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Now These Days Are Gone

'Help!' The Beatles Photography by Michael Peto

Michael Peto

'The many rolls Peto shot of The Beatles relaxing during breaks in filming Help! in 1965 did not even make it to picture editors' desks. The world can now see what the newspapers missed... Now These Days Are Gone by Genesis Publications.' The Independent

When photojournalist Michael Peto died in 1970, he left the University of Dundee an incredible 130,000 prints and negatives. In 2004, while archiving the work, the University found an astonishing collection – hundreds of photographs taken during the making of The Beatles' second feature film, Help!

In 1965, Michael Peto had been working for The Observer Sunday newspaper – then the UK's most prestigious publication for photojournalists. His position ensured considerable access to The Beatles over the course of a year. This book presents his Beatles collection in full. Published exclusively, a leather-bound volume of nearly 300 rare photographs of the The Beatles.

'Completely engrossing... a virtual museum of nostalgic photography contained within gilded pages.' Goldmine

'Fabulous photographs... The pictures show the group off-guard and behind the scenes at a time when most photographers only had access to them at carefully managed photo-calls.' Liverpool Daily Post

'Now These Days Are Gone evokes intimacy… You almost expect McCartney to start singing.' The Herald

NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE. A book of nearly 300 rare and unpublished images of The Beatles taken by photojournalist Michael Peto during the making of Help!

When Michael died in 1970 he left the University of Dundee an incredible collection of 130,000 prints and negatives. In 2004, while archiving the collection, the University found photographs of the most influential band in history, none of which had ever been published before.

All of the photographs are from 1965; a pivotal year for The Beatles as they transformed from the lovable mop-tops into the icons for which they would be renowned with the release of 'Rubber Soul.'
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The Photography

Now These Days Are Gone

Michael Peto's photos capture The Beatles on the set of Help! at Twickenham Studios on Salisbury Plain, enjoying dinner at their Salisbury hotel, relaxing over tea and biscuits with their Help! co-stars, in the recording studio, and facing press the day their MBEs were announced to the world.

Some of the most remarkable images are those of Ringo, his former wife Maureen and their dog Tiger, taken at their home in Montagu Square, London, while Maureen was heavily pregnant with the couple's first son (Zak Starkey).

Maureen was a Cavern regular who'd met Ringo when he was with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. The pair shared a mutual interest in hairdressing: Maureen was already working in a salon in Liverpool, and Ringo harboured dreams of opening a string of them if The Beatles' success supplied him with the finance.

George and John share bench space at the entrance to Twickenham Studios' viewing theatre, Friday, April 30, 1965. Twickenham, a slightly antiquated patch of Middlesex, became 'Beatles film central' during the Sixties, its inconspicuous location at the end of a row of terrace houses adding to its charm.

Ringo: 'Every day when there's a break in filming you get a chance to see rushes of the scenes they shot the day before.'
Paul: 'And that's hilarious because you get to see all the bits of the film where somebody mucked things up by laughing and forgetting their lines.'

Wherever The Beatles went, their travelling caravan - both musical and creative - was never far behind. Producer George Martin's presence was often a reliable sounding board for McCartney's compositions in the making.

Within the congested highway of success during 1965, without doubt the musical pinnacle for Paul McCartney was Yesterday. According to McCartney it started as a dream. It began to take shape during the filming of Help! but was too late to be considered for the film's soundtrack, although just where it could have been placed among the mayhem on screen is anybody's guess.

This is where things started to get complicated. One scene in Help! found the boys cavorting around 'Buckingham Palace'. Despite the fact the group was soon to be embraced by Royalty in the Queen's birthday honours list, there was not a whelk's chance in a supernova of them using the property to film in.

Instead Cliveden House - the 19th century stately home based just outside London, and still humming from the romps of the Profumo scandal - was used as a 'double'. Still, some scenes couldn't be done without causing serious damage to the building, so the set designers at Twickenham erected a mock 'palace' of their own.

Whereas A Hard Day's Night was universally received as a great movie, Help! palled to some degree because the immediacy and frenetic nature of Beatlemania was absent for most of the picture. But the making of the film was nonetheless a joyous time for cast and crew, and even for the embattled director on occasions.

Richard Lester: 'They knew themselves. They didn't often remember to bring their scripts with them: they got left in other people's cars or taxis or nightclubs. But apart from that technical problem they were very relaxed about what they were doing.'

The day of the MBE announcement, The Beatles were due at Twickenham to view a rough cut of Help! Lennon, fighting his conscience over the award, decided to make his own tacit protestation by lying in bed.

The clock ticking, an irate Brian Epstein personally arrived at Lennon's Weybridge manor to retrieve the errant Beatle so he could make the necessary noises to the press, albeit 40 minutes late, hair still a mess.

The Beatles' imminent investiture dominated the media's attention. As was becoming the norm, The Beatles had managed to stir a sleeping nation and re-invent themselves yet again in the process: from working-class heroes to society darlings, their metamorphosis was occuring on almost a daily basis.

John: 'I enjoyed filming it, you know. I'm sort of satisfied with it, but I'm not smug about it. It'll do... Because we're not capable actors to make it any better than that.'

