TIME Music

Lou Reed, Green Day, Joan Jett and More Join the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015

Reading Festival 2013 - Day 1
Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs on stage at the Reading Festival 2013 at Richfield Avenue on Aug. 23, 2013 in Reading, England. Joseph Okpako—Redferns/Getty Images

Sorry, N.W.A., Chic, The Smiths and Sting. Maybe next year!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced that its Class of 2015 will include Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and the late Lou Reed, whose band The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 by Patti Smith.

Other inductees for 2015 include first-time nominee Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble; “Lean on Me” singer Bill Withers, who hasn’t released new music in nearly three decades; The Paul Butterfield Blues Band; and Green Day, whose debut EP, 1,000 Hours, came out in 1989. They are entering the Rock Hall in their first year of eligibility.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is also honoring Ringo Starr this year; he will be given the Award For Musical Excellence. Starr — the former drummer for The Beatles who were inducted in 1988 — is the last of his bandmates to receive the honor. Also being inducted is 1950s R&B group the “5” Royales, who will receive the Early Influence Award.

Joan Jett has been eligible for the Rock Hall for years — and should have been inducted ages ago. Her nomination gained traction after she joined Nirvana on stage last year for a ferocious performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It has become tradition for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies to end with a massive cross-genre jam session between the inductees — one can only hope that this year they wrap the ceremony with all the artists playing their hearts out to Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll.”

Congratulations to this year’s inductees, and better luck next year to nominees The Smiths, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, The Spinners, The Marvellettes, Kraftwerk, Sting, War, and American disco outfit Chic, who have been nominated for the Rock Hall nine times since 2003. While many speculated that 2014 would be their year, thanks to the work of member Nile Rodgers with Daft Punk, the band has been overlooked yet again.

TIME Music

Why John Lennon’s Death Was the End of an Era

John Lennon cover
The Dec. 22, 1980, cover of TIME TIME

The killing, on Dec. 8, 1980, marked a major social shift

John Lennon’s death 34 years ago today triggered the same shock and outpouring of grief as the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy. So wrote critic Jay Cocks for his 1980 TIME cover story about the legacy of the late Beatle and his death by the hands of Mark David Chapman. The touching tribute — comments from Bruce Springsteen that are included in the piece may bring tears to your eyes — featured one memorable quote from Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono: “This is not the end of an era,” she said in the days after he was killed. “The ’80s are still going to be a beautiful time, and John believed it.”

But in his piece, Cocks makes the case for why Ono’s words were more wishful thinking than a truthful declaration.

The band had broken up a decade before, but Lennon’s death signaled a shift more serious than the Beatles’ dissolution ever did. After all, the music of the Beatles would be around indefinitely, whether or not the band continued to record together.

When Lennon died at age 40, however, everyone who had grown up with the Beatles was approaching middle age too. In addition to their sadness about Lennon’s death, they could not ignore their own mortality. “For everyone who cherished the sustaining myth of the Beatles,” Cocks wrote, “the murder was something else. It was an assassination, a ritual slaying of something that could hardly be named. Hope, perhaps; or idealism. Or time. Not only lost, but suddenly dislocated, fractured.”

There was an innocence and idealism to Beatles songs, Cocks explained, that stood in stark contrast to how Lennon died. Even kids could sense the loss: “I recognize the end of an era — my mom’s,” 16-year-old Gretchen Steininger told TIME. In the days after Lennon died, a Florida teenager and a 30-something man in Utah committed suicide and left notes behind that referenced depression over Lennon’s death.

Mark David Chapman is still alive. He’s now 59, and he’s been denied parole eight times — the most recent was August of this year — since he was imprisoned in 1981. (Ono has publicly campaigned against his release.) “At that time, I wasn’t thinking about anybody else, just me,” said Chapman, who can try again in 2016, at this year’s hearing. “But now, you know, obviously through people’s letters and through things I hear a lot of people were affected here. I am sorry for causing that type of pain. I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory.”

Read the full 1980 cover story about John Lennon, here in the TIME Vault: When the Music Died

Read next: Paul McCartney Thankful for Repaired Friendship Before John Lennon’s Death

TIME movies

‘Walter Mitty’ and the LIFE Magazine Covers That Never Were

Many of the classic LIFE magazine covers on display in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' were, in fact, never LIFE covers at all.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” James Thurber’s classic 1939 short story, is a tribute to the sometimes unsettling power of the human imagination. It’s also very, very funny and, alongside a number of other Thurber gems — “The Catbird Seat,” “The Night the Bed Fell,” “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” — remains an indispensable example of the uniquely American, mid-20th-century humor that found its highest expression in the pages of the New Yorker.

