- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

Looking through 40 years' worth of photographs of the Rolling Stones at Georgetown's Govinda Gallery, it's easy to see why legendary photographer Baron Wolman says, "It was impossible to take a bad picture of the Stones." With Mick Jagger, Keith

Richards and crew coming to FedEx Field on Friday, it's appropriate that a photo retrospective of the band's magic moments should appear now. "Rolling Stones 40 x 20," so named because it collects images by 20 photographers during the band's 40-year career, runs through Oct. 26 at Govinda.

As Mr. Wolman says, there isn't a bad shot in the bunch.

The earliest pictures come from photographer Gus Coral and date to 1963, including one showing band members gathered in front of a taxi cab trying to come up with enough change for the ride.

The pictures reveal a rather serious group of lads (they wore houndstooth dinner jackets onstage) roughly a year before the band's self-titled premiere album would be released. It captures several interesting moments, and his works are all the more interesting as this is the first time Mr. Coral has put his photos on display.

"I had always thought the pictures were rather ordinary," Mr. Coral said at the opening last Friday. "It was only recently that friends convinced me otherwise."

Mr. Coral took the shots during a recording session at De Lane Lea Studios in London and at a concert in Cardiff, Wales.

"At that time, I was buying rolls of film rather than eating," he says. "Heading to Cardiff [from London] was quite a trip."

Music fans will likely recognize one of the shots from photographer Gered Mankowitz right away it's the cover to the 1967 album, "Between the Buttons," a semiblurred group shot taken outdoors with a hazy sky. His shots cover the years 1965 to 1967, including photographs of the Stones on their first U.S. tour.

"With hindsight, it's quite clear to see this was the peak of the Rolling Stones' first period of success," Mr. Mankowitz said over the phone before last Friday's opening. "When I first started with them, they were five young guys having a ball, not getting much money, but doing what they really wanted to do."

His photographs show a group growing into the role of stars, with an interesting outtake from the "Between the Buttons" session showing them shivering in the cold, and another tour shot of Mr. Jagger just beginning to perfect his vibrant stage personality.

"The best thing, fundamentally, is to always work with an artist at the beginning of their career," he says. "Musicians are quite interesting, exciting, neurotic people who speak an entirely different language."

Mr. Wolman, one of the first photographers for Rolling Stone magazine, first shot the Stones in 1968, during a week in which he also took snapshots of George Harrison and of the Who recording "Tommy."

"I wish I had done more," he said at the opening. "Their whole lifestyle was so photogenic."

His shots include concert images from '69 and '78, and the latter are significant as he was the only photographer allowed onstage, due to his close friendship with famed promoter Bill Graham. It was close to the end of his days shooting rock.

"The business of music got bigger than the music itself and therefore became less honest," he says.

Ethan Russell's photographs include the famed shot of Keith Richards standing in customs at Seattle airport underneath a sign that reads: "A Drug Free America Comes First." In his first showing in the United States, he also displays a number of tour photographs ranging from 1969 to 1972.

"There were only 13 of us on that tour, and we traveled on commercial airlines," he says of the '69 trip. "It was still about the music then and that was the tour that ended in Altamont."

That famous show, where members of the Hell's Angels killed a fan while providing security, came during the same year that original band member Brian Jones died.

Dick Waterman, better known as Bonnie Raitt's longtime manager (and for Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, James Cotton and others, as well), shot the European tour that followed in 1970. He went along because two other clients, Mr. Guy and Mr. Wells, were opening for the Stones. Mr. Waterman's photographs from those days have never been published.

"I had the honor of sitting on the edge of the stage every night for over two months," he says. "It doesn't take long for the glamour to vanish."

His photos capture a band that was between the albums "Let It Bleed" and "Sticky Fingers," a classic point for the group.

"First and foremost it was about the music," Mr. Waterman says. "They worked very hard, every single night."

The rest of the show captures the evolution of the Stones from those earlier days to their present status as living legends. Among the notable shots is a Time magazine cover shot of Mr. Jagger timed with the release of his first solo album, by William Coupon.

More recent images of Mr. Richards, including photos from Ross Halfin and Mark Seliger, are also notable for the way they contrast with the young-faced rockers of the 1960s. Mexican photographer Fernando Aceves has the most recent shots, including a 1998 photo of Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards both showing their age onstage.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with a musician still making music," Mr. Mankowitz says of the current tour. "I would have thought they were destined to continue doing that individually for a long time."

As for the growing emergence of rock photography as art, many of the photographers see it as a natural progression.

"I think that's bound to happen," Mr. Mankowitz says. "These photographs are important, powerful symbols."

WHAT: "Rolling Stones 40 x 20"

WHERE: Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW.

HOURS: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Through Oct. 26.


PHONE: 202/333-1180.

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