‘I give the Stones about another two years…’ Mick Jagger, 1963
Somerset House hosts a one-off photographic exhibition featuring a captivating collection of previously unseen material to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones first live performance at the Marquee Club on London’s Oxford Street.
On display in the East Wing Galleries is a fascinating selection of images commemorating the Stones half century from every period of the band’s history ranging from a wonderfully candid shot of the boys ‘On the brink of a No. 1’ to an image of the four survivors on stage in Toronto in 2005 having completed the Bigger Bang Tour.
Also on display is one of the band’s first official photographs taken in May 1963 on the Thames Embankment, with each of the five boys leaning insouciantly against a telephone box, a photograph of a rather resigned and rakish looking Keith Richards seated on a wheeled chair outside his West Sussex house surrounded by a collection of odds and ends saved from the blaze and strewn across the grass.
On view are too, a hilarious sequence of photos taken at the press launch of the Stones’ new album in December of 1968, ‘a Beggars Banquet’ turned mad hatter’s tea party complete with top hats, tails and a custard pie throwing frenzy. Another one of my favourites is a photograph of the Stones taken before their first television appearance following a shopping trip to Carnaby Street where they had each bought black and white dogtooth jackets with black velvet collars, black trousers and Cuban heeled boots. Smart and yet strangely school boy like it is an endearing and wonderfully charismatic image of the young Stones.
Also included is a magical photo taken whilst filming ‘The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus’, an esoteric performance by an all-star cast featuring The Who in fancy dress, John Lennon, in a striped all in one, and Yoko Ono, wearing a witches’ outfit with Mick dressed as the Circus master in a top hat and tails and wielding a whip.
Photographs of electrifying Stones concerts given whilst on tour throughout the 70s, 80, and 90s are truly mesmeric; an insightful and energising selection of photographs from the Stones’ archive, well worth a visit.
The exhibition runs until 27th August and is open daily 10-6m, free admission.