When the Beatles landed in the U.S. for the first time, on February 7, 1964, American teens went wild. The editors of LIFE Magazine, taking notice of the phenomenon, quickly assigned photographers to cover the band's first American tour and television appearances.
A week into the tour, Bob Gomel was dispatched to photograph the “Fab Four” in Miami Beach, where they were scheduled to perform for a second night on The Ed Sullivan Show at the Deauville Hotel. But when the time came to photograph the band, the hotel was swarming with so many fans that a shoot would have been nearly impossible.
The shoot was moved to the private residence of Paul Pollak, a hotel owner, and his wife Jerri Pollak, a former big band recording artist. Away from the spotlight and overwhelming hoards of fans, Gomel was able to capture candid moments of the young lads relaxing and goofing around in the family pool and on the beach.
In the book Memories of John Lennon, edited by Yoko Ono, Gomel recalls the shoot:
After changing into matching bathing suits, four pale, skinny guys entered the pool. I asked them to just have fun. Ringo started a splash fight. John did a few cannonballs off the diving board. That captured moment became my favorite photograph. It hangs in my gallery today.
The Pollaks’ daughter Linda, who was 15 years old at the time, later wrote about what it was like to witness four of the most famous musicians in the world splashing around in her parents’ pool. “The photographers asked my three brothers and me to get into the pool first, so they could focus," she wrote in the Chicago Tribune in 1989. "Then the Beatles tiptoed in to take our positions ... They started splashing and goofing around, except John. He got out of the pool and sat in the back with his wife, Cynthia, just watching. Even then he wasn't much for publicity.”
The photos, which never made it to the pages of LIFE -- the editors instead ran a different swimming pool photo by LIFE staffer John Loengard -- capture the youthful exuberance of four young men as their careers were taking off and Beatlemania was taking hold. Long before the rifts that would lead to their breakup in 1970 and before fame took its toll, Gomel documented the rare moments of playful bliss of a band soaring rapidly to the top.
See more photos by Bob Gomel at the Monroe Gallery.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.