For many baby boomers, the legend of the Beatles seems everlasting, iconic. Yet, in reality, the group was together a relatively short period of time. The music of the Beatles helped shape our generation, remembered today by many boomers as it was more than four decades ago.
The date was August 22, 1969. The place was Tittenhurst Park, a 72-acre estate with a mansion outside London then owned by Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono. None of the Beatles realized it at the time but it would be their last photo session as a group, together.
The photo shoot was an instance of those bittersweet “unknown lasts” that wedge themselves between our lived experience and our memory, sometimes violently and other times with the tender wistfulness of nostalgia.
The cast of characters on that fateful August 22 – more than 45 years ago – included the Fab Four – Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – Yoko Ono, a pregnant Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney’s sheepdog Martha, and two donkeys Lennon and Ono kept on the property.
Drummer Ringo Starr would say later, “It was just a photo session. I wasn’t there thinking, ‘OK, this is the last photo session.’”
The now-historic occasion was captured on color and black & white film by photographers Ethan Russell and Monte Fresco.