Peter Max and The Beatles: Friends, Artists, Icons of the 1960s

Peter Max Park West Gallery

Peter Max with a piano signed by Ringo Starr.

Two of the biggest cultural innovators of the 1960s were artist Peter Max and the legendary rock group The Beatles. But did you know that Max was actually close friends with John, Paul, George, and Ringo?

All five men emerged as artists during the same era. Max co-founded his first art studio in 1962. The next year, following a series of successful residencies in Hamburg, Germany, The Beatles released their very first studio LP, “Please Please Me.” By the end of ‘60s, almost everyone in the world knew the names Peter Max and The Beatles.

Beyond just being contemporaries, Max and The Beatles shared many common interests—music, art, Eastern culture, and yoga—so it’s not surprising that their paths intersected multiple times throughout their careers.

Here are three remarkable ways Max’s artistic career overlapped with history’s most famous band.

 

Did Peter Max Inspire “Yellow Submarine”?

Park West Gallery Peter Max

“Cosmic Runner Ver. VI” (2008), Peter Max

Many assume that Max created the designs for The Beatles’ iconic 1968 animated film “Yellow Submarine.” While his cosmic artwork is definitely a spiritual cousin to the film’s iconic aesthetic, he only did early consulting work for the project.

In an interview with Westchester Magazine, Max noted that John Lennon called the artist personally to ask him to work on “Yellow Submarine.”

“I was very, very close friends with The Beatles, and they were going to make a movie,” Max said. “I remember getting a call from John, saying they wanted me to do it. … And then I flew to Europe and found out that they wanted me to stay in Europe for seventeen months and make the whole film.”

However, Max didn’t want to be separated from his family for the film’s long production schedule. Instead, Max recommended artist Heinz Edelmann, who, at the time, had business cards introducing himself as “The German Peter Max.”

In a recent interview, Max said that the end result was “similar in some ways to my ’60s art but even more similar to Pushpin Studios artists Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast and John Alcorn.”

 

Peter Max and The Beatles’ Yoga Connection

Peter Max Swami Satchidananda Park West Gallery

Peter Max with Swami Satchidananda, 1967. Photo from “The Universe of Peter Max”

Max was a pivotal figure in popularizing yoga in the United States. In 1966, he met the Indian guru Sri Swami Satchidananda who taught Max all about transcendental meditation and yoga. That same year, The Beatles’ George Harrison embraced similar teachings from the guru Maharishi.

The two friends helped spread their swamis’ teachings across the U.S. and the U.K., even working together at New York’s Integral Yoga Institute.

 

Max’s One-of-a-Kind Piano

Peter Max Park West Gallery

The custom painted piano in Max’s studio, signed by Ringo Starr.

One of the most memorable features of Max’s immense New York studio is a painted baby grand piano signed by his friend Ringo Starr.

Max told the New York Post, “Ringo wanted me to paint a [Baldwin] piano for him. Baldwin liked it so much, they sent me another one—I painted that too! Then Ringo came in and saw it. He said, ‘Give me a brush.’ And he painted that—the word ‘Ringo’ followed by a star.”

 

If you’re interested in adding a Peter Max to your personal collection, now is the perfect time. You can also contact one of our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 during business hours or email sales@parkwestgallery.com for inquiries after hours.

 

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT PETER MAX AND THE BEATLES:

8 Responses to Peter Max and The Beatles: Friends, Artists, Icons of the 1960s

  1. Ron Levin says:

    I love his works, have eight of them including one unique. Have met him a few times at auctions. Hope to maybe purchase more of his on park west cruise sept 2.

  2. Rjnrabbit says:

    Peter Max…love his art work, enhances our condo decor. Maybe my 4th piece on our Oct. cruise to Bermuda.

  3. Elliott Ring says:

    I have seven Max pieces and got to meet him last year at a land event.

  4. Kim says:

    We love Peter Max and have met him 3 times. He is one of our favorite artist. We have 5 mixed medias, 1 original and we have a commission piece which we will cherish for many years. We have had many positive comments on it. Keep up the great work Peter.

  5. Chuck White says:

    Love Peter, Love the Beatles. We own 5 Max’s would differently like to have more. We’ll be gone most of the month of September. Week in Paris and then a 16 day Transatlantic Cruise. Be back the 25th. Thanks

  6. Gail McGhee says:

    We have 8 Wonderful masterpieces of Peter Max. I’ve unfortunately had to pass on meeting him 3 times now due to health. We have bought all our art on cruises. Only missing one to complete our 6 piece series- we own 5. The big hunt to complete. Running out of walls in our condo However must complete. Our other condo has another favourite artist I’m collecting. My husband started with Peter Max. First purchase was Muhammad Ali portrait signed by Muhammad & Peter, unfortunately we don’t have a big space for it. To think this what started him on Peter Max & poor Muhammad hasn’t been hung- need a wall for it. Such a shame not to enjoy such a grand piece!

  7. Marilyn says:

    Did the ashtray Love by Peter Max have any connection to the Beatle song All You Need Is Love?

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