Courtesy the Bob Bonis Archive
One fun fact about Minnesota is that we were the only stop on the Beatles' 1965 American tour that didn't sell out. Held at the Met Stadium, where the Mall of America exists today, the show was undersold in part due to fears concerning the hullabaloo the band could potentially inspire. For many years it was thought that no photographs existed of the concert (other than shots that were taken from very far away). However, newly discovered photographs by Bob Bonis, the group's American tour manager, will be shown at an exhibition in the lobby of the W Hotel with an opening event this Thursday. The exhibition arrives just in time for Sir Paul McCartney's show at Target Field on August 2.
According to Kurt Benjamin, one of the owners of the collection, Bonis was the tour manager for both the Rolling Stones and the Beatles during the British Invasion of the 1960s. In addition to being a manager, Bonis also was a passionate photographer, and carried around a Leica M3 wherever he went. During the three-year period he was working with the Beatles, Bonis became close with the band members, taking photographs along the way. Though the Beatles had their own for-hire photographers, Bonis "would grab his own photos," Benjamin says. "He was just an artist in that way."
For years, Bonis kept his old photographs in his basement, never seeking to do anything with them. He died in 1992. After his wife died 14 years later, his son Alex reconnected with the images along with Bonis's other archives. He brought them to Larry Marion, a consultant in the memorabilia world who is partners with Benjamin. "It's an important find for rock-photography history," Benjamin says.
Image courtesy of Bob Bonis Archive
Among Bonis's collection were the only photographs taken of the Met Stadium show, a fact that Benjamin says they discovered about seven months ago. Bonis's photographs include 32 up-close images of the Beatles playing the concert.
It was the only show the Beatles every played where no one was allowed to photograph, Benjamin says. That was in part due to show promoter Ray Colihan, a.k.a. Big Reggie, who ran Danceland, a venue in Excelsior. According to Benjamin, Colihan was concerned that there would be chaos at the concert, a fear sparked by an incident at the airport when 3,000 fans mobbed the Beatles, and one woman grabbed Ringo by his leg. Colihan decided to underpromote the show, and decreed that if anyone stepped one foot on the field, the concert would abruptly end. "Even police weren't allowed on the field," Benjamin says.
Bonis's photographs were taken both 10-feet away from the stage and at times on the stage. Each of the 32 photographs are now being released as limited editions, and will be on display in the historic lobby arcade of W Minneapolis-The Foshay
IF YOU GO:
"The Beatles in MN"
W Minneapolis-The Foshay
Thursday, July 24 through August 3
Thursday's free opening event, from 5 to 8 p.m., will include cocktails and bites, as well as DJ music by Lenka Paris.
To attend the opening event, you must RSVP today to WMPLS@hansonpr.com.
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