Fiona Adams, the iconic classic rock photographer who documented the early days of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan, has died at 84. According to BBC News, her son Karl confirmed her death at a hospice on June 26th. She had been battling pancreatic cancer.
Adams’ photography career early on featured architectural work, as well as assignments related to travel, advertising, wildlife, and general news coverage. It was her pivot to pop culture photography, however, that resulted in Adams’ worldwide fame.
The Guernsey-born Adams captured numerous photos of the Fab Four, the most iconic of which — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr jumping in the air on a London bomb site — was shot for Boyfriend Magazine in April 1963. The photograph was later used on the sleeve of their Twist and Shout EP and went on to define The Beatles’ early look.
According to Adams’ website, The Beatles “readily agreed” to the photoshoot idea when she proposed it to them. Upon their agreement, she quickly hailed a taxi and brought the band to the desolate area near Euston railway station, which she’d scoped out prior to the shoot. “I climbed down the rubble into a bombed-out cellar, open to the sky, and had a wonderful session with the Beatles lined up on the wall above,” she wrote.
Adams photographed a number of other legendary artists like David Bowie, Nico, Cilla Black, Adam Faith, Sandy Shaw, and Dusty Springfield. Her work often graced pop culture publications of the era like Boyfriend and Fabulous. Later on, in 2009, some of her photos were included in “Beatles to Bowie”, an exhibition of 1960s photography at the National Portrait Gallery.
Adams spent her late career transitioning back to travel photography before she got married, had two children, and scaled back her shoots. Revisit some of her early images below.
RIP Fiona Adams. Here is a contact sheet of her groundbreaking 18 April 1963 shoot with the Beatles on Euston Road: London and four young men in the process of rapid change pic.twitter.com/WsIRJVU7TRAdvertisement
— Jon Savage (@JonSavage1966) July 10, 2020
RIP, Fiona Adams, who shot a defining Beatles photo. What looked like a Liverpool bombsite was really Euston Road in London, April 1963. She was 27, they 20–22. ‘I thought they were great,’ she recalled in 2005, ‘such fun and laughs.’ https://t.co/bXFugF4L4O pic.twitter.com/SSZVmHoHsv
— Mark Lewisohn (@marklewisohn) July 10, 2020
18 April 1963 Fiona Adams Photo session : Fiona Adams was the photographer who also took the cover photograph of The Beatles Twist and Shout EP.
— fab4_thebeatles (@fab4_thebeatles) May 3, 2020
RIP Fiona Adams. Took some iconic snaps in her time 📷 pic.twitter.com/rhDyNPxgEf
— lovepoint (@lovepointmusic) July 10, 2020
Fiona Adams. Bob Dylan, Savoy Hotel, London, 1965. Goodnight. pic.twitter.com/aGHOv3zPv2Advertisement
— TaffettaCrafts (@TaffettaCrafts) July 9, 2020
Jimi Hendrix photographed by Fiona Adams, 1967. pic.twitter.com/9d7IH5ycMo
— History Of Sound (@historyofsound) June 11, 2015
Photo of David BOWIE and MANDOLIN; posed, taken on Kingly Street, off @CarnabyLondon in summer 1963. Shoot for ‘Boyfriend’ magazine with a model who arrived with David by Fiona Adams pic.twitter.com/I0ZQTquLlq
— Nik D (@nikidoog) December 9, 2018
Nico on Carnaby Street, 1966Advertisement
This was a fashion shoot with Nico for Fab #208. In a Mary Quant look-a-like dress Nico appeared with Ben Carruthers as her male counterpart.
They looked great together.
Photo by Fiona Adams pic.twitter.com/6qaMDN0y4j
— Arthur David Spota (@ADASpota) February 4, 2019