Could this be another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is the famous Revolver cover montage by Klaus Voormann?
In this explainer collage below there’s a question mark about the origins of the photograph Voormann used as inspiration for his drawing of John Lennon:
(Click on the image to see a larger version)
It is the drawing on the top right-hand side:
Could it have been this image?
The eyes, mouth and hair all look very similar.
We don’t think this has been identified in other Revolver photo research info before. See our previous posts on this here and here.
We’re still looking to confirm who might have taken the photo (more on this soon) but beatlesblogger.com reader naturalkatsup, who kindly sent it in, says it was taken at Reed Pigman’s “Pigman Ranch” in Missouri on September 19th, 1964. They say it seems to be taken by a photographer named Curt Gunther? We’re not sure if the image was published in a magazine that Klaus had access to, but naturalkatsup has found other photos from the same day on the web. Here’s the full photo:
And here are a couple of other shots from the same photo shoot:
What do you think? Could this be the source for Klaus Voormann’s Revolver drawing of John?
If you definitely know who the photographer is please get in touch.
We can now confirm that this image was in fact taken by photographer Curt Gunther:
Thanks to the info supplied by naturalketsup, we checked our own Beatle library, and found this book:
It was published in 1989 and chronicles the Beatles’ 1964 tour of the U.S. and Canada in great detail. It includes 150 never-before-seen photographs at the time by freelance photographer, Curt Gunther.
Although Beatle manager Brian Epstein had ordered that no photographers accompany The Beatles on the tour, Derek Taylor, their Press Officer and friend, had persuaded Epstein to allow Gunther to tag along with the touring party. And he captured some amazing images. They were issued in 2000 in an expensive Genesis Publications book called Mania Days.
But prior to that came another more affordable book called Beatles ’64 – A Hard Day’s Night In America, with text by A.J.S Rayl and many of the same photographs by Curt Gunther. Here’s the rear cover:
The book has the details a day the band had off in their hectic schedule and their visit to Reed Pigman’s “Pigman Ranch” in Missouri on September 19th, 1964, including a very scary night flight from Arkansas in a small plane to get there. George Harrison feared they’d perish, just like Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper had in a small plane crash in 1959:
So, this confirms the origins of the image:
And the photographer:
The meetthebeatlesforreal.com site has some more images from the Pigman ranch stay.
The only question is, did Klaus Voormann use one of Gunther’s photos as his inspiration for John Lennon’s image on the cover of Revolver?
We reckon it’s likely.
There’s some background to Curt Gunther’s association with the Beatles at the Genesis Publications page for their ‘Mania Days’ edition:
…and the photograph in question (along with some other great shots from their farm visit) shows up here:
Hi Michael, Thanks for the link to Curt Gunther’s Genesis Publications book. And to the photos from the ranch on meetthebeatlesforreal.com
I have a book called ‘Beatles ’64 – A Hard Day’s Night In America’ by A.J.S.Rayl and Curt Gunther. This also confirms the origins of the photograph. I’ve updated our post to include this info. I genuinely think the Curt Gunther photo could be the inspiration for Klaus Voormann’s Revolver pen and ink drawing. May the detective work continue!
Of course – I’d forgotten about that book, loaded as it is with photos from that visit to the ranch. It *is* a very specific (and uncommonly photographed, for John) eye expression, and given there’s already Curt’s “cowboy” photo of George used on the cover from that same set of images, I’m convinced “beyond reasonable doubt”!
Only thing is that the George photo in the cowboy hat on the front cover is by Robert Freeman and therefore comes from a different shoot. That image is taken from the rear of the Rubber Soul LP. Another one from the same shoot is also on the rear cover of Help!
But, the rendition of John on the Revolver front cover is so very close in eye expression, nose and mouth to the Gunther image from the ranch photo shoot – it’s almost certain to be what Klaus used.
You know, before making that assertion I had pored over all the other shots from the farm (including from the book you mentioned), looking at George’s collar, belt, jeans, boots, the curl of the front rim of his cowboy hat – even the grass in the background – and thought *surely* it must have been taken there, and Curt Gunther seems to have been the only photographer present, so…”. Just goes to show how easy (and tempting) it is to get it wrong!