The 64-year-old photographer says he has plenty of pictures of “our kid” — a Liverpudlian reference to one’s sibling. But Mike McCartney goes on to explain that the photographic exhibit of life in his native Liverpool during the 1960s, which opens June 26 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, is actually the result of a Beatles fan’s request to see something other than his images of the Fab Four.
“They were such a big group, so important in the world, that as soon as you put a Beatles image in an exhibition, that’s the only one people concentrate on,” he says during a phone call from his Liverpool home. “The idea ofnothaving a Beatles image in it was a fascinating experiment.”
Among the most captivating are the family photographs — pictures of father James at the piano and posing with a couple of pretty young women at a house party; a framed portrait of mother Mary, who died when McCartney was 12, propped up in front of her grandmother clock; Uncle Albert (immortalized in the Wings song “Let ’Em In”) and Aunty Milly asleep on the couch.
“They look so peaceful,” McCartney says when asked about his penchant for capturing subjects — including Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash (while he was still with the Hollies) — in mid-snooze. “And they can’t complain.”
Not all of the photographs are perfect. Ask McCartney how his work has evolved over the last four decades, and he quips, “I take less crap.” But Nash, an accomplished photographer in his own right, points out that even the mistakes are worth a look.
“I’m glad that he didn’t throw something out because it was slightly off kilter or slightly out of focus,” he says. “His stuff has this naiveté about it that puts you actually right there, at that moment."