In the summer of 1968, The Beatles had noticed that whenever a news article reported their current activities, it was accompanied by a photograph of them wearing their psychedelic fashions from the year before; or worse yet, a picture of them as the loveable mop-tops from the “Beatlemania” era. The press no longer had the opportunity to photograph the group since they hadn’t performed in concert since 1966, and they were making fewer and fewer public appearances together. Consequently, the media never had current pictures of the ever-evolving group. With the exception of a very brief photo session in EMI recording studios on February 8th, The Beatles hadn’t posed for any group photos in 1968. A plan was made to shoot some new photographs for the media, “with a difference”.
In the midst of recording sessions for their next record “The White Album”, the group chose to stage their photo-shoot as a Mad Day Out, photographed at random locations in London, on Sunday July 28th1968. Paul’s then girlfriend, Francie Schwartz was asked to select the locations that would act as suitable photographic sites.
Veteran war photographer Don McCullin was brought in to act as primary cameraman and asked Mr. Murray to give him a lift to a publicity shoot of an unnamed popular rock and roll group; he suggested that Tom bring along his camera and take a few snaps. Murray was one of the select few people given carte blanche to photograph The Beatles in 1968, a year when they kept themselves away from photographers as much as possible.
“At first they were fed up of having pictures taken so they stopped doing shoots altogether”, remembers Murray, “but when they kept seeing out of date photos they decided to do one final day of what they called “mad” photography. They hired Don to capture their antics as they wanted and I was left to my own devices to shot whatever I liked. It’s a photographer’s dream to be free to shoot what they want: no brief, no instructions and no restrictions.”
“It really was a mad day rushing around London. We would get half-an-hour, maybe forty-five minutes at the most in any one place before too many people arrived, which was really good. I doubt you could do it now. You’d be inundated with screaming fans and paparazzi in about 30 seconds!”
Getting close to a group as famous as The Beatles posed no problems for Tom. “it was as perfect a day as I could wish for. Getting to hang out with one of my favourite bands and take pictures was just sensational. Were they really mad? Well, you know what pop stars are like. They’re always running around doing crazy things. That’s what makes them so interesting.”
The day after the shoot, The Beatles recorded Hey Jude. Tom’s two rolls of film were processed and printed, and then incredibly, stored away for almost thirty years.