Photographer Henry Grossman's Unique Eye on the Beatles

Shot Thousands of Pics of the Fab Four During Five-Year Run

Places He Remembers: Grossman captured this image of the Beatles with the Maharishi, their spiritual advisor.
© 2012 Henry Grossman
Places He Remembers: Grossman captured this image of the Beatles with the Maharishi, their spiritual advisor.

By Curt Schleier

Published March 06, 2013, issue of March 01, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Have you built a similar rapport with other subjects?

I spent two weeks in California, photographing Carol Burnett. When I left, she said, “When you come out here again, call me and we’ll have dinner.” I didn’t call her when I came back, because I didn’t think she meant it. I saw her again in New York, and I went over and asked if she remembered me. She said, “Yes, and I know you were in Los Angeles and didn’t call me.”

Did the fact that you were Jewish ever come up in your relationship with the Beatles?

Not at all.

The Beatles did explore religion, though, particularly Indian religions. Think of their relationship with the Maharishi, who became their spiritual adviser.

An interesting thing. I was in London once and went to George’s house, and there was this unusual instrument on the wall. I asked him what it was, and he took it down and said, “It’s a sitar. But I can’t find anyone in London who can teach me how to play it.” I told him, “You can afford to bring the best sitar player in the world to London to teach you.” Next time I see him, he greets me at the door barefoot and he looks at me and says, “Look what you started.” He’d gone to India to study [sitar] with Ravi Shankar, and that’s when he became interested in Indian culture.

On the subject of culture, can you tell me a little about your Jewish upbringing?

I grew up in New York, and my Jewish upbringing was going to shul with my father. I went to Hebrew school and I was a bar mitzvah in Philadelphia, where my uncle was a rabbi. I’m Jewish by culture. I know who I am. I know who my landsmen are.

Has your Jewish background affected your work?

[Chuckles] I’m laughing because there is one very obvious incident. After he resigned as vice president, I was in a taxi with Vice President [Spiro] Agnew. I was with a reporter, and we were going from a TV studio to his suite at the Waldorf-Astoria. He asked me if I play golf, and I said “No, Mr. Vice President.” He said, “Next time you come to Washington, we’ll play.” When we got to his suite, where I was going to take his portrait, I’m looking for my Rembrandt lighting, which is good for portraits, when the reporter asked him if he really believed in a Zionist conspiracy. When he said, “Yes, I do believe that,” I quietly put away the Rembrandts and put down low lighting and shot the rest of the portraits with what I call “evil lights.”

[In another instance] I was the official photographer for the Broadway play “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” I was taking pictures of the star, Kirk Douglas, and didn’t realize it was Yom Kippur. He looked at me and said, “What’s a nice Jewish boy like you taking pictures today?” When I realized what day it was, I shot back, “What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing working on Yom Kippur?”

Visit Henry Grossman at www.henrygrossman.com or at www.rockpaperphoto.com. “Places I Remember” is available at www.curvebender.com.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • J.J. Goldberg doesn't usually respond to his critics. But this time, he just had to make an exception.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.