Dezo Hoffmann – The Beatles Conquer America

I was in Lismore in New South Wales last week (it’s a small-ish Australian country town in the north of the state). Once I’d completed my work business there I had about 40 minutes to spare before my plane home, so I went for a walk around the town’s CBD. You can probably guess that I can’t resist a second hand/old wares shop when I find one. Especially the one I did find, which was advertising “All Books Half Price”.

Inside this store was a treasure trove. Not only are most walls lined chock-full with old books of all sorts, but there’s antique furniture, old toys, art works, advertising signs, glassware, ornaments and all sorts of collectables.

They had a crate of old records and, while there were some interesting things there from other artists, no Beatles or Beatles-related sadly. “Do you have a music section in the books?”, I asked. “Well, we haven’t got much, but its over there.”, said the sales assistant, pointing to my right.

They actually had four Beatles books.  1. A hardback copy (in pretty good condition) of Peter Brown’s book “The Love You Make – An Insider’s Story of the Beatles” (1983);  2. An original paperback of a book based on the film “Help!” (1965) written by Al Hine (in just reasonable condition);  3. An original paperback called “Love Me Do – The Beatles Progress” (1964) by Michael Braun, similar in vintage and condition to the “Help!” book; and 4. “The Beatles Conquer America”, a book of photographs taken by Dezo Hoffmann.

I already have Peter Brown’s book and, while tempting as they are collectable items, the two old paperbacks were not in the greatest condition. Also, even at half price were reasonably expensive. So, I went for the Dezo Hoffmann book:

Front Cover - The Beatles Conquer America

For a book that came out in 1984 it was in almost mint condition. It contains some absolutely fantastic and rare photographs, and at the half-price cost of just A$7.50, it was a bargain addition to the collection. The black and white photographs were all taken between January 14 and February 22, 1964 when Dezo Hoffmann accompanied the Beatles from London to New York, Washington, Miami, and then back to London. It was their first American tour, and the Beatles as a pop phenomenon was really kicking into gear…

Rear cover - The Beatles Conquer America

The book also contains photos from a short tour to Paris prior to the US visit. Dezo Hoffmann was a Beatles insider – having taken an interest in photographing the band from well before their meteoric rise to fame. As such he got unique access – as seen throughout this book. Dezo also writes a short description of the background to each photograph. Here’s a quick flip through just a couple of the pages:

There is very much a “fly on the wall” feel to these photographs. They capture the Beatles at ease and enjoying themselves away from the fans, enjoying performing, and just soaking up the success that was coming their way.

If you don’t think you’ve ever seen a Dezo Hoffman image of the Beatles before, you might know this one:

Click here for a larger image and some official info on this release. In looking around for additional information on Dezo Hoffmann I found an interesting page about how his original shot outside the BBC was manipulated for this now famous cover.

As well as historic photographs, Dezo Hoffmann also took many informal home movies on location with the Beatles:

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