They say that if you can remember the 1960s you weren’t there, but anyone in need of an aide-mémoire could do worse than visit Snap Galleries in London’s Piccadilly Arcade from Friday April 1, where there will be an exhibition of images of The Rolling Stones by veteran rock photographer Gered Mankowitz.
With photos taken between 1965 and 1967, Off the Hook: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz features backstage material taken by a man who was part of the band’s inner circle. As a teenager, Mankowitz became a photographer with the encouragement of the actor Peter Sellers, a family friend, and was introduced to The Stones at the age of 18 by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham after he had photographed Marianne Faithfull, another Oldham signing and for some years Jagger’s girlfriend. “Andrew thought I had a rawness, a quality to my photography that would somehow work with The Stones,” Mankowitz recalls.
There was a huge amount of public interest in the band and Mankowitz had the kind of access that most people could only dream of. The first photo session, in 1965, resulted in the album cover for Out of our Heads (fifth picture), as well as assorted publicity shots – and even the band’s passport photos.
They got on so well that later in the year Mankowitz joined them for their fourth North American tour. “It was just the five of them, me and the roadie, there was nobody else,” Mankowitz recalls. “No entourage, no security, no press, no publicist, no stylist, no make-up, no lights, no set – nothing.” The resulting images, many to date unpublished, show behind-the-scenes antics, including poker games with Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles, sharing toffee apples with Bo Diddley, locker rooms full of jockstraps and cuddly toys and Jagger trying on discarded giant tracksuits.
The images range in price from £1,800 to £10,000 (including Smiling Buttons, first picture, and Cuban Heels, fourth picture), depending on their size, except for the standout piece, The Cross (£50,000, third picture), a reworking of the five passport photos (Jagger, Richards, Jones, Wyman and Watts), plus one of the group, in cross formation.
Meanwhile, a new book, Backstage: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz (Ormond Yard Press, second picture, pre-publication price £250, then £395 from June; limited edition of 750 signed copies), containing many previously unpublished images by the same photographer, is also available.