The most recent movie adaptation of the Mitty story stars Ben Stiller in the titular role as the archetypal nebbish who retreats into an intensely vivid fantasy world in times of stress. (The first film version of Mitty, starring Danny Kaye, was released in 1947.) In this rendition of the tale, Stiller plays a photo editor at LIFE magazine — still publishing, thanks to the magic of the movies, four decades after it shuttered in 1972 — and much of the film is set in the meticulously recreated offices of the storied weekly. In those offices, meanwhile, hang poster-sized versions of LIFE magazine covers through the years.

The covers are stirring, iconic — and, for the most part, they’re fake.

Or rather, the majority of the LIFE covers one sees in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were never covers at all. The pictures on the covers in this gallery, for example — the launch of Apollo 11; Jayne Mansfield luxuriating in a swimming pool; a theater audience watching the first-ever 3-D feature-length film — are, indisputably, classic LIFE images. But none of them ever graced the cover of LIFE magazine.

“When we were selecting photos for the LIFE covers in Walter Mitty,” says Jeff Mann, the production designer on the film, “we focused on pictures that would serve the story we were telling, but that would also capture the diversity of what LIFE covered in its prime. We worked really, really hard to select photos that were novel, naïve — in the best possible way — and that featured significant twentieth-century people, places and events.”

In the end, Mann says, he and his team — and Stiller, who is a photography aficionado — felt that the photos they chose to use as covers, from the literally millions of pictures in LIFE’s archive, had to somehow “convey the influence of LIFE magazine, while at the same time helping to move our story along. It was a fabulous problem, and one we had a lot of fun working to solve.”

Here, then, are a number of LIFE covers that never were — including several that, in light of how wonderful they look, perhaps should have been covers, after all.

[See all of LIFE’s galleries]

[Buy the book, 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE]

TIME Music

‘The Art of McCartney': The Making of a Massive Tribute Album

Sir Paul McCartney attends 2014 Women's Leadership Award Honoring Stella McCartney at Lincoln Center on Nov. 13, 2014 in New York City.
Sir Paul McCartney attends 2014 Women's Leadership Award Honoring Stella McCartney at Lincoln Center on Nov. 13, 2014 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris—Getty Images

McCartney covers LP may have the most impressive lineup ever

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Over the past two decades, producer Ralph Sall has assembled all-star albums honoring everything from Saturday-morning cartoon themes to the Grateful Dead. In 2003, he decided to embark on his biggest project yet: a massive Paul McCartney tribute record. “I never realized this would take me 10 years,” Sall says.

MORE: In Pics: The 12 Strangest Paul McCartney Songs

The Art of McCartney, a 42-track set out November 18th, took so long for a very good reason – nearly everyone Sall approached said yes. The album has one of the most impressive lineups of any tribute record ever: from Brian Wilson, who covered the 1982 deep cut “Wanderlust,” to Billy Joel (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), to Chrissie Hynde (“Let It Be”). The biggest coup of all: Bob Dylan, who rarely participates in these sorts of projects. Dylan chose to tackle “Things We Said Today.” “I was surprised he decided to take part,” says Sall. “That’s not the song I would have picked, but it sure fits him.”

MORE: Paul McCartney: The Long and Winding Q&A

Willie Nelson contributed a stark acoustic “Yesterday,” though it’s not his first time covering the song. “I recorded it when it first hit the market,” Nelson says. “I had a band in Fort Worth, and I told the audience, ‘Here’s a pretty good song I heard by a little country group called the Beatles.’ I just think McCartney is one of the best songwriters around.”

MORE: In Pics: Paul McCartney – A Life in Pictures

In most cases, Sall personally matched the song with the artist he wanted to cover it, and McCartney’s backing band – whom McCartney loaned Sall for the project – provided the backing. Sammy Hagar, who did “Birthday,” was stunned he was asked to participate. “I might have gone with ‘Let Me Roll It’ or ‘Maybe I’m Amazed,’ ” he says. “But ‘Birthday’ does fit my voice. Great guitar riff, too.”

