Rock stars through the lens

David Montgomery and Gered Mankowitz share the stories behind their famous photographs of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and other rock ‘n’ roll stars

Three of rock ‘n’ roll’s best known photographers have been discussing their iconic pictures of the likes of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Morrissey and David Bowie in The Backstage Sessions, a new series of short documentaries created by another acclaimed snapper Rankin and The Full Service creative agency. The films featuring David Montgomery, Kevin Cummins and Gered Mankowitz have been released by We Transfer – and we caught up with Montgomery and Mankowitz to get the stories behind some of their most famous shots…

Gered Mankowitz

The Rolling Stones, Caged

‘This shot was taken in early 1965 during my first session with the band just outside my studio in Mason’s Yard, which was behind Piccadilly Circus. The previous week a well-known and popular newspaper had labelled the band as being no better than wild animals who should be caged, because they had urinated on a garage forecourt where the owner had refused to let them use the toilets – all very rock and roll! This was our response which was widely used by the band at the time and has always been one of my favourites.’

Jimi Hendrix, Boots

‘When I first met Jimi in London, just after he had arrived in town late in 1966, I was struck by his gentleness and off stage he had a fragility to him that seemed at odds with his wild antics when he played his music. I was determined to try and capture this quality during our first session together, and have always loved this shot of him which seems to have caught some of those qualities. The boots came from a shop in Covent Garden called Anello & Davide, and no self-respecting musician of the day could be seen without them – they are still making handmade shoes today.’

Kate Bush, Wuthering Heights

‘When the record company asked me to listen to Kate’s debut single I had no idea what to expect, and on first hearing of Wuthering Heights I had to play it again, because it was so unique that once was definitely not enough! I knew that we needed a portrait that people would want to look at again and again, and one that would capture her extraordinary beauty as well as saying something about the importance of dance and movement in her background. I proposed that she dressed in dancer’s gear against an old and distressed canvas and lit in a very natural style – she looked wonderful, the record company put the shot on the front of buses, and the rest is history.’

All photos above by Gered Mankowitz, ©BOWSTIR Ltd, 2017/Mankowitz.com

David Montgomery

Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland shoot

‘Jimi was very shy and quiet he did exactly what he was told to do and was one of the nicest people I have ever met. When the gas flames exploded behind him he didn’t move an inch and kept looking at the camera. From my perspective it looked like he might be fried to a crisp but thankfully all ended well. And I went out and bought a blue fender guitar for myself after that.’

Roger Daltrey, The Who Sell Out cover

‘All of the members of The Who behaved like complete gentleman which threw me a bit as I expected mayhem to reign supreme. The idea was to put Roger Daltrey in a bathtub filled with baked beans. Roger sat in the bath tub which was empty in the beginning then we had tins of baked beans and we all started opening them and filling the bath. One problem being that the beans were cold. Roger said nothing and was a true professional. Finally, the bathtub was filled with the beans and Roger sat there shaking cold but said nothing. After the shoot was over he told me that it was freezing! Many years later I met Roger at some function and he told me that he almost got pneumonia from the shoot. We had a drink together and a good laugh about it.’

The Rolling Stones, Chelsea, 1970s

‘I shot the Sticky Fingers album promotion one late evening during the week at my Chelsea studio. The shooting was scheduled for 7pm. Needless to say, Keith showed up at 10pm and Mick breezed in at about 10.30pm. Mick had real charisma, which shows right down to the fact that he’s holding the Andy Warhol album cover upside down. We shot in the studio for a bit then I took them to the end of Edith Grove to my local chip shop. We took some pictures in their and had fish and chips.’


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