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Gered Mankowitz: The teenager who shot the Stones

24 March 2016

In 1965, aged only 18, GERED MANKOWITZ got a call asking him to photograph the Rolling Stones. His iconic images of the band started Mankowitz on a long, successful career that saw him shoot big names such as Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Kate Bush, Duran Duran, and Oasis. With his work for the Stones forming a new retrospective exhibition, Off the Hook: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz, and a new book, Backstage: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz, the photographer explains how he got his first big break.

"An outtake from the famous Between the Buttons album session, shot early in the morning on Primrose Hill in North London after an all-night recording session in November 1966." © Gered Mankowitz

I met Marianne Faithfull in the summer of 1964, when she was promoting her first single As Tears Go By, and I immediately wanted to photograph her – who wouldn't!

I got my chance and we became close friends almost straight away. I took her out to Wimbledon Common, one of my favourite locations for photo shoots back then.

The band were very supportive and at no time did I feel awkward or inhibited by them or their reputation

I also hung out with her in the recording studios and then took her to the Salisbury Pub in Central London to shoot the cover for her album Come My Way.

Marianne was managed by Andrew Loog Oldham. He saw these publicity shots I'd done for her and liked them. He asked me to photograph his other band, The Rolling Stones.

I think he felt that my youth - I was 18 years old at the time - and my inexperience would impart a gritty, honest realism to the band’s image.

My first shoot was early in 1965 at my studio in Mason’s Yard, behind Piccadilly, where I had been based since 1963.

The band were kind and very supportive and at no time did I feel awkward or inhibited by them or their reputation. They responded to my minimal direction with patience and an enthusiasm which comes across in the images we made.

The session was very successful, producing the cover for their album Out of Our Heads.

My photos were also used on various single bags, sheet music covers, adverts and publicity photos, as well as the cover for the US tour at the end of that year that I was to join them on.

I continued to work with them until mid-1967 when they split with Andrew.

Gered Mankowitz.
Gered Mankowitz photographed in the 1960s.
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. © Gered Mankowitz
"Keith tunes up backstage. In those days there were no sound-check, no lighting, no set - just a great band." © Gered Mankowitz
"Keith with his Hummingbird guitar, RCA studios Hollywood December 1965, recording tracks for the Aftermath album." © Gered Mankowitz
"Mick & Mic. Mick Jagger at the RCA Studios Hollywood, December 1965. This microphone was reputed to have been used by Elvis." © Gered Mankowitz
"Out of Our Heads album cover shot in Ormond Yard during my first session with the band in early 1965." © Gered Mankowitz
"Keith & Mick playing poker with support act Nona Hendryx of Patty LaBelle & the Bluebelles – I think Mick had just won!" © Gered Mankowitz
"Mick with fans backstage. Local chapters of the fan club, as well as friends of the local promoters, were always backstage and the band treated them with tremendous courtesy." © Gered Mankowitz
"Keith entertains the police. The police loved hanging out with the band but had no idea how to deal with the screaming fans." © Gered Mankowitz
"Brian's haircut. Brian was very concerned about his hair and couldn’t resist having it trimmed by the NBC studio hairdresser, when the band appeared on the Hullabaloo TV show." © Gered Mankowitz
Mick Jagger RCA Studios Hollywood USA December 1965 © Gered Mankowitz
Mick Jagger on the roof of Harley House London, 1966 © Gered Mankowitz
Mick Jagger & Keith Richards backstage USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz
Brian Jones, Keith Richards & Charlie Watts backstage London Palladium 1967 © Gered Mankowitz
Mick Jagger & Aston Martin DB6 London 1966 © Gered Mankowitz
The Rolling Stones on stage in the USA 1965 © Gered Mankowitz
The Rolling Stones Caged Ormond Yard, London, 1965 © Gered Mankowitz

Backstage: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz is published by Ormond Yard Press, 31 July 2016. The exhibition Off the Hook: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz at Snap Galleries, London, ran from 1 April to 28 May 2016.

More music Photography from BBC Arts

More music photography from BBC Arts

More from BBC Arts