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NY1 looks back at the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first visit to the United States with this three-part series.

The Beatles: Yesterday and Today, Part 2: Photographer at Beatles' Ed Sullivan Performance Befriended the Band

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All this week, NY1 is commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first trip to New York and the United States. While 73 million people watched The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, a lucky few were in the theater, including photographer Henry Grossman, who soon forged a friendship with the band. NY1's Budd Mishkin filed the following report.

For photographer Henry Grossman, The Beatles' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 wasn't so much historic as convenient.

"My apartment was a block and a half from the theater where The Ed Sullivan Show was going to be broadcast," he says. "And so when I got the assignment from Time Magazine, it was just an easy walk down the street."

Grossman had free rein of the theater.

"I went up to the balcony and photographed them from the balcony, photographed the fans," he says. "I might have thought at the moment, though I don't recall thinking it, 'Why are they yelling? What's going on? Let's hear the music.'"

Musically, Grossman is an opera guy, once singing with the Metropolitan Opera. He didn't initially care for The Beatles' music, but the Beatles themselves?

"I liked the guys," he says. "The Beatles themselves were unusual, bright, sophisticated."

A friendship grew between the band and the photographer. In 1965, Ringo Starr shot the photo seen above of John, Paul, George and Henry.

"John just wanted to comb my hair to make me look like a Beatle 'cause I was spending my time with The Beatles," he says.

Grossman made a particular connection to George Harrison.

"I was at George's house outside of London one time, and we were talking, and he said to me, 'Henry, who knows how long this is going to last.'"

Grossman has photographed presidents and the powerful, a rich career on display at his website. The Beatles are part of that mosaic, a special part.

Mishkin: Is there a way to define why they were good subjects?
Grossman: They knew who they were. I didn't ask anything of them. They knew that I didn't want something from them.

"I was photographing so that the rest of the world could see what went on," Grossman adds. "I always took that as an unspoken mantra."

You can see some of Henry Grossman's photographs of The Beatles exhibited this week at Gallery 151 on West 18th Street in Chelsea.

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