London photographer Gered Mankowitz was only eighteen when Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham interviewed him for a once-in-a-lifetime gig: The rookie shutterbug—fresh off an apprenticeship with Tom Blau at Camera Press—would travel with the band on its fourth U.S. tour, acting as the Stones’ official in-house man-with-camera.
Mankowitz had already shot a few rolls of pop duo Chad & Jeremy, the latter of which introduced him to young chanteuse Marianne Faithfull. Oldham saw something in the images Mankowitz took of Mick Jagger’s sometime-girlfriend at Salisbury Pub, so he phoned the fledgling photographer for a meeting at his Gloucester Place office.
Before Gered could say “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” he was shooting the Stones at his studio at Mason Place.
“The Beatles’ mop-top haircuts where cute,” Mankowitz recalls. “But the collar-brushing locks of the Stones were brutal-looking for the times, while their individualistic dress took some getting used to in a pop scene where no previous ensemble had done anything other than sport a group uniform.”
Gered accompanied the band on its American tour between October-December 1965 and was invited back for more work in 1966-67. Now his best material from these eras has been lovingly compiled into the new Insight Editions collection Rolling Stones: One-on-One.
The new One-on-One series from Insight Editions presents the images of one artist or band taken by a single photographer during a significant period. In other words, the photo-centric travelogues document moments in rock history when the stars truly did align. Other titles profile Elvis Presley and Bob Marley. But with this Mankowitz-assembled volume, music enthusiasts are winged back to that crucial time when the Stones metamorphosed from just another competent R&B covers band into an original, self-contained rock and roll phenomenon.
An introduction by Mankowitz himself divulges the cameraman’s initial impressions of the caveman-like London quintet (Billboard / Rolling Stone scribe Sean Egan contributes additional text). Blonde-haired guitarist Brian Jones had a “definite pop star element to him” and was the most conventionally photogenic. Drummer Charlie Watts was “very rounded in terms of his personal image because he was the jazz freak and had adopted this hip New York look.” Mankowitz remembers bassist Bill Wyman also had a unique appearance—but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards “still looked a bit student-like.”
Mick was “teetering on the brink of ugliness,” writes Gered. “The mouth was too full and his on-stage performance had elements of grotesqueness to it.” But then he reconsiders: “Actually, in repose, he was quite beautiful.”
Richards would eventually develop his own style, cultivating a legendary image that fell somewhere between mariachi and pirate, what with his skull rings, hair bobs and bandana headbands. But Mankowitz says the guitarist was definitely “gauche in the beginning. There was an innocence…nobody knew where this was going.”
So off went Mankowitz with his Hasselblad to snatch images of The Beatles’ closest rivals as they stormed through the States in Autumn ’65. Enjoying all-access privileges, he was treated like another member of the band, permitted to hang backstage and in other private quarters with the group (along with Oldham and roadie Ian Stewart). Shunning paparazzi tendencies, he regarded hotel rooms as sacrosanct and wouldn’t shoot there unless asked to do so. “I didn’t walk around with a camera around my neck all the time,” he says.
Pages 20-120 reproduce Gered’s material from the tour and intervening recording sessions. The lighting was abysmal on the road; the band didn’t have their own rig just yet, and Mankowitz—who wasn’t allowed to use a flash—sometimes opted to shoot into the spotlights to produce silhouette images of the musicians in concert. At a show in Sacramento, Richards was nearly killed when the electricity from ungrounded wires blew him backwards. “Get a shot,” instructed Machiavellian manager Alan Klein, who had his sights set on co-opting the band (and whose meddling would frustrate the band’s fortunes in the Seventies).
Brian Jones laughs on an airplane with a Michelob on page 38. On 39, Charlie reads while smoking a cigarette (a reminder that almost everyone smoked in the Sixties, and could do so almost anywhere). Pages 40-43 depict the group’s return to America, with the five young men marching down the steps from a TWA jet. On pages 47-48 Keith and Mick relax in the back seat of a car; closer inspection of Richards’ glasses reveals a reflection of Mankowitz himself. Here’s Keith warming up with his Epiphone guitar in a locker room somewhere. There’s Mick showing off his athletic prowess with a basketball. And here’s Brian—still cherubic-looking and in good health—readying his instrument for show time. And there’s Mick and Andrew Loog Oldham chatting and laughing over snacks.