MORE: In Pics: Behind Beatlemania: Intimate Photos of Paul McCartney

TIME Music

Watch The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus Cover The Beatles on Conan

Strange can be beautiful

The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus continued their campaign of weird on Conan last night with a performance of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne donned a floor-length metallic cape, from which Cyrus, two minutes in, emerged wearing a tinsel wig and googly eye-adorned bodysuit.

The Flaming Lips are promoting its recent album, With a Little Help from My Fwends, a tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band featuring guest appearances by Cyrus, My Morning Jacket and Moby, among others. All proceeds from album sales go to an Oklahoma City non-profit that assists low-income and elderly pet owners with veterinary costs and rescues abandoned pets.

The performance itself was a worthy cover, between Cyrus’ echoing, breathy interlude and just the right amount of intergalactic sound effects. The Flaming Lips are known for featuring extraterrestrial themes onstage, and this performance was no exception. It’s refreshing to see Cyrus get through a song without sticking her tongue out or twerking, and the oddball pair sounded quite lovely together.

TIME Music

Original Abbey Road Review: Record ‘Crammed With Musical Delights’

Abbey Road
The Beatles' Abbey Road album cover EMI

The album was released 45 years ago

Forty-five years ago, on Sept. 26, 1969, one of the most acclaimed rock albums in history was released: The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

And, unlike some cultural behemoths that take a while to sink in, the grandeur of the album was immediately recognized. As TIME noted in the Oct. 3, 1969, review of the record, there was something special going on:

“We were more together than we had been for a long time,” said John Lennon last week. “It’s lucky when you get all four feeling funky at the same time.” Lennon was talking about a recording session last summer that produced the latest Beatles record. Out this week, it is called Abbey Road, in honor of the group’s favorite studios in London. The disk proves lucky indeed — for listeners who like being disarmed by the world’s four most fortunate and famous music makers. Melodic, inventive, crammed with musical delights, Abbey Road is the best thing the Beatles have done since Sgt. Pepper (1967). Whereas that historic record stretched the ear and challenged the mind and imagination, Abbey Road is a return to the modest, pie-Pepper style of Rubber Soul and Revolver. It has a cheerful coherence — each song’s mood fits comfortably with every other — and a sense of wholeness clearly contrived as a revel in musical pleasure.

…The record’s unity is best illustrated by the tightly knit and unpretentious way it combines a variety of styles. Among them: old-line rock ‘n’ roll (Oh! Darling), low blues (I Want You), high camp (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), folk (Here Comes the Sun). Though the listener here and there finds such things as a vocal chorus or a swash of electronic sound, most of the time the instrumental textures are uncluttered by overdubbing. Rarely has John played better guitar than on I Want You (She’s So Heavy), a cunning combination of two songs with a chilling, mean blues throb. Rarely have Bassist Paul and Drummer Ringo achieved more cohesive yet flexible rhythm than on Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam.

And, despite a majority of songs bearing the familiar Lennon/McCartney credit, the album was also George Harrison’s time to shine. His song “Something” was already getting radio play, and the time he had recently spent with Bob Dylan was paying off. “This has helped him achieve a new confidence in his own musical personality,” the reviewer noted. “His three colleagues frankly think that Something is the best song in the album”

Read a 1969 story about the “Paul is dead” urban legend started by the Abbey Road album art, here in TIME’s archives: Of Rumor, Myth and a Beatle

TIME celebrity

Watch Paul McCartney Rap About Vegetarians

A promo for Meat-Free Mondays

Sir Paul McCartney is not only one of the most famous musicians in the world, but he is also one of the most famous vegetarians in the world. In a new video, McCartney melds those two passions together into a jingle to promote Meat-Free Mondays.

The Meat-Free Monday movement stems from the idea that cutting out animal products from the human diet — even just getting meat consumption down to one day a week — can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this clip released ahead of the UN climate summit on Tuesday, McCartney calls on politicians and the public to commit to a weekly meat-free day to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of eating meat.

At the end of the call to action, McCartney starts rapping the web address for the organization. It’s hard to tell whether the former Beatle intended to burst into song, or whether he’s just so musically inclined that he couldn’t help it. One thing is for sure, though, you won’t forget that web address anytime soon.

TIME celebrity

Watch Paul McCartney Help This Guy Propose to His Girlfriend

Who could say no?

