman was hired to control traffic. The Beatles usually came to the studio around 2-3pm so the earlier hour was chosen to avoid fans.

First Photo. John leads the group from left to right followed by Ringo, Paul and George. They kept this order throughout all the photos. There is a Mercedes pulling out of the studio behind them. John is looking away from the camera and Paul and George are in mid step. Paul is wearing flip-flop sandals!

Second Photo. They walk back in the same order. Good spacing but only John has a full step.

Third Photo. Left to right again, full steps this time but they are all too far left. There is now a traffic backup. There is a taxi, two vans and a double decker bus waiting to come forward. Paul is now barefoot.

Fourth Photo. Walking right to left, once again Paul Ringo and George all in mid step. The traffic has gone through but the bus has stopped to watch. This photo is the cover of "Abbey Road" by Brian Southall.

Fifth Photo. The Cover! The only photo where we see Paul smoking. The only one with their legs in perfect formation. The three men on the left above Paul's head are Alan Flanagan, Steve Millwood and Derek Seagrove. They were interior decorators returning from a lunch break. On the right side between John and Ringo's head is Paul Cole an American tourist.

Sixth Photo. Ringo slightly too far behind John.
After the shoot Iain went to find a road sign for use on the back cover. It was taken on the corner with Alexandra Road. During photographing the sign a girl in a blue dress walked through the shot. Iain was angry but later it was chosen as the back cover. The wall with the sign was demolished several years later.

Iain worked for John and Yoko till 1971 doing such work as:

The cloud on the album cover for Live Peace in Toronto.

Photos on the album Some Time in New York City.

The wedding cake in the Wedding Album.

Yoko's book Flies.

The cover photo on Yoko's book Grapefruit.

The merging heads of John and Yoko on the vinyl single Happy Xmas (War is Over).

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