THE photographer who took one of the most famous pictures of the Beatles in a short session at a Bournemouth hotel has died aged 82.

A shot by Robert Freeman, taken at what is now the Premier Inn on Westover Road, became the cover of the band’s second LP, With the Beatles.

It was taken at what was then the Palace Court Hotel on August 22, 1963, while the band were playing two shows a night during a six-day stint at the Gaumont cinema, later renamed the Odeon.

The famous image showed the Beatles with their faces half in shadow.

Sir Paul McCartney remembered the picture being taken in a corridor, although other versions of the story say it was shot in a dining room.

Freeman recalled: “They had to fit in the square format of the cover, so rather than have them all in a line, I put Ringo in the bottom right corner, since he was the last to join the group. He was also the shortest.”

Paying tribute on his blog at the weekend, Sir Paul McCartney said: “He was one of our favourite photographers during the Beatles years who came up with some of our most iconic album covers. Besides being a great professional he was imaginative and a true original thinker.

“People often think that the cover shot for Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor. I think it took no more than half an hour to accomplish.”

Reportedly, EMI considered vetoing the shot as an album cover because the Beatles were not smiling.

Freeman went on to take the cover photographs for Beatles for Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul.

Born in London and educated at Cambridge, he began his career at the Sunday Times. He became known for his photos of jazz musicians, including John Coltrane, before the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein hired him to photograph the group.

The first of the Beatles’ three stays in Bournemouth was also noticeable for the band introducing the audience their new song, She Loves You, on Monday, August 19. It would shoot straight to number one when it was released that Friday and remained the UK’s biggest-selling single until 1977, when it was outsold by Mull of Kintyre, by Paul McCartney & Wings.

During the same 1963 visit, George Harrison wrote his first Beatles song, Don’t Bother Me, while confined to his hotel room with a cold.

After the Monday shows, the future singer-songwriter Al Stewart and his friend Jon Kremer talked their way backstage at the Gaumont by pretending to be from the Rickenbacker guitar company, and chatted with John Lennon at the stage door.