Friday 24 November 2017

Ringo Starr reunited with Beatles fans he photographed 50 years ago

Ringo Starr (3rd from R) poses for photos with
Ringo Starr (3rd from R) poses for photos with "kids in the car" Bob Toth, Gary Van Deursen, Suzanne Rayot, Arlene Norbe and Charlie Schwartz at the first public launch of Ringo Starr's book in Las Vegas
Ringo's original photograph of the friends

Five American fans of The Beatles, who were photographed by Ringo Starr during the band's first US tour, have finally met their idol almost 50 years later.

The friends were reunited last month, after answering the drummer's appeal for information on the teenagers he captured in a snapshot while being driven from New York's JFK airport in February 1964.

The picture, which Starr took through the window of his limousine on the George Washington Bridge, spans the central pages of Photograph, a new anthology of photography through his career.

Over the weekend, the group – who had skipped lessons at their high school in New Jersey to pursue the band in a Chevrolet Impala that day – were flown to Las Vegas to watch Starr in concert.

"I finally became a centrefold," Suzanne Rayot, 66, told Starr during a meeting backstage. "Thanks for taking such a wonderful picture," added Arlene Norbe, also 66. "I never knew that you were such a gifted photographer." Starr replied: "That's a lucky shot – don't tell anyone".

They were joined by Gary Van Deursen and Robert Toth, both 66, and Charlie Schwartz, 67. A sixth friend, Matt Blender, who is barely visible in the photograph, died in 2011.

Asked what it was like to meet the stars of his photograph, the 73-year-old drummer said: "Far-out... I just happened to like to take photos, so I was like 'I'll take a photo'," Starr told NBC, which organised the meeting. "You know what I mean? It wasn't a big deal, really. It was just a lucky break.

"That photo became much bigger than I thought it ever would," he said. "I mean, I just put it in the book because it's a great shot and then, suddenly in America, everyone was trying to find them!"

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