When Paul McCartney noticed that one of his fans was standing next to her boyfriend at a concert in Rochester, New York, holding a sign that “He won’t marry me until he meets you” and the boyfriend with one that says “I have a ring. And I’m 64,” he knew just what to do.

In this charming video, McCartney brings the couple onstage and has them sing the Beatles hit “When I’m 64,” about not-so-young love, before successfully proposing. They have the perfect backing band for it.

TIME movies

Fifty Years Ago Today: The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night

Made in an amazing burst of creativity, The Fab Four's first movie, remains as revolutionary as ever, and as much fun

Before anyone saw the movie, its title promised something different from the ruck of cheapo rock ‘n roll films: A Hard Day’s WHAT? As producer Walter Shenson told it, he and director Richard Lester were nearly finished shooting their little picture with the Beatles but had no name for it. Then John Lennon told Shenson that Ringo Starr occasionally mutilated the English language in droll ways. Example: to suggest his exhaustion after an evening’s concertizing and partying, Ringo would say, “It’s been a hard day’s night.” Shenson told Lennon that he and Paul McCartney should write a song with that title, pronto. The next morning they delivered a catchy 12-bar blues riff with a soaring bridge, about a working stiff whose girlfriend makes all his toil worthwhile. Plaaaang!

That’s the sound of the song’s first, long guitar chord — a brash wakeup call to the audience. The film’s first shot is just as startling: three of the Liverpool lads running toward the camera down a narrow sidewalk, hemmed in by parked cars. The screams of pursuing Beatlemaniacs rises under the song’s first phrase, as George Harrison, in the foreground with John, trips and falls, Ringo collapsing over him. John looks back, his deadpan face breaking into a wide smile, and George gets up to carry on running away from their fans and into the Marylebone train station. Now all three are laughing, perhaps at the silliness of pop stardom, while the sacred words THE BEATLES briskly unfurl across the screen, followed by A HARD DAY’S NIGHT.

(FIND: A Hard Day’s Night on the all-TIME 100 Movies list)

Has any movie captured a moment in social, let alone musical, history with as much acuity and joy as A Hard Day’s Night? Directed by Richard Lester, then 32, and starring four musicians, the eldest of whom (Ringo) was 23, the film showed the world’s most famous foursome at that split second when they and their fans could enjoy their early apogee of superstardom. In the years until their 1970 breakup, the Beatles’ influence would broaden, their music become more sophisticated, their politics more complicated. But the world premiere of A Hard Day’s Night at London’s Pavilion Theatre on July 6, 1964 — 50 years ago today — marked the full flourish of Beatlemania on screen, in all its wit, musical bravado and, if we may say it about a canny rock band, innocence.

For the 50th anniversary, the film is showing in theaters in 100 U.S. cities, including Manhattan’s Film Forum. And the Criterion Collection has issued a 4K digital restoration of the film, which necessitated replacing missing parts of the original negative; and Giles Martin, whose father George produced most of the Beatles’ music, had to use a monaural mix of the movie’s closing song, “She Loves You,” for the stereo track. The result is a splendid tribute to this endearing, enduring film — which, when it opened here in August 1964, Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice called “the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals.”

(READ: Corliss’s tribute to legendary film critic Andrew Sarris)

Prescient and true: AHDT revolutionized pop musicals with the same thunder-clap force that Orson Welles brought to the Hollywood drama, and that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho infused into the horror film. A very local comedy with universal appeal, a daring blend of documentary and surrealism, Lester’s G-rated movie junked the tropes of traditional Hollywood musicals and instead found its muses in France: the avant-garde subversion of Luis Buñuel and Jean Vigo and the cinematic playfulness of New Wavers François Truffaut an Jean-Luc Godard. Lester punctuated the movie with swish pans, arc-light glares and an editing pace of controlled frenzy; he broke a thousand filmmaking rules and in the process established new ones that would reverberate decades later in music videos.

(In a making-of extra on the Criterion discs, the director says that “MTV gave me a very nice diploma … saying that I was the putative father of MTV.” He smiled and added, “But I’ve insisted on a blood test.”)

