TASCHEN Offers The Rolling Stones’ Visual Greatest Hits

There’s something about rock ’n’ roll and photography that just clicks—the way a song and a photograph each have the ability to capture a moment each in their own way. Few bands have defined their era (and beyond) more incisively than the Rolling Stones, leaving a trail of lasting images in their wake.  

Now, TASCHEN celebrates Mick, Keith, and co. with “It’s Just a Shot Away,” a major exhibition which has inaugurated the luxe publisher’s new Los Angeles gallery, featuring some 100 photographs of the iconic crew, taken by 15 major photographers, from David Bailey to Peter Beard. The show—which pulls its title from the 1969 song “Gimme Shelter”—is accompanied by a new “sumo-sized” tome featuring the work of more than 60 photographers spanning the Stone’s five-decade career.

The collection ranges from the earliest days of the band through their ascendancy into rock’s pantheon and beyond, with shots dating back to 1964, the year their eponymous debut lifted them to the upper echelons of music stardom and a spot at the top of the charts. Images from that year include a black-and-white portrait of the then-fivesome, featuring the late Brian Jones and former bassist Bill Wyman, by iconic imagemaker David Bailey. A portrait of Jagger from a later series by Bailey, which showed each of the band members’ faces hidden behind gauzy fabric in saturated colors, would be featured as the cover of their 1973 album, Goats Head Soup. The two images were shot barely a decade apart, but it could have been a lifetime in the stylistic evolution of both the band and the photographer. 

While there are plenty of publicity images and portraits (including several others that became album covers) in the book and exhibition, other photographs offer intimate glimpses into life on the road with the world’s most famous band, courtesy of Ethan Russell, who was the Stones’ official photographer from 1968 to 1972, including the 1969 American tour which culminated in the deadly concert at Altamont, one of the most infamous days in rock history. 

Contributions from some of the biggest names in pop photography from the last 50 years—Gered MankowitzJean-Marie PérierBent Rej, and Terry Richardson—round out this multifaceted portrait of perhaps the most important group of all time. A visual greatest hits album, of sorts. 

—Heather Corcoran

It’s Just a Shot Away: The Rolling Stones in Photographs” is on view at TASCHEN, Los Angeles, Dec. 13, 2014–Jan. 31, 2015.

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