A rare Beatles photograph signed by John, Paul, George and Ringo 58 years ago for a teenage fan is coming up for auction in Staffordshire.
Sutton Coldfield grandmother Monica Hayes remembers her mother surprising her with the autograph, signed during a break in filming at a Birmingham television studio.
The photo will go under the hammer as Lot 372 in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Antiques & Homes Sale on Monday, April 12, live online from the Lichfield Auction Centre. It is estimated to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000.
Monica’s mother, Norah Sargent, was working in the canteen at the ATV/ABC Alpha television studios in Aston, Birmingham, when The Beatles went to grab a bite to eat between filming for a show. Seeing the band standing there and knowing her daughter was a big fan, Norah seized her chance and asked them for autographs.
A publicity photo was produced – either by an assistant or a member of the band themselves – and John, Paul, George and Ringo all signed it in front of her there and then.
Monica, now 74, said: “I was in bed when she got home and she just came in, showed me the signed photo and said it was for me.
“Our family had a saying in the house – ‘honest to God’. If you said ‘honest to God’ it had to mean you were telling the truth.
“So I spent a long time saying to mum ‘say honest to God, say honest to God!’ because I just couldn’t believe all four Beatles had signed a photo for me.”
The photograph shows the band wearing their trademark matching 1963 collarless suits, based on a Pierre Cardin design reproduced by Beatle tailor Dougie Millings. It’s a style specific to the year in which The Beatles released their debut LP Please Please Me and second album With The Beatles.
Norah loved working at the Aston studio, accepting free tickets when she could and taking the opportunity of mingling with stars of the day to ask for signatures for her younger daughter Anne’s school autograph book. But Norah knew Monica was the big Beatles fan.
Monica, who had two daughters and three grandsons with her late husband Anthony, to whom she was married for 49 years, added: “The Rolling Stones never appealed to me at all. I liked the look of The Beatles and I was also a fan of Rod Stewart, Tom Jones and Elvis.
“I must admit I don’t listen to The Beatles anymore – but I still love Tom Jones and Rod Stewart.”
Lichfield auctioneer Richard Winterton, said: “As well as truly being toppermost of the poppermost and dominating the charts in 1963, it was becoming increasingly apparent that The Beatles were more than a simple teen sensation.
“Later in the year they appeared on Sunday Night At The London Palladium in front of a TV audience of 15,000,000 viewers, gave the landmark Royal Command Performance and Lennon and McCartney were dubbed ‘the outstanding English composers of 1963’ by The Times’ music critic William Mann.
“Beatlemania was well and truly underway and to have a photograph with such impeccable provenance signed by all four members during this pivotal year is fab indeed!
“They were just consolidating their position as the UK’s premier band and in the midst of that maelstrom were only too happy to sign a photo to delight a young fan.
“A few months later at the start of 1964 they went to America – by which point those collarless suits had been relegated – and embarked on the next leg of the journey to global superstardom.”