Ringo Starr reunites with mystery Beatles fans from photograph
It's a story 49 years in the making: Six New Jersey teens skipped school to see the Beatles arrive in the United States in 1964 and ended up immortalized by budding photographer Ringo Starr.
This past weekend, the five surviving Beatles fans finally got the chance to meet Starr in Las Vegas after revealing their identities in October.
"I never knew that you were such a gifted photographer," chuckled Arlene Norbe.
"That's a lucky shot ... don't tell anyone," joked Starr of the photo.
Norbe, along with Gary Van Deursen, Suzanne Rayot, Charlie Schwartz and Bob Toth met the former Beatle, who was having an exhibit of his photography (chronicled in his new book "Photograph"), and saw him play live with his All Starr Band. (The missing member of the sextet was Matt Blender, who passed away in 2011.)
It all began when the then teens, hoping to get a glimpse of their musical heroes, drove along a motorcade. (Van Deursen told TODAY in October that he thought they were driving past a funeral at first, then quickly realized the members of the Beatles were in those cars.) Starr rolled down his window and stuck out his camera for a quick, candid shot.
For years no one identified the occupants of the car — and the mystery was solved only after an article in USA Today sparked a nationwide search. The gang surfaced and sat down for an interview on TODAY, and finally everything came together in Vegas.
"That photo became much bigger than I thought it ever would," said Starr. "I mean, I just put it in the book because it's a great shot and then, suddenly in America, everyone was trying to find them!"
For years, the gang knew they'd met Starr, who also spoke with them briefly as they peeped from their car, but they never knew the photograph was of any consequence. Now, after all this time, the story has come full circle.
Or has it? Van Deursen disagrees with that idea. "I don't want to say it's full circle, because that's like you're getting to the end of something. It's a journey that we're still going on."