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The Manuscript

Now These Days Are Gone

1965 was an incredibly important year for The Beatles. That summer Help! was not only the band's last feature film, it was their last stand as lovable mop-tops. In October they would record Rubber Soul and begin a period of unprecedented musical and lyrical innovation that would change the face of popular music forever. It was the year The Beatles evolved from mere pop stars into the most important band in history, icons of the age.

Above: Run for your life. The Beatles hotfoot it through long grass to the scripted safety of a haystack.

It was also midway through a decade of incredible social and cultural change. If, in Britain at least, The Beatles came to reflect and embody such change, their popularity was also a result of it. As such, also included in NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE are examples of Michael Peto's further work as a photojournalist, rooting the lives of The Beatles in the everyday world of the Sixties, of fishmongers, steel-workers and dockers.

Above: Ringo and Maureen's marriage was the first of a Beatle in the glare of Beatlemania. With one eye on dressing their new London flat in Montagu Square, Brian Epstein gave them a dinner service, while Paul McCartney brought them an exquisite silver apple from Tunisia.

Renowned music journalist Paolo Hewitt contributes an essay reflecting on the pivotal importance of 1965 in Beatle history, while Professor Jim Tomlinson of the Univeristy of Dundee provides deeper insight into the historical context of The Beatles' success.

Acclaimed photographer Colin Jones writes the book's Foreword. Michael Peto met Colin when the latter was a dancer with the Royal Ballet. He showed Colin's photos to The Observer's picture editor, and soon Colin's career on Fleet Street was underway.

Above: Outside Twickenham studios.

Above: A much-needed cuppa and a cigarette with director Richard Lester and aide Neil Aspinall, while Paul receives his mail.

The Antrobus Arms

During their stay the group was ensconced in a series of rooms on the top floor of the hotel. On the occasions they did venture into the bar and lounge area, they were largely untroubled: curious onlookers and Beatlemaniacs were definitely personae non gratae.

Despite being a modest hotel, The Antrobus Arms had a grand restaurant, sporting an etched peacock fantail window, and a view overlooking a garden adorned with statues.

The group's 1965 groundbreaking album Rubber Soul confirmed that The Beatles were now drawing deeply from their own experiences and observations rather than just languishing in formulaic - if wholly successful - writing. Lennon was at last reaching deep into his subconscious to produce his most striking work to date and, as if in competitive defiance, McCartney too was producing stunning material and lyrics to match. The Beatles were storming Nirvana, bringing back a message of deeply profound and wry observations on the mystery of living. The following year the pedestrian semantics of 'She Loves You' had finally run its course.

There were several attempts on the life of dear Ringo during Help! Aside from being bitten by a sandwich, a post box and a vicious 'Speak Your Weight' machine, the drummer also had to dodge the odd chainsaw and machete.

For yet another attempted assault on his finger, Twickenham's chippies put together a mock toilet cubicle, replete with a hand-drier primed to suck the ring off the drummer's hand. A set-dresser with a watering can is on hand, presumably ready to muck in if Paul's eventual soaking from a broken sink is deemed insufficiently wet.


Once the photographers got their way, the boys were turned over to the legions of news crews who wanted some first-hand reactions captured on film. Lennon was particularly amusing and, still jet-lagged from his late arousal, was able to offer some characteristically witty deliveries.
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The Author

Now These Days Are Gone

Colin Jones gives us an insight into Michael Peto in his Foreword:

'He would tell me such things as, 'Do not look at photography for inspiration, If you get stuck, cool off in art gallery.' 'Take pictures with your brain, not your eyes.' 'A good photograph is the one you can walk around like a piece of sculpture.' I now realise, many years later, that he was using photography as art. Michael was never interested in the competitive side of photography, winning awards or joining prestigious agencies: he absolutely hated all that.

'The Beatles photographs were never used. Michael had obviously spent quite a bit of time with the band, but as subject matter it certainly wasn't his forte. He got great portraits though because he was always very polite, very gentle and he would flatter people. He also knew when to leave, which is a skill many photographers don't have. I know that he would be surprised to see this book of his Beatles photographs. Let's hope that one day the world will see some of his greatest photographs that meant so much to him.'
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The Collector Edition

Now These Days Are Gone

NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE is a limited edition of just 2,500 copies.

Copies numbered 351-2,500 are Collector copies and bound in quarter leather and Assuan canvas. They feature gold-blocking on the spine and front board, and are housed in a red slipcase inset with four portraits of The Beatles.

NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE contains 256 pages (315mm x 268mm), printed and hand-bound in Milan on 200gsm matt-art paper. The photographs are reproduced in duotone with image varnishing and the text is printed in three separate inks.

Every copy in the edition is signed by the Principle and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Sir Alan Langlands.

Now These Days Are Gone

'Help!' The Beatles Photography by Michael Peto

Select from the following editions:

Now These Days Are Gone

Now These Days Are Gone

  • ISBN:
  • Collector:
    2150 copies
  • Signed by:
    Sir Alan Langlands
  • Contributors:
    The University of Dundee, Paolo Hewitt, Colin Jones
  • Paper:
    200gsm matt art paper
Collector £295

While The Beatles were shooting their second feature film, Help! Michael Peto was working for The Observer Sunday newspaper – then the UK's most prestigious publication for photojournalists. His position ensured access to The Beatles over the course of a year. The new limited edition book NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE features nearly 300 pictures of The Beatles that have never been published before.

  • Page size: 268mm x 315mm
  • 256 pages
  • 250 images
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