The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, ‘Beggars Banquet, Smokey Stones in Grass’Regular price £2,300.00
© Michael Joseph
Swarkestone, U.K. 1968
Digital archival print hand signed by the photographer
Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity
'The final shot features the Rolling Stones lying in the grass in front of the pavilion with smoke atmospherically pouring from its windows. A little while after we lit the smoke bombs, we heard a police siren wailing and then two jovial coppers came over to say they’d had a fire reported, but they were pleased to see the band posing – sadly they left before I had a chance to ask them to be in the shot!’ Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph’s ethereal photos of the legendary were taken on location in 1968, at a Gothic studio in Hampstead and at the derelict ruins of Swarkestone in Derbyshire. The photos have an eccentric style, using costumes and live animals throughout as props.
On 6th December 1968, the Rolling Stones released their 10th studio album ‘Beggars Banquet’, which the band admits changed everything for them. Making it to the top-ten charts internationally, songs such as ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’ became rock ’n’ roll classics. The album was released in the United Kingdom through Decca Records and by London Records in the US the next day. According to Keith Richards, the title ‘Beggars Banquet’ was imagined by British art dealer Christopher Gibbs. Inspired by the title, a memorable photoshoot of the Rolling Stones by Michael Joseph took place earlier that year, an iconic image of which appears in the album’s gatefold.
On discovery of this commission, Joseph shuddered — he had been on the verge of an argument with the band a few weeks before in Newcastle, where the Rolling Stones were coincidentally staying in the same hotel. Mick Jagger had refused Joseph’s wife an autograph on the grounds of being too young, and the next day Joseph tried photographing the band in the hotel foyer. He said, 'When I got chosen to do their album cover I was dreading the thought that Mick was going to recognise me, so I had my hair cut much shorter and changed my clothing.'
The art director for this photoshoot, Mike Peters, was likely inspired by Luis Buñuel’s 1961 film ‘Viridiana’ which was based on the 1895 novel ‘Halma’ by Benito Pérez Galdós. On a final scene, beggars pose around a table for a photograph, resembling the figures in Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ painting. Da Vinci’s late 15th-century painting represents the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, portraying the reaction of betrayal. Joseph also states the painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel as inspirations for the shots, as well as 1960s work by Horn/Griner and William Klein.
A second shoot with the band and Michael Joseph took place the following day, outdoors at Swarkestone Hall Pavilion in Derbyshire. The photographs were intended to be the cover images for ‘Beggars Banquet’, but a dispute between the band and the record company meant neither were used, and instead a typographic cover reading ‘Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet RSVP’ existed before the now infamous image of a graffitied toilet. Joseph’s banqueting table photograph was used inside the album sleeve. Joseph had printed his image, shot on Kodak Kodalith 35 mm black and white film, the night after the shoot, which Jagger hand-coloured, as Joseph described, 'To my horror, very garishly'. Jagger’s rendition of the image is how it appeared on the album sleeve. As Michael Joseph concluded, 'The rest is history.'
'At the time the Rolling Stones were in the midst of recording Beggars Banquet’s opening and perhaps most famous track, Sympathy for the Devil. The recording sessions – which are documented in Jean-Luc Goddard’s film -One Plus One- had begun three days earlier at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, South West London, and would continue for three days after the photographic shoot. It is fascinating to see the Rolling Stones so relaxed, at play, in many ways in celebratory mood at the tipping point of the tracks and album that became their ‘coming of age’. But there is also a poignancy – perhaps an element of the last summer of youth – compound by the fact that less that a year after the shots were taken Brian Jones had died. That said the photographs are both of the their time, but equally stand out of their times with a transportive quality that immerses one.' Guy Sangster-Adams for The London Magazine 2017
National Portrait Gallery
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