Sunday, 6 June 2010

Well, shake it up baby now

I've always loved the Twist and Shout EP ever since listening to my dad's copy when I was about 8 and dancing round my bedroom, blissfully unaware that the band who produced the wonderful and exciting sounds coming from my little record player had been broken up for more than a decade already.

As much as I loved the music of the EP's four songs - A Taste of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret, There's A Place, as well as the earth-shattering title track - the record cover always intrigued me. To me, it's one of those 'what happened next' photos, as I always imagined them falling off, of what looked like a rather precarious place to be jumping about on, after the picture was taken.

What's so great about being a Beatle fan is the things you learn about because they are in some way connected to the band. For instance, all the great photographers whose work I've discovered through them having taken famous beatle record covers or portraits.

One photographer remained outwith my radar until today. Browsing news items online I came across notice of a touring exhibition (currently in Norwich but, alas, not coming to Scotland) called Beatles To Bowie, which had been curated by the National Portrait Gallery. Featured in the exhibition is the work of one Fiona Adams, who captured none other than the iconic Twist and Shout shot.

To my shame, I had never heard of Adams, and had assumed that my fave EP cover had been taken by one of the big male beatle photographers of the time such as Angus McBean, Dezo Hoffman, Robert Whitaker or the like. In fact, apart from Linda Eastman, I wasn't even aware of any other female photographers working the 60s pop and rock circuit (though I'm sure there were plenty more, which I shall look forward to finding out).

Adams tells the story of the Twist and Shout 'Beatles on the wall' session on her website, where you can see the contact sheet for that photoshoot, as well as other wonderful 60s portraits (special interest for beatle fans are her photos and brief anecdote about working with the legendary psychedelic artists, and beatle faves, The Fool).

It's a great shame we don't know more about Adams (there isn't even a Wikipedia entry for her), though she is still very much alive and well and working in photography. Her April 1963 Twist and Shout image perfectly captured the vibrant and youthful spirit of the band about to change pop culture forever. Hopefully someone will rectify the Wikipedia situation soon and give her the recognition she deserves.


  1. Shame that's not coming to Scotland alright, would have been cool to see. Another great beatle-tastic read!

  2. Thanks Nessa! You are learning well, young one :-)

  3. LOVE your Beatles pictures! I am a huge fan! You hit the nail on the head when you said The Beatles are the best group-everything else is second best! Feel free to check up on my blog. :)