See the Beatles’ First Tour Through Paul McCartney’s Lens

They are now a collector’s trove — Paul McCartney’s own photos, shot 60 years ago, when the Beatles took Europe and America by storm: images of screaming fans (one carrying a live monkey); a girl in a yellow bikini; airport workers playing air guitar, and unguarded moments grabbed from trains, planes and automobiles.

McCartney, now 81, doesn’t like to sit still and reminisce about the past, so he chatted while driving home from his recording studio in Sussex, England. ‘‘My American friends call these small, one-way lanes ‘gun barrels,’ ’’ he said, warning his interviewer that at any moment the signal might die (it did). In the end, it took two days to complete a coherent conversation about the breakthrough period when the Beatles went viral, captured in the traveling exhibition ‘‘Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-1964: Eyes of the Storm,’’ which features 250 of his shots. Currently it’s at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., and comes to the Brooklyn Museum May 3-August 18. (Don’t be surprised if the artist shows up for the opening.)

It was McCartney’s archivist, Sarah Brown, who found 1,000 photographs the musician had taken over 12 weeks — from Dec. 7, 1963, to Feb. 21, 1964, — in the artist’s library.

“I thought the photos were lost,’’ he said. ‘‘In the ’60s it was pretty easy. Often doors were left open. We’d invite fans in.” Even the recording studio wasn’t a safe space. “I was taking my daughter Mary to the British Library to show her where to research for her exams, and in one display case I saw the lyric sheet for ‘Yesterday,’” he said. A sticky fingered biographer had swiped the original from their studio.

Rosie Broadley, a senior curator at the National Portrait Gallery in London, where the show was inaugurated, said, “His photographs show us what it was like to look through his eyes while the Beatles conquered the world.’’

McCartney won an art prize at school and practiced photography with his brother, Mike (who later became a professional photographer). He graduated to a 35 mm SLR Pentax camera when the Beatles hit it big.

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