Monday, January 15, 2018

Remembering Paul Goresh





It is with much sadness that I share that Beatles fan and John Lennon photographer, Paul Goresh passed away after a long illness on January 9, 2018.   

The post I did about Paul in the early years of this blog remains the most popular post on the entire blog and currently is getting even more hits.    There is something about this man that interests us so much.   Who was he?   Why did he take photographs of John Lennon?   Why was he outside of the Dakota on the night John was killed?

Since first posting about him in 2010, I became friends with him on Facebook and found Paul to be a very nice, humble man.   He was happy to share some of the photos of John that he had taken to be on this blog, but told me that he had over 200 photographs of John that no one has ever seen, including the very last photo of John ever taken.   Paul snapped one more shot of John in the car as he and Yoko were leaving in the studio.    I still hope that we will see a least some of those photos.

So how did this regular fan get to meet John Lennon?   It is a pretty wild story -- but no wilder than any of the stories that included crazy things fans did to meet the Beatles.     On February 12, 1979 Paul and his friend Mario dared each other to meet John Lennon.     He worked for an electronics shop at the time and decided to act like they were VCR repairmen  and try to get into the Dakota to meet John.    Paul had on a clipboard that he was supposed to fix a VCR for a "J. Lennon."    The doorman waved them through.     The crazy part of this story was that John really WAS having problems with his VCR, but hadn't gotten around to telling anyone on the staff to call a repair man. 

So Paul and Mario knock on the door of John's apartment and were extremely shocked that John answered the door.    John was mad because he figured his secretary had scheduled the appointment and didn't bother to tell him, so he asked the guys to leave.    The secretary told them to come back a few days later.


Not toally sure if this note from John has anything to do with Paul but look at #6



And so they came back but John had bought himself a new VCR.    Paul asked him to sign his copy of "In his own write"  and John agreed just as long as Paul wouldn't take any pictures.     Goresh even showed me a photo of the book he had autographed.   


Photo by Paul Goresh 
And the story could have ended there and it would have been a great "meet the Beatles...for real" story.   However,  Paul Goresh wasn't going to be satisfied until he got photos of John Lennon.   So he started snapping some pictures of John coming and going from the Dakota with a telephoto lens.  John sees him and gets angry about it.     The next time, Paul apologizes to John and the two of sort of developed a bit of a friendship.   They would occasionally go for walks together for five minutes here and there.      So when it was time for John to go public again, he told Paul that he could take photos.   And that is how Paul got to take that famous photo that ended up on the cover of "Watching the Wheels."

Paul was at the Dakota on December 8, 1980, and we all know that he took that terrible photograph of John with his killer.    At the time of taking the photo, it would have just been a snapshot of John signing an autograph for someone.    There was no way that Paul or any other person there knew what was going to happen.   I personally do not know why Paul chose to go public with the photograph -- but I never did ask him about that. 

My condolences go out to Paul Goresh's family and friends and for all of us in the Beatles community that had the opportunity to get to know him. 


20 comments:

  1. Firstly, R.I.P. Mr. Goresh. I do believe he took roughly that many photos, and I sure hope those photos wouldn't be lost forever. There might be a good reason why he didn't share the full roll on that December day (which he kind of regrets taking THAT photo), as for the rest of the pics, sure we all are curious as to what they would look like, but for now we lost a good person. Thank you sir for taking (and sharing) some of your photos throughout the years. Look for the youtube link about Paul Goresh, it's quite nice.

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  2. Very sad news... R.I.P. Paul Goresh! We communicated a couple of times on Messenger, he seemed really nice and thanked me for defending him when fans would say nasty things about him. He said it made him smile. I'm glad I could make him smile.

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  3. Paul was a fan just like the rest of us. RIP.

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  4. R.I.P. Paul Goresh. Paul was a true Beatles fan that wanted to meet his hero John Lennon. Yes, that's a true story about getting into the Dakota building to meet John by pretending he was attending as to repair the VCR. John Lennon confronted Paul Goresh after he noticed him taking photos of him outside the Dakota building. Lennon was of the mistaken belief that Paul was trying to trying to get photos for some type of scandal story. Goresh handed over the film from his camera to John Lennon and said to him to have it developed and give him a copy of the photos, but Lennon was upset and exposed the film to light. John later felt guilty about what he did and apologised to Paul Goresh. They went for walks together and became friends. John told Paul Goresh he would be welcome to take photos when the time was right and gave him that opportunity and encouragement. Paul Goresh was lucky enough to take a good photo of John & Yoko leaving the Dakota building which John liked and chose as the cover of his forthcoming single. I think that Paul Goresh didn't publish all the photos he had of John Lennon as a mark or respect and because he truly was taking those photos as a genuine fan. Paul Goresh always resented that he would be remembered as the person who would go down in history as the man who captured an image of John Lennon with the assassin Mark David Chapman. The image he gave to the media and was paid because it was an exclusive photo that the public would want to see. In reality Paul Goresh should have been awarded some type of journalistic award for that photo because it was shot by mere chance and was in fact a photo that the public needed to see because it showed how a deranged fan went to get John Lennon to sign his copy of the "Double Fantasy" album and a few hours later that same fan would return to shoot and kill one of the world's most well known and loved singers for no apparent reason.

