Rolling with the Stones

Reuel Golden Speaks About Working with The Rolling Stones to Create their Definitive Photographic History

The Rolling Stones on the set of "Thank Your Lucky Stars" 1964
Conceived in 1962, in Kent, England, The Rolling Stones epitomise the glamorously reckless image of Rock and Roll of the 60s. Their grass roots blues infused take on rock music, blew up in America, taking the whole world by storm in the process.

Produced in close collaboration with the band, this book charts the Stones’ ‘roller coaster’ musical journey with over 500 pages of photographs and illustrations. We spoke to editor of the book, Reuel Golden, about what it was like working with the legendary band to produce this book:

The Rolling Stones on the train to Marseilles
Photography was really important to the Rolling Stones…
right throughout their career. They were the first band who could really understand the role photography played in projecting their image of a cool, rebellious, non-conformist group. Pre-Youtube, pre- Internet, the photos appeared in magazines or record covers, and people had high expectations of the Rolling Stones.

Collaborating with them was… really fun! It was good to know that they appreciated what we were doing. They were very helpful, putting us in touch with some photographers, and allowed us access to their own private archive. We have stuff that manager of Keith Richards, Jane Rose, has shot over 30/40 years. So she shot a lot of Polaroids that we have run in the book. Its almost like a Rolling Stones family album.

The band sees this book as… their authorised photographic history. Right from the beginning they made it clear that they wanted it to be the definitive authorised history. They wanted great pictures that conveyed their history. Pictures that people hadn’t seen before. They were surprised by some of the images that we found, and asked us about who the photographers were.

We chose a variety of photographs… we used a combination of pictures by very famous photographers, such as David Bailey, Annie Leibovitz, but also we wanted to mix it up with stuff from our own personal archive and less well known photographers, and to tell their history- how they’ve evolved, as it covers a really long period- there’s a lot of material. We wanted photos that would stand the test of time.

My favourite image in the book is… one by Ethan Russell taken backstage in Los Angeles during their famous 1972 tour. The signed print is also available as part of a collector’s Art Edition. The image is the perfect snapshot of the rock n roll life, captured in a nice spontaneous way. Mick and Keith are so relaxed with each other, their surroundings, and the photographer.

Its been a fantastic book to work on… I’m a fan of the band. I’ve met some obsessive fans during the course of doing this book. They played a big part in the book. We have quite a lot of illustrations and collectable stuff. Some of these people have seen the band 200 times or something. They’ve been really helpful putting the it together. They’ve helped us with fact checking stuff.

Rolling Stones Group Portrait
Now its taken for granted… that the image is a huge part of a band’s success. If you take Lady Gaga for instance- she’s extremely talented, but also, the Twitter, the Instagram, the videos, it’s a huge part of her success. And The Stones are the Pioneers of that. In the early 60s you had bands all wearing matching suits, smiling for the camera, trying to look cuddly. The Stones were against that. It was powerful stuff- it kept their image going.

Rolling Stones
Brian_Jones-col 010
US Tour 1975 8525
Rolling Stones by Reuel Golden will be available from Taschen this December.

Credits for images in this story:
1. Rehearsing for British TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars, Birmingham, England, 1964 ©Terry O’Neill/Getty
2. Traveling by train in France, 1966 ©Jean-Marie Périer
3. Hanging out in the South of France at Villa Nellcôte for the writing and recording of Exile On Main Street, 1971. ©Dominique Tarle
4. Sanibal Island. 1976. An outtake from the session for the record Black and Blue. Photo by Hiro. ©The Rolling Stones
5. A promotional shot for the 1978 disco and new wave influenced record Some Girls ©Michael Putland/Getty
6. Denmark Street, Central London, 1964 ©Terry O’Neill/Getty
7. Brian in mildly antagonistic mode at a press conference in Copenhagen, 1965 ©Bent Rej
8. Doing publicity for the 1983 record Undercover © Bill King/The Rolling Stones
9. The Rolling Stones book cover