In the decade before AHDN, there were only two kinds of movies with pop stars. A hot star like Elvis Presley (and, in Britain, Cliff Richard) would be cast as a fictional character in an A-minus drama with music. (Frank Sinatra did the same in his ’40s films.) Or, down on the B-minus level, performers like Chuck Berry and Little Richard would play a couple songs as backup to a story of teen striving (as in the Alan Freed-hosted Rock Around the Clock and Mr. Rock ‘n Roll). The first kind of film tried to turn a pop sensation into fodder for the mainstream audience; that’s how Elvis got neutered in movies. The second kind used the artists as teen bait, then gave them only a few minutes on screen. The Beatles didn’t want any of that. AHDN was the first mainstream rock movie that seemed designed mainly to amuse its makers.

(READ: The Beatles Conquer America — 50 Years Later)

It all came together in a flash. In late 1963, Shenson, an American who had produced the 1959 Peter Sellers comedy hit The Mouse That Roared and its less successful sequel The Mouse on the Moon, agreed to produce a musical comedy starring the Beatles, who were just launching into the pop Britosphere. Shenson’s studio back home, United Artists, had no sybil’s foreknowledge of the band’s unique fame; it just wanted an album of new songs to promote, which would make back the film’s modest $500,000 investment.

Even after the Beatles conquered America on The Ed Sullivan Show and monopolized the pop charts like no recording artists before them, a UA executive asked that voice actors dub the Fab Four’s accents into a more intelligible mid-Atlantic patois. McCartney’s response: “Look, if we can understand a f–kin’ cowboy talking Texan, they can understand us talking Liverpool.”

Lester could understand Liverpool. A Philadelphian who had worked in live TV drama in his teens, he had come to London, embraced its comic quirkiness and adopted its accent; it was said he’d become so English that he wanted his surname spelled Leicester. He had directed the jazz musical It’s Trad, Dad and, for Shenson, Mouse on the Moon.

More important to the Beatles, who loved that long-running radio anarchy The Goon Show, Lester had helmed an 11-minute experimental comedy called The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film with Goons Sellers and Spike Milligan. (This short film’s outdoor shenanigans directly inspired surreal bits in AHDN like the Beatles running along outside the train they were just inside, as well as the “Can’t Buy Me Love” field frolic.) The four also approved of Alun Owen, the Liverpudlian writer of TV dramas, to pen the script.

(READ: Peter Sellers and The Goon Show)

The speed at which A Hard Day’s Night was conceived and born testifies both to UA’s original suspicion that the project would be a B-movie promo and to the industry and artistry its makers invested in it. Lennon and McCartney wrote about eight songs on a brief January holiday in Jamaica, leaving Lester and Owen to fit the songs somehow into a scenario about a day or two in the band’s hectic life. Shooting began Mar. 2 at Marylebone, climaxed late that month at the Scala Theatre where the band played for their fans and more or less finished on April 23, when Paul, George and Ringo cavorted on Thornsbury Playing Fields in Middlesex for the “Can’t Buy Me Love” segment. (John, at a signing for his book In His Own Write, was mostly absent from that larkishness.)

Shot in doc-style black-and-white, AHDN had a secret sibling film in What’s Happening: The Beatles in the U.S.A., shot during their first visit to America by the cinéma-vérité pioneers Albert and David Maysles. What’s Happening also depicts the Beatles routine: same dashing from train to limo to photo op to TV stage, the same release of tension on a dance-club floor, the same use of wit as armor against imprisonment and ennui — and the same amazing display of geniality by four blithe Liverpudlians. Also the same directorial nimbleness: the Maysles brothers learned of their assignment two hours before the Beatles’ plane landed at JFK airport on Feb. 7, 1964. Artists had faster reflexes then.

(READ: TIME’s 1964 review of the Lester and Maysles Beatles films)

AHDN didn’t open in the States until Aug. 11, more than a month after the London premiere, and for those of us who were young back then it was an essential votive experience. I remember seeing it at a movie house in suburban Philadelphia. I say seeing; hearing was out of the question, due to the shrieks of the band’s bobbysoxer brigade. The theater, I swear, was informally divided into quadrants, each inhabited by the attendant sisters of one band member: John in the lower left, Paul in the lower right, etc. A closeup of one Beatle would cue a communal wail from his quadrant. It was the sweetest form of pandemonium.

The Philadelphia girls, consciously nor not, were imitating the film’s climactic sequence, which intercuts shots of the band performing “She Loves You” with reaction shots from the young audience, and returns occasionally to girls mouthing the names of their particular heroes. The unforgettable one is a pretty blond undergoing a kind of anguished ecstasy. She is seen four times: first clutching her hair, then crying into her hand, then sobbing hand to head and finally, at the song’s last break (“You know you shou-ou-ou-ould…”) silently keening a desperate “George.” On one of the Criterion extras, we learn that editor John Jympson called this girl “the white rabbit.”

