Beatles Photos Rediscovered In Time For 50th Anniversary of First DC Concert

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- When Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr play the Grammys Sunday night, it will transport a lot of us back to a watershed time in America when everything seemed possible.

It takes Mike Mitchell back to the magic moment 50 years ago when he stood on the stage with a camera as the Beatles' performed in DC, their very first concert in the United States.

He only recently rediscovered his incredible photographs.

The music exerted an almost mystical pull on a lot of us, including Mitchell as a teen growing up in Oxon Hill listening for the first time to "I Want To Hold Your Hand." All of a sudden, I'm no longer in a '55 Chevy. I'm in a yellow convertible driving in the fast lane of my life toward a future of endless possibilities.

Mike Mitchell was a budding freelance photographer, when he heard the Beatles would play their first gig in the now decrepit DC Coliseum. "Magic things happened for me in this room for me," he says, the frost condensing from his breath in the freezing coliseum this past week..

Mitchell wrangled a press pass. But when he go there, he had no flash, so he took a series of moody, intimate photos with available light off four guys on the brink of superstardom.

When he climbed on stage, he says "All of a sudden, lights come on, huge dawn of the world lights."

Mike Mitchell is working on a book, and still trying to put into words how that concert, the concert here, changed the world for him and for his generation.

"The sound was echoing off the ceiling, it had a quality that I'd never seen before."

The now defunct magazine that hired him published just a few of the shots… in a story that made fun of the Beatles as a fad. Mitchell tucked the treasures away in a file box, where they remained hidden for decades…

Until the photographer who had gone on to fame and fortune fell on desperate hard times. "It was as if these pictures were not meant to be seen now…."

The shot of the Beatles haloed against the light sold for 68-thousand dollars at auction… all told they garnered 362-thousand dollars for a guy who had lost his home and was living in a friends dark basement.

So when they stage a tribute concert here for the 50th anniversary of that incredible show…. Mitchell will be there with his photos on display. "I'm looking forward to the 100th actually, I want to be here for the 100th."

The music never dies.

Organizers are staging that tribute concert on February 11th at the DC Coliseum. Tickets are available at


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