||Milestones in the history of rock
Shane Richmond reviews The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz, at Proud Camden Moss galleries, NW1
As the Stones get together yet again to tour the world, it's easy to forget that this wrinkled outfit were once young, that Sir Mick was once a threat to the establishment and, most important of all, that this band used to sit at the very centre of popular culture.
Wild ones: the Rolling Stones
Getting old is an occupational hazard in an industry that worships youth above all else. Gered Mankowitz's photographs of the Stones, taken between 1965 and 1967 are a vivid reminder of a band at their peak.
The son of high-profile parents, Gered slotted easily into the burgeoning culture of the sixties. At 17 he opened his first studio and, soon after, was photographing Marianne Faithfull, which brought him to the attention of Andrew Loog Oldham.
Mankowitz was soon asked to work with another of Oldham's bands, The Rolling Stones. Three records into a run of top ten singles that was to last until 1971, the Stones had just released their second album.
Mankowitz was soon shooting the cover of their third album, the famous shot of the band on Primrose Hill at dawn, their surroundings blurry and vague, faces drawn from a night of recording. The exhibition opens with the pictures from this session and it's at once clear that these are rock stars.
In an age when stars are selected in telephone polls, these images depict the real thing. It's there in their faces, their clothes but most of all in the confident way they stare down the camera. Right at the back of the five but dead centre, Mick Jagger looks much the same as now only younger.
Leaning over his left shoulder, almost unrecognizable to a modern gaze, is Keith Richards. Wearing mirrored shades and free from the facial lines that come from years of drinking neat aviation fuel he looks like the visual definition of cool.
For those unfortunates who never got to see the band at their glorious peak the next part of the exhibition provides a treat. Joining the band on their backbreaking tour of the US in autumn 1965, Mankowitz spent every night taking pictures from the side of the stage.
More than any others on show these photos demonstrate the naked energy of the Stones in action. We see Keith approaching out of the darkness, the neck of his guitar glinting under the lights. Then Mick turning breathlessly from the mic, clapping his hands together in an instantly recognizable Jagger gesture.
Mankowitz also shows us the hysteria that surrounded the Stones on tour. Here are screaming young girls held back by nervous-looking security guards, packed auditoriums draped with banners that declare simply: 'MICK' or 'CHARLIE'. In one instance there is a shot of the band emerging from an armoured car on the way to a gig, a reminder of the delirium they faced at each show.
The Rolling Stones and Gered Mankowitz remained close for the next two years and the exhibition contains pictures taken as he followed them to TV shows, to recording studios and even to their homes. In one shot, the late Brian Jones stands next to a brightly coloured mural in his house.
Jones is a mysterious presence in this exhibition. While his bandmates have grown to have children by celebrity wives and inappropriate relationships with drugs or underage girls, Brian stays just as he was.
In the oldest of the photos here he has no more than three years of his life left. The most striking shot in the exhibition is a large portrait of him, slightly out of focus, his head bent into his fur coat. It's strangely magnetic and it gives just a hint of the enormous star he could have been.
Elsewhere, in one of the few candid photos in the show, Keith strolls in the garden with his dog. One could criticize the photos on display here for the lack of candid shots. The rest of the images conform to the stereotype of the Stones as cool, moody rock 'n' rollers and it would be nice to see some 'off duty' moments to offer a different perspective.
But it should be remembered that these pictures weren't stereotypes when Gered Mankowitz took them. It was these sessions that formed our familiar conceptions of the band
As the Stones began to drift apart from their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, so they inevitably began to move away from Mankowitz, who was Oldham's man. The last shots in the exhibition are some tense photos from the recording, in 1967, of Their Satanic Majesties Request.
Shortly afterwards Mankowitz was replaced. The Stones soon left Oldham behind and moved into the phase of their career that saw them produce their best work. Mankowitz continued to work with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Free and the Small Faces and remains to this day one of the top photographers in rock.
The three years when their paths crossed gave rise to some striking images from an era in the Stones's history that is all too easily forgotten. So go and see the Stones on this tour: it could be your last chance to see this remarkable band.
But to really understand what makes them so remarkable, go and see this exhibition.
You can buy the 2-CD box set Forty Licks by the Rolling Stones from our retail partners Musica for the special price of £15. Click here for details.
Win a copy of Gered Mankowitz's book The Rolling Stones
We have a copy of The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz to give away.
Simply send an email with 'Rolling Stones' in the headline to firstname.lastname@example.org containing your name and address.
Terms and conditions:
1. This competition is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland aged 16 or over. Employees of Hollinger Telegraph New Media Limited (‘HTNML’), the Telegraph Group Limited (‘TGL’), members of their families, and anyone directly associated with the competition are not eligible to enter.
2. A reader wishing to take part in this competition should send an email stating their name and address. Entries are limited to one per household. No purchase necessary.
3. The closing date for entries is Friday 11 October 2002.
4. The sender of the first entry to be drawn at random from all those received by the closing date will win a copy of Gered Mankowitz's book The Rolling Stones .
5. No responsibility can be accepted for entries lost in transmission. Proof of sending is not proof of delivery.
6. The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative.
7. It is a condition of entry that all rules are accepted as final and that the competitor agrees to abide by these rules. Instructions for this competition form part of the terms and conditions.
8. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.