Beatlemania: Seattle Style

Aug 20, 2014

August 21, 1964.

That's the day the Beatles came to Seattle for the very first time.

The Fab Four played 12 songs — 29 minutes total — at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Despite the concert's brevity, by all accounts the 14,000 fans in attendance went wild.

Many historians, photographers and journalists have chronicled Beatlemania, the hysteria that greeted these four young musicians on their first American tour. But nine photographs now on view at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry show the concert from a different perspective.

The photos were shot by a 19-year-old Seattleite named Timothy Eagan. The teenager got into the show on a press credentials for a local Teamsters' publication. Eagan pushed his way to the foot of the stage where he shot close ups of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Eagan, who went on to a professional photography career that included a stint at the Seattle Post Intelligencer, died in 1993. His New York agents held most of the work he left behind, including three rolls' worth of negatives from this Beatles concert. Timothy's brother Michael acquired the work and eventually donated it to MOHAI.

MOHAI photography curator Howard Giske was thrilled to receive the Egan collection. Given the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' Seattle concert, Giske says he's really excited to present a unique window onto this particular slice of local history.

"A lot of the photographers were working the crowd up behind and covering that angle," Giske explains. Timothy Eagan got up close for his shots. "So far the only ones anyone's really discovered from that vantage point."

Unlike many archives, MOHAI accepts and stores the actual film negatives, as well as printed photographs. Giske considers the film itself a hands-on historical record.

For this pop-up exhibition, he printed only a fraction of the 80-plus images Eagan took. "There's enough for a whole other show!" he jokes. Some of the other images are available online at MOHAI's website, along with transcripts of interviews of people who attended that Beatles' concert.

The photographs of the Beatles performing in Seattle in 1964 will be in MOHAI's Grand Atrium through Labor Day, Monday, September 1, 2014.

The Beatles perform "Twist and Shout" live, November 4, 1963, for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother