The Beatles — from left, George, John and Ringo — onstage at the Baltimore Civic Center, Sept. 13, 1964. (Photo by Morton Tadder, copyright 2014, Tadder/Baltimore)
The Beatles conquered New York 50 years ago this weekend, when they landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport en route to a record-setting performance (at least in terms of viewers) on CBS’s “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
It took them a few more months to conquer Baltimore.
But conquer it they did, when, on Sept. 13, 1964, in the midst of their second tour of the U.S., the four mop tops from Liverpool — “mop tops”? Ah, nicknames were so quaint back then — played two shows at the Civic Center (known nowadays as the Baltimore Arena).
A few thousand screaming fans heard John, Paul, George and Ringo play. But we use the term “heard” loosely. Most people who were there admit that the screaming was so loud, they really couldn’t hear much else.
Morton Tadder was there, and at 36, he may have been one of the oldest people in the building. But Tadder wasn’t there as a fan. He was a photographer, and he was being paid to shoot some pictures and send the undeveloped film overseas for processing.
“I knew they were coming – I think I caught them on ‘Ed Sullivan,’” Tadder, now 85, remembers. He contacted a New York service that provided photos for British newspapers and magazines and asked if they were interested in some photos from Baltimore. They were, he remembers, but not that much. Only shoot one roll of film, Tadder remembers being told.
Ringo Starr, at the post-concert press conference. (Photo by Morton Tadder/copyright 2014, Tadder/Baltimore)
Fortunately, Tadder didn’t listen. He ended up shooting about a dozen rolls, and not just of the concert. He started shooting The Beatles while they were staying at the Holiday Inn up the street, followed them down to the Civic Center for the show – he stood atop a handy ladder he’d brought along, to get a better vantage point – and finished by snapping some pictures at a post-concert press conference.
Tadder says he mailed one roll of film to London; he imagines at least some of his photos must have appeared in the press somewhere, but isn’t positive. The rest of the film he developed and kept for himself. And except for an exhibition at the Maryland Historical Society 10 years ago, they’ve remained largely unseen.
Tadder, who spent decades as the official photographer for the Orioles, is hoping to put a selection of his Beatles photos together in a book, to be published later this summer – in time for the 50th anniversary of the Civic Center show. In the meantime, he’s letting us show a few pictures from the day The Beatles conquered Baltimore.
Just don’t ask Tadder what he thought of the show. To be honest, he says, it didn’t make much of an impression on him. “I’m one of those people, once you get out of Frank Sinatra, I don’t know who you are,” he says.