This article is authored by CHRIS BARTH of ROLLING STONE

More than 45 years after THE BEATLES first hit American soil, photos from their 1964 inaugural North American tour have arrived at New York’s MORRISON HOTEL GALLERY.

The snapshots, by late photographer Curt Gunther, reveal the band in lighthearted situations — riding horses, goofing off with manager Brian Epstein — and capture the fervour of young fans during the British Invasion. It’s a candid look at a band on the rise. But the photos almost didn’t see the light of day.

You can see some of them here

Steve Gunther was entrusted with his father’s 35mm Tri X negatives over 25 years ago with the lone instructions: “Fix these.”

The task of separating the negatives was an arduous one that took him nearly two months to complete. But his attention was divided between restoring his father’s work and his own photography.

“[The negatives] had been sitting in my Halliburton briefcase in my closet for years and years and years,” he admitted somewhat sheepishly.

It wasn’t until he connected with PETER BLACHLEY, cofounder of THE MORRISON HOTEL GALLERY (so called because another cofounder HENRY DILTZ photographed the cover of THE DOORS album of the same name), that STEVE GUNTHER decided to exhibit the photos.

“I had seen Curt’s work in the book Mania Days and I was blown away by the photographs,” commented Peter Blachley.

“I knew about this archive for quite some time.”

The photographs capture THE FAB FOUR from an intimate viewpoint, indicative of the relationship Curt Gunther established with the band while on tour.

“I think there was real, genuine affection between The Beatles and my dad,” Steve Gunther stated.

“He was there on every plane ride and in every hotel room.”

It was a coup of sorts to even photograph the band on tour — CURT GUNTHER’S involvement came only at the last minute urging of THE BEATLES’ press officer DEREK TAYLOR…and against the wishes of BRIAN EPSTEIN.

Even after joining the group’s entourage, Curt Gunther was unpaid, finding himself scraping by with a band not yet aware of the enormity of their following.

“As the folklore goes,” said Steve Gunther, “he made that month’s salary by playing poker every night and beating The Beatles. It wasn’t Meet The Beatles,” he added with a smile, “it was Beat The Beatles.”

Peter Blachley said that the collection proves that Curt had become part of the team.

“You can see it in the photographs. There were no handlers. Just, ‘Hang out, you’re one of the band now.’

That proximity shows in the shots, which catch JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE and RINGO both on and off stage.

In one of the more stirring images, JOHN LENNON lies on a hotel bed, dressed in a striped shirt and hat and looking into the lens.

In another, JOHN and GEORGE strum guitars face to face in a backstage shower, seemingly mid conversation. The shots are a connection to a more innocent time, the work of an unrestricted photographer admiring other artists and friends.

“I think there is the same sort of passion that’s found in the photography that’s found in the music,” Peter Blachley remarked.

“People see the photograph and it relates back to them in that kind of a way. They want to preserve what you see in these photographs and feel that emotional connection to what these photographs represent in their lives.”

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