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Last Updated: Friday, 4 April, 2003, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Dylan and Beatles get intimate

By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Candid photographs of The Beatles and Bob Dylan in retreat from the pressures of fame have gone on show in the UK for the first time.

A delightful exhibition brings together the 1960s' most influential artists in a series of intimate portraits showing them relaxed and off-guard with loved ones and friends.

The Beatles are pictured in 1968 at an ashram in Rishikesh, India, where they had gone to meditate with their guru, the Mahirishi Mahesh Yogi.

Dylan is seen in the same era raising his young family away from the limelight at his rural hideaway in Woodstock, upstate New York.

Bob Dylan, Woodstock, New York, 1969 - the iconic Nashville Skyline album cover shot.
Picture by Elliott Landy, courtesy of Proud Galleries

The photographers, Paul Saltzman and Elliott Landy, were given unimpeded access to the two legendary rock acts - to the envy of the world's press.

The result is a heartwarming glimpse of private moments lived by the best-loved musicians of their generation - long before the paparazzi turned celebrity shoots into an everyday bore.

The portraits - many of them previously unseen - are on show at the Proud Central gallery in Buckingham Street, central London, until 7 June.

Bathed in sunlight, they reflect a mood of mellow optimism among their subjects and evoke the spirit of the age.

What unites them is a certain stillness and air of serenity - a contrast to the demands that had come with being among the most famous people on the planet.

The Beatles, sunburned and unshaven; in white cheesecloth and orange garlands; strumming their acoustic guitars and creating some of their most enduring music.

Dylan, the young dad; barefoot, playing with his children; smiling on the steps of his local bakery; bearded and bespectacled in the snow, his hands behind his back.

Dylan and wife Sara were raising their four children in rural Woodstock
Picture by Elliott Landy, courtesy of Proud Galleries

The exhibition is a riveting document of a time of great social change - and of two of its biggest catalysts.

By the time of these pictures, both had already helped to change the world and had experienced some of the fall-out of fame - be it personal burnout or emerging creative tension.

Yet they remained prolific and original in work, thought and outlook.

That period is crystallised here with an innocence that emerged from neither photographer seeking anything material from their subjects.

The Beatles photos are by Emmy-winning Canadian producer-director Paul Saltzman, 59.

Mr Saltzman left his native Toronto aged 23, heartbroken after his girlfriend left him, and headed to India seeking spiritual enlightenment.

John Lennon with wife Cynthia. He had already met Yoko Ono
Picture by Paul Saltzman, courtesy of Proud Galleries

He arrived in Rishikesh in February 1968 but found the Mahirishi's ashram closed because The Beatles and their entourage were inside.

Mr Saltzman slept in a tent outside for eight days until he was allowed in.

He was welcomed into a circle that included all four Beatles and their partners, the singer Donovan, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and actress Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence - immortalised in the White Album song Dear Prudence.

Mr Saltzman said: "There was no posing. I wasn't a photo-journalist and I didn't want anything from them.

"I'd never been a photographer before or since. I was just a kid with a camera.

"They were in an incredibly relaxed and at ease in a creative space - the historians say it was the single most creative capsule of time they ever spent."

Assorted Beatles, wives, lovers, friends with the Mahirishi
Picture by Paul Saltzman, courtesy of Proud Galleries

Amazingly, his pictures lay unpublished for 30 years until his daughter asked him about his meeting with the group.

The Dylan pictures are by celebrated New York rock photographer Elliott Landy, 60, who has photographed stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Janis Joplin and The Band.

Mr Landy met Dylan in Woodstock in 1968 after being asked to take his picture for a newspaper.

The pair struck up a rapport and Dylan invited Mr Landy to stay at his home - where he had gone to recuperate after a motorcycle crash two years earlier.

Mr Landy said: "I wasn't a Dylan fan, but I was a fan of him as a person.

"He was a very interesting man with a very unusual mind, and he really saw everything very clearly at that time.

"He just saw through people and through things. He just had a very insightful vision."

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