Mike Mitchell was just 18 when he caught The Beatles in his hometown on their inaugural tour in 1964, with camera in hand. He came away with 50 iconic photos that captured the explosion of Beatlemania.
Mitchell is now putting the lot up for auction at Christie’s in a sale that could fetch $100,000 or more. The images have been filed away for nearly fifty years.
“The intimacy of these images is just incredible. And they’re so young, these were still the early days,” said Cathy Elkies, director of Iconic Collections at Christie’s.
Among the photos are compositions showing John Lennon holding a cigarette, Paul McCartney singing, Ringo Starr flailing at his Ludwig drums and George Harrison playing the guitar.
Check out rare Beatles photos; click to enlarge.
Such pictures “would be impossible today, when there is so much exposure” of bands, said Elkies praising the quality of the compositions.
The photos are currently on display in London and will be moved to New York for the auction on July 20.
Mitchell was able to land a press pass which gave him exceptional access to the Beatles first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum on Feb.11, 1964.
Two days earlier, the band was introduced to America on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
With only three major networks at the time, shows were able to draw huge audiences. More than 73 million people tuned in to see the Fab Four play.
After attending the show, Mitchell filed away the photos in his basement and there they remained until recently.
They are now being displayed at Christie’s auction house and at the Hotel Marriot at Grosvenor House in London
Mitchell covered the press conference preceding the performance, had stage-front access, and shot more photographs at the band’s Baltimore Civic Center show on Sept. 13, 1964.
“It was great, there were all these screaming girls — they were mostly girls — and we were all so young,” Mitchell told reporters. “I loved the music. I identified with it. The sound was so different and so alive.”