The Rolling Stones: In the Beginning

November 14, 2006

Celebrated Danish photographer Bent Raj crossed paths with the Rolling Stones in late 1964, and quickly endeared himself to the band, particularly the late guitarist Brian Jones. The majority of the photographs in this colossal 320-page book document the 15-month period between March 1965 and May 1966, as the Stones’ were transitioning from early fame to international acclaim. There are the usual onstage and backstage shots, but also more intimate photos taken in their homes (Keith Richards had no regular home at the time so was shot in a Hilton suite) and other non-public spots. All of the photos are excellent, and many stand as beautifully composed works of art apart from the subjects.

A collection of extraordinary photographs is not all that you get for your fifty dollars, however. There are brief but informative introductions by the photographer and Bill Wyman (who calls the book “the finest single collection of Stones photographs that I have ever seen”), short biographies of each Stone, and copious annotations drawn from Raj’s notes and Wyman’s recollections. There’s even a blurb on manager Andrew Loog Oldham. This gloriously produced optical time machine is a must-have for any serious Stones fan. (Firefly.)
—Barry Cleveland

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