Pages 74-88 collect some of Gered’s best show shots—in full color as well as black-and-white. We see Brian tinkering on keyboard, Keith wailing on guitar with a stuffed animal lifeless at his feet, and Mick shuffling for the crowd. Pages 96-99 show the band prepping for a TV appearance; Brian gets his hair done, then joins his mates in ogling the group of girls who go on before them. The section on 1965 culminates with a study of Keith in bandito attire (horse, holster, and cowboy hat included) and a series of in-studio shots featuring great color candids of Charlie and Mick.
As their success compounded, the Stones became more wary of going out in public when they didn’t absolutely have to. So Mankowitz spend several days shooting the musicians in their homes in early 1966. We get Richards sitting on a toilet bowl in the front yard of his Redlands estate, Charlie and his wife Shirley on horseback, and Bill in his car and seated at a piano. Richards also poses in a rowboat, indoors with his dog, and sitting on a fence with a cold drink. Mick’s sessions yields shots of the singer reclining in a bathtub—fully dressed. On page 175 we get a live shot (in color) of the band going through its paces on the Ready, Steady, Go! TV show, and on pages 177-188 we’re treated to Mankowitz’ artsy shots of the band as taken through his Vaseline-treated lens, resulting in beautifully blurred edges framing the foreground subjects.
Alan Klein took over management from Oldham in 1967, and Mankowitz started losing his privileged insider status to photographer Michael Cooper. Drugs, tardiness, and ambivalence made it harder to work around the band in the Summer of Love, especially after the notorious raid at Redlands that nearly cost Jagger and Richards their freedom. “The atmosphere was really, really strained,” Mankowitz recalls. Still, the budding photojournalist felt this was his peak period with the band because his confidence had grown to the point where he could actively shape the Stones’ world with his own art: The cover photos for December’s Children and Between the Buttons utilized Gered images (the former featuring a serendipitous arrangement of the band as seen through a triangular portal, the latter another of Mankowitz’ strategically smudged Vaseline images). Page 167 shows a baggy-eyed Brian slouched over a keyboard; the guitarist was a hopeless drug addict by this time. Pages 212-216 find Paul McCartney joining Jagger to record some background vocals for one of Marianne’s albums.
Mankowitz went on to enjoy a prolific career after his time with the Stones, taking memorable shots of other luminaries like Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, and George Harrison. But in 1982 he received a call from a friend to reunite with the Stones at Shepperton Film Studios, where the now god-like musicians were rehearsing for the Tattoo You tour. Gered was tasked with netting some pictures for a cover story in The Observer—but he found things had changed a great deal since the old days, starting with the clandestine “bullshitty, ridiculous” travel arrangements to the top-secret location.
“The world they now occupied had nothing to do with the world I’d know them in,” he reflects. “They were not the same people anymore.”
In fact, a drunken Jagger questioned Mankowitz’ presence at one point, telling the taken-aback photographer that his formal cover shot “Ain’t f@cking happening.” Richards chimed in only to say Gered only reminded the band of the “very bad times.” This was news to Mankowitz, who reasoned that the band’s collective memory of 1966-67 was tainted by the drug bust and Jones’ death (and also, perhaps, by the debacle at Altamont Speedway in ’69). Still, our guy on the inside again overcame bad lighting to produce some terrific shots of Mick hamming it up with guitarist Ron Wood, and of Charlie twirling his drumsticks, and of a band rekindling the flame with its patented blend of dirty, rhythm and blues-based rock and roll.
The 240-page Rolling Stones: One-on-One is a bargain book worthy of a spot in every aficionado’s Lapping Tongue library. Rather than replicate the myriad weighty, impersonal coffee table compendiums on the market, Insight Editions presents Mankowitz’ intimate, there-and-then images in a paltry-priced paperback wherein history is permitted to speak for itself.