Once upon a time there was only one real rock band in London: The Rolling Stones. The band ruled the city in the late ’60s, throwing mad parties in Chelsea and striking out on chaotic tours. Their favourite photographer was Michael Cooper, who was responsible for the cover of the Stones’ album ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ as well as The Beatles’ ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band’. Introduced to the band by the art dealer Robert Fraser, Cooper joined the band’s circle and documented them in reels of candid photos.
Some rare Cooper shots of the band go on display in London this month in a free exhibition at Proud Chelsea, ‘Courting the Stones: Photographs by Michael Cooper’. Curated by Cooper’s son Adam Cooper, the show provides a surprising and intimate view of the band – especially Cooper’s close friend Keith Richards – that often pulls the rock ’n’ roll mythology aside. Here are nine shots from the exhibition, which spans the decade leading up to Cooper’s suicide in 1973.
Courting the Stones: Photographs by Michael Cooper
Keith Richards (‘Sunglasses’) Hyde Park, London, 1969
Brian Jones (‘Praying Hands’), Chelsea Manor Studios, London, 1969 – taken one week before he tragically drowned
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