Globally commended music photography curator Raj Prem was overjoyed to learn about the 200 limited-edition fine art prints of the Rolling Stones, which were available on eBay in February. He considers these photos to be a gem for the lovers of rock history and photography.
It is no surprise, then, that when the band and the publishers of this conclusive volume were gathering what needed to be the definitive in Rolling Stones prints, they contacted Prem soon. Comprising over 500 pages of images from some of the time’s photography legends, The Rolling Stones will consist of a limited collector’s edition run of 1,500 units – each one numbered and signed by the band. Also, six art editions will feature runs of only 75 each and come with a photographic print. The fact that number of photos from Raj Prem’s collection, taken by Philip Townsend and Peter Webb, have been incorporated in this book, which seeks to tell the tale of the Stone’s storied history, is something that truly means the world to the collector and fits effortlessly with his spirit. As he has been seen quoting: “It’s the back stories I find really interesting.”
Prem’s collection is almost unreal in rock photography circles. Showcasing snaps of the Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan among others, his dedication has resulted in his tracking down the rarest and most enchanting photos he could find. To ensure the finest images are available to fans, he also works with photographers – representing them, managing their archives and organizing exhibitions. An absolute frontrunner, Prem and long time collaborators San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAe) launched the world’s first rock photography show in 1997, emphasizing his belief that these photos are indeed fine art. He has worked with many photography legends, including Gered Mankowitz, Robert Freeman, Michael Joseph, Iain Macmillan, Michael Cooper, Peter Webb, Jerry Schatzberg, Dominique Tarlê, Terry O’Neill, and Pattie Boyd. The former music journalist holds a special place in his heart for the Rolling Stones, however. Photographs such as the ones of the Stones’ 1965 US tour exhibited at that foremost exhibition and those from “The Decca Years”, an exhibition which represented the Rolling Stones rise from chart attractions to leaders of the counter culture movement, have impressed audiences and were secured largely due to Prem’s devotion. Read Keith Richards’ best-selling autobiography Life, and you will observe that many of the photos are credited to ‘the Raj Prem collection’.
Without a doubt, viewpoints in music are some of the most personal that exist, so general statements about songs and artists are often difficult to back up persuasively. Nevertheless, there are some that are simply impossible to argue. One of those few generally held sentiments is certainly that The Rolling Stones are one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. From a musical angle alone, a convincing case can be made as the band has created some of the most unforgettable and iconic songs the category has seen. Though, it may be the visual aspect of the band that really sets them apart from any other. The Rolling Stones set the benchmark for how a rock band should appear and behave. Now, German publisher TASCHEN, editor Reuel Golden, and the band itself is offering an unparalleled look into their fifty-year history in a collectible book titled simply “The Rolling Stones”. And along with photos and graphics from the band’s personal archives, many previously unseen, renowned photo collector and exhibition curator, Raj Prem, has provided a number of amazing prints for this definitive book.
The buzz in Prem’s exciting exhibit comes with ongoing success working with the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAE). According to the celebrated collector, working with the SFAE has remained an important component of this and many other rock-based exhibitions. “I value the opportunity to work with SFAE owners and directors Jim Hartley and Theron Kabrich,” Prem recently stated. “We’ve done 40 plus exhibitions together over 18 years. SFAE was the first gallery in the world to showcase the music photography genre and is probably the most successful outlet for celebrity photography.” Raj Prem explained that the Beatles are only one of many exhibitions he has facilitated with the SFAE over the years: “Jointly we’ve co-produced several exhibitions of top UK and US photographers, including Robert Freeman, Iain MacMillan, Terry O’Neill and Dominique Tarle .” For Prem, the 50 year Beatles anniversary showcase aims to not only stimulate original fans about their musical heroes, but also deliver to younger fans direct access into what rock and roll stands up for.
Demand for all things Beatles helped Raj Prem’s decision, with an upfront goal with the exhibition to give fans who already have a comprehensive understanding of the band something new and exciting. This prompted him to find a series of rarely seen photographs from the group’s most important years in the 1960s. The Beatles photography exhibition aims to recreate what fans originally felt over 50 years ago.
Rock and roll showcaser Raj Prem discusses his release of a new collection of rare and mostly unseen photographs of society’s favorite pop group: The Beatles. The exhibition follows another major milestone for these legends of rock and roll – over 50 years since the band’s first iconic showing on the Ed Sullivan Show in the United States. As BeatleMania lifted the group into the international spotlight, the impulse to get more access into the Beatles’ lives behind the show grew like a wildfire. The public wanted a look into all aspects of their lives. Legendary photographer Robert Freeman helped make this wish a reality through personal access into the Beatles’ lives and showcasing them in many of the most iconic shots in the history of the celebrated foursome.
Rock and roll memorabilia curator, Raj Prem, has announced the release of a new series of rare and mostly unseen photographs of everyone’s favorite Fab Four: The Beatles. The exhibition comes on the heels of another major milestone for these legends of rock and roll – over 50 years since the band’s first iconic concert and appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the United States. As BeatleMania continued to skyrocket the group into the international spotlight, the desire to get more access into the Beatles’ lives behind the stage grew exponentially. Fans wanted a look into all aspects of their favorite rock stars and get a peak into the private lives. Legends like photographer Robert Freeman helped make this fan wish come true by getting intimate access into the Beatles’ world and showcasing them with some of the most iconic pictures in the history of rock.
The display shows an unusual collection of group and single portraits in both black and white and color, clicked against the purpose-built setting made by Webb at his North London Studio. One such example is the “Stones Rollin’,” which was an introduction to Peter Webb’s well-known ‘Falling Stones’ picture. The picture was nominated as one of the top 100 Rock and Roll photos of all time by Q Magazine and will feature on the front cover of the book with the same name — a premium volume that comprises the same photographs shown in the exhibition. Another example is “The Big Yawn,” a picture in which Mick’s huge mouth is wide open, while Bill Wyman itches his nose. Due to the efforts of Raj Prem, SFAE is a specialised outlet for Peter Webb’s work in the US.
Raj Prem has become a vital influence in ensuring the photographs of the ‘60s- ‘70s period are kept together while associating with SFAE’s directors and proprietors Theron Kabrich and Jim Hartley, who in Raj Prem’s estimate is the “eminence grise” of SFAE and the unsung brilliance of the business,. “Sticky Fingers: The Lost Session – Pictures by Peter Webb” is a prominent display that includes the entire remaining archive of Peter Webb’s 1971 photo session with The Rolling Stones for the “Sticky Fingers” album. More than two-thirds of the photos have never been seen by the public, which makes the exhibition much anticipated among Stones followers and art enthusiasts. In line with the Stones ‘ Sticky Fingers’ US tour in the present year, a more wide-ranging exhibition at SFAE is being reflected, where Webb’s archive is presently on display as a permanent fixture. “When something’s gone it’s just gone, you know. We are talking 38 years in place of talking a year or two. After they’d been found I walked around with this big smile on my face for days,” Webb said to Snap Galleries. According to Webb, taking photographs of The Stones “as they were” at that exact moment in time, void of any predominant “concept” was the most valuable idea he had.