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    1. A touching and accurate tribute to a kind and gentle man. One little correction: Paul and his pal posed as TV repairmen. By an amazing coincidence, John Lennon's VCR was in need of repair, and apparently figuring a VCR and TV were similar gadgets, he accordingly led the flabbergasted teens into his home (only briefly, according to Paul, when it became obvious that the duo didn't know a thing about repairing VCRs).

      Paul's fateful photo indeed was in contention for a 1980 Pulitzer prize and almost won (losing to "Firing Squad in Iran"). Paul also later snapped pics of John getting into the limo headed for recording sessions at the Record Plant -- the last photos ever taken of the beloved musician.

      Paul also loved animals, especially cats. (He carried a bag of cat food around in the truck of his vintage Cadillac to feed strays.) Paulie (as his family and longtime friends affectionally called him) could hold court for hours at favorite diners and Dunkin Donut shops in his native New Jersey. He had a number of interesting and varied interests in addition to photography, including the NY Yankees (especially his favorite player, Bobby Mercer), the TV series BONANZA (he and reclusive actor Pernell Roberts were phone pals), Abbott and Costello, Rod Stewart, the Beatles-inspired group The Knack (and Paul struck up a friendship with its members, especially founder and lead singer Doug Feiger; not surprisingly the band commissioned Paul to take pictures at several of their concerts).

      In many ways, the heros and favorites of his childhood remained with him all his life, which was tragically too short, as was the life of John Lennon, his friend.

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  5. R.I.P Paul.

    You replied to me on fb, which made my day. I can see why John would have liked you..

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  6. it was a privilege to have known you paul and to call you a friend ill miss you xx

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  7. ill miss you paul thank you for being a friend

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  8. comment on jan 29 all true .we could talk for hours at dunkin donuts R I P PAUL

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  9. ALL TRUE PAUL WAS GREAT PERSON, TALKED FOR HOURS at dunkin donuts R I P paul

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  10. Sad to hear of Paul's passing. He was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met. My road trips with him to collectible shows were so much fun because of his great stories & jokes.
    My life was so much better with him in it. Rest in peace my old friend.

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  11. Paul thanks for always being there. You were a true friend.

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  12. Paul loved the Beatles from a very young age. When his father came home from work Paul would give him a big hug & then proceed to take all the spare change from his dads pockets.
    On Saturday mornings hid dad would take Paul to the newsstand to get the paper. Paul would use all his collected change from the week to buy Beatle magazines & gum cards. They would then take a trip into NYC to Movie Star News where Paul would buy photographs of the Beatles.
    He loved his father for these fond weekend trips.
    Paul getting to meet John Lennon meant so much to him.

    I hope they have reunited once again. RIP Paul.

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  13. I am saddened to learn of Paul's passing. I never knew him, but in many ways he stands as an archetypal Beatles fan, a benign counterpoint to the disturbed monster that took John's life. I hope his life was filled with music and love and that he is at peace now.

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  14. My wife & I hung out with Paul and picked his brains about that day...he was a really nice guy! We talked for hours...R.I.P. my friend...

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  15. Aw man. I messaged him on Facebook a little while back..This explains why he never saw it. Wish we could have talked..

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  16. I was a close friend and neighbor of Paul Goresh who lived in Caldwell NJ for many years and took me into his confidence on the incidents surrounding the death of John Lennon. We had a common bond with each other, for I was working on a project that was trying to have Bruce Springsteen involved in a benefit. I could see the anguish and pain that haunted Paul when we talked about those days at the Dakota, and having wished he could have done something or should have known that Chapman was about to do something terrible. We all know that it is impossible to know what someone else is going to do, and I believe this is what haunted Paul most of all. I worked on a manuscript dealing with my experiences with the Springsteen experience, so we discussed writing a book together about his experience with John Lennon. He indicated an interest in writing a book, for many companies were interested in his story. However, he was not motivated by working on such a project, so anyone who knew Paul knows when he did not want to do something he could not be persuaded. Paul was very direct and to the point and very articulate when he spoke. His details in memory were amazing, as evidenced by his interviews on the CNN documentary covering the death of John Lennon. One of Paul's attributes you may not be aware of was his love and devotion of his father and mother, growing up in Newark. He loved talking about the old neighborhood and those fond remembrances, and his love of anything nostalgic. Abbott and Costello was one of his favorites and the television show Bonanza! I really do miss Paul and the talks we we would have, and viewing his car in the parking lot knowing it wasn't being driven and realizing something happened to Paul and his health. He loved to drive and seeing his car sitting their with low air in tires and dirt all over it did not look good. Eventually, we all found out that he had passed and all of his battles with physical pain and his inner struggles with John's passing were now over, and perhaps he could be with him once again, sharing peace and love forever! We miss you Paul and we miss John, but let's hope we can all live in peace and respect of one another, as both of these men lived their lives.

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    1. michael - sorry for the loss of your mate

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  17. I met Paul about 1990 when I worked for him as a store detective at Marshall's. He had the greatest sense of humor and we became fast friends. He could make you laugh all day. His knowledge of, not just all things Beatles, but of the whole entertainment industry was second to none - he was an encyclopedia.

    Two experiences I'll always remember were when we went to CBGB and he photographed the Knack and when we saw Ringo Starr playing with Joe Walsh at the Bottom Line in NYC. We didn't realize it until the lights came on that Diana Ross and Warren Beatty were sitting right in back of us.

    Later, Paul and I did eBay together and I saw him everyday for years. My wife and kids loved Paul too.

    Paul was really special. He is someone I will always hold close to my heart. God bless you Paul.

    Bob Clark

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