1964: Eyes of the Storm

Image of 1964: Eyes of the Storm
Release Date: 
June 13, 2023
Reviewed by: 


For readers who love the magical sixties and the legendary Beatles, 1964: Eyes of the Storm is for you.”

Paul McCartney has been known all over the world for more than 60 years—first and foremost—as a founding member of The Beatles, one of the most famous musical groups of all time. For readers who love the magical sixties and the legendary Beatles, 1964: Eyes of the Storm is for you.

Everyone has heard at least one of the Beatles songs initially played on radios, whether rapped to, streamed, or heard live in concert over the years. Gossip columnists have reported marriages, divorces, deaths, charities formed, music catalogues sold, and just about everything under the sun that can be reported about a mega celebrity.

This is an innovative angle for a hefty, 336-page book with 275 black-and-white and color images taken by Sir Paul McCartney, with his own camera, during their first, very public year of fame, from the end of 1963 through their off-the-charts notoriety toward the end of 1964. With America still reeling from the November 1963 death of John F. Kennedy, McCartney thought, “I am very happy that Britain doesn’t have the gun culture that exists in the U.S.”

Photographic highlights of one very long year covered such major destinations as Liverpool, London, Paris, New York (who can forget the Ed Sullivan Show where screaming teens drowned out classic Beatles’ songs?), Washington, D.C., and Miami, as seen from the eyes of the megastar himself. Naturally, most pics are of fellow Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and other entertainment biggies, as, of course, “selfies” hadn’t quite yet been even imagined, though some in which McCartney appeared, were taken by other associates—and even by McCartney in a mirror.

Said McCartney of a photo with John wearing his reading glasses, rarely shown with them, “I love the intimacy of these shots. We were a tight-knit group, so only one of us would have been able to get these kinds of photographs.”

When London correspondent Alexander Kendrick addressed the topic of, “The Beatles . . . said by sociologists to have a deeper meaning,” McCartney’s innocent quip was, “Oh, I dunno . . . The haircuts?”

Photo-accounts of tours in Germany and France introduce the book, but the epicenter for Paul, and for all of the Beatles, was their first visit to New York. McCartney recalled how the Ed Sullivan Show’s makeup artist painted the four with thick pancake makeup for which McCartney said, “We came out the color of orange juice.” But that was required for black-and-white television. Seventy-three million people watched that night—a record for sixties’ TV

In a photo taken in New York City’s Central Park, McCartney joked about his fans, “They were as loud and crazy as our British fans, but with different accents.” And he claimed that some of the photos taken in NYC served as a precursor for the chase scenes for their movie, A Hard Day’s Night.

Arriving in Miami Beach in February 1964, McCartney switched to Kodachrome film for the vibrancy of its environment, nothing like he had ever seen before during dull Liverpool summers.

Be prepared for stunning, relaxed, never-before-seen random color portrait photos of McCartney’s mates, including Lennon’s then-wife, Cynthia, during their Miami trip; he adds about Lennon and Harrison, “I love and miss them both dearly.”

Rosie Broadley, Senior Curator, 20th Century Collections—National Portrait Gallery in London sums up McCartney’s vision: “We were fascinated by what we were doing and what was happening to us. . . . I’ve never lost that sense of wonder.”

Humanitarian, tireless at 81 (as of June 18, 2023), close family man, author of many books, one would deem Sir Paul a “Jack of all trades.” But McCartney demonstrates, in 1964: Eyes of the Storm, a humble talent in the form of black-and-white and color snapshots of his world during perhaps the busiest year of his life, taken with his 35 mm camera, resembling perhaps a form of visual self-therapy—a witness to a historical year with his mates, fans, and on becoming one of the world’s most famous musician-songwriters. Well worth the read for both young and old.