Tom Weschler is a baller. The man was there, in the moment, and saw it all from behind the lens. Not only is Tom a world-class rock photographer, but he is also an excellent storyteller. Is entrance into what became his career started on the school bus. Here is Tom’s story…
In November of 1963, my family moved from my hometown of Allen Park Michigan to a town called Rochester, 25 miles north of Detroit. The day we moved was a double shocker for me because it was the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The Beatles were just coming into their own as the next hit record group in America; I was a fan right out of the box. For Christmas 1964, I was given a Kodak Brownie Super 27 camera.
In January the news was that Ed Sullivan would have The Beatles on his Sunday night TV show. A photo opportunity that I would not miss!
On February 9, 1964, my time was taken up with fixing my camera to be able to sit on a tripod. I accomplished this by gluing an HO model railroad part to the bottom of my new camera so I could secure it to the tripod. That endeavor worked out well and I got plenty of shots of the first live performance of The Beatles right off of my TV. I developed the film and printed small prints in my ‘darkroom’, which was actually a bathroom. The next day I got on the bus and sat next to the coolest girl I could find who, when I sat down looked at me like I was nutts. I was a sophomore and had no business sitting next to this senior-class beauty. I asked her if she had seen The Beatles the night before she replied: “yes, didn’t everyone”? Before she could say anything else I opened my notebook, it had 20 small photos from The Ed Sullivan Show’s Beatle’s performance taped onto the pages. She gasped! It was of course pre-VCR 1964 and you couldn’t see The Beatles again until Ed Sullivan said so. She asked me if she could borrow my notebook with all the photos in it. “Meet me in the lunchroom and I’ll give it back”, is what she said. I agreed. At lunch, I sat down across the table from her as she slid $35.00 in quarters half-dollars and singles toward me. I asked her what the money was for. She replied: “You do have the negatives for these prints, don’t you”? I said: “Yes.” She told me to print the photos on a list she gave to me. Then said that we could do this until all of her friends had photos. The Beatles were going to be on the show for the next two weeks so this would be a good thing for the two of us.
I thought about it for a split second: “photography, girls, music and a little bit of money” I put the blinders on and never looked back!