(READ: How The Beatles changed rock ‘n roll)

Ten years later, in Film Comment, I wrote my first Beatles nostalgia piece: “You probably have to be about my age — turning 30, and none too pleased about it — to look back nostalgically on a period as recent as 1964, and to smile crookedly when you think of A Hard Day’s Night. Most of us were the last stragglers of the ’50s… all we had were the private passions of movies and rock ‘n roll, which our teachers considered occasions of sin and not yet adventures in scholarship. With the Beatles, and specifically with A Hard Day’s Night, the unspeakable became acceptable. … A Hard Day’s Night today retains its vigor, its good humor, its Lancashire courtliness and easy grace. … We can also find in the film what we responded to then: its perfect distillation of a moment when, for a lot of us, it felt good to be young. … [Now,] we’ve aged, and it hasn’t.”

Another 40 years later, I have aged and the movie still hasn’t. Maybe the Beatles, perhaps even Lester and his team, didn’t know what they made, it soon became clear, was history — and did it with such good humor and blithe, unflappable grace. That’s a big reason for the unique then-and-now status of A Hard Day’s Night: it is both completely of its time and utterly forever.

TIME Behind the Picture

Photographer: My ‘Iconic’ Beatles Photo Is Actually Kind of Lame

It’s always illuminating to talk with photographers about their most celebrated pictures—especially if some of those photos have, over the years, taken on lives of their own. Example: John, Paul, George and Ringo in a swimming pool. For countless people, it’s the single most memorable photograph of the Beatles early in their career; four young, engaging, somewhat awkward English lads on the cusp of mega-stardom.

But for longtime LIFE photographer John Loengard—the man who took that picture in Miami Beach 50 years ago—the swimming-pool photo is, to put it bluntly, rather weak.

“I never thought it was a terrific photograph,” Loengard recently told LIFE.com. “It’s not a very expressive picture at all, in my opinion. But given the history and the appeal of the people in it, it keeps cropping up, year after year.”

As for how and why he took the picture in the first place, Loengard—who also served as LIFE’s picture editor from 1973 to 1987—explains that it was meant to be a cover photo, but instead ended up as a Miscellany, a popular feature that ran for years in black and white on the last page of the magazine.

“I went down to Florida to make this photo after being asked if I had any ideas on what to do with the Beatles as a cover,” Loengard recalls. “It was my idea to put them in a pool—but we couldn’t find a heated pool, the water in the pool we did use was cold, and there was always the problem of other press trying to get in. It would have to be a pool that we could close off to everyone else. So, in the end, it was a very quick shoot in a private pool, with the Beatles shivering and singing in the water before jumping out. My impression of these guys was that they were like four high school kids. You know, they had beards, sort of—like when you first start having to shave, but aren’t quite sure how to do it.

John Loengard's own, colorized version -- and LIFE cover mock-up -- of his famous 1964 Beatles picture.
John Loengard

“In the end, Hedley Donovan, who was LIFE’s editor-in-chief at the time and was sitting in for the managing editor, George Hunt, decided that the Beatles weren’t serious enough to be on the cover. He ran a color picture from the war in Cyprus on the cover that week, instead.”

But Loengard does admit that he might be warming to the photo, a little bit, as the years pass.

“Recently,” he says, “after coloring the photograph myself and playing around with it on my computer, I felt—for the first time, really—that Donovan made the wrong call. It could have been a strong cover, even if it’s not a great picture.”

Not many people realize that Loengard originally shot the picture in color, but the color transparency was lost soon after the Feb. 28, 1964, issue of LIFE appeared. (At left: Loengard’s own colorized version—and cover mock-up—of the photo.)

“Harry Benson, of course, took a remarkable picture of the Beatles around the same time,” Loengard says, seemingly eager to point out a Beatles photo that he feels warrants the attention it’s received over the decades. “The one where they’re having a pillow fight in a hotel room. That is a very, very well-made photograph.”

“My own Beatles photo,” he adds, without a trace of rancor or regret, “is a second-rate, or maybe even a third-rate, picture. And yet it still has legs.”

See more of John Loengard’s work at johnloengard.com

Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com

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