The Rolling Stones. First photo shoot in 1963.

52 years into their careers, the Rolling Stones released their new album in 2016, called Blue & Lonesome. The album features cover versions of blues songs, that inspired the band members in the early days, and is described as roots revival. Today, THAT SPOT pays tribute to one of the greatest bands of all times by walking through the locations of their first photo shoot and looking back at when it was all starting

“On May 4, 1963, the Rolling Stones, then a scrappy quintet known mostly for banging out Chuck Berry covers, gathered for their first official photo shoot on the streets of London’s Chelsea district. Five bad boys in the making, some still sporting adolescent pimples, they slouched in ratty sweaters, rumpled jackets and ill-fitting trousers, looking like students stumbling through a three-day bender after getting expelled.”

— The New York Times

The photos were taken by Philip Townsend, who worked as a photographer in the 60s and captured numerous vivid moments of that era. Sadly, Townsend passed away in 2016 at the age of 75. As the Guardian mentions, “Philip’s best known images were of the Rolling Stones, and he was able to gain access to the group because of a friendship dating to his teenage years with Andrew Loog Oldham, their first producer”. In an interview to the Daily Mirror, Townsend recalled the day the photo shoot took place.

“Townsend’s first encounter with the band was a memorable one, most notably for a young Mick Jagger’s demands. The young singer, who was only 19, complained of being hungry and made the photographer head to a local barbeque to pick up chicken before the shoot could start. Townsend said: “I stuck them in the middle of Ifield road with a no parking sign. It was the first picture that had ever been taken of them together.””

— The Daily Mirror

The following picture is known as the first one of the Rolling Stones together as a band. While Townsend mentioned Ifield road as the location for the iconic photograph, the shot was actually taken outside Edith Grove 102, where Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards shared a flat.

Interestingly, the darker house you see in the photograph is still painted darker than the surrounding ones.

“The snapper then ferried the band around in his Ford Capri Mark I, “which was quite difficult because it was only a four seater”, and photographed them around London. But cheeky Jagger couldn’t resist pushing his luck with Townsend when the group headed to be photographed at a local pub.

He recalled: “As I bought them chickens I really didn’t want to buy them beer as well but Mick Jagger said “Yeh we’ll have five pints please.” “I said “No you won’t because I’ve just bought you two chickens I can’t buy you five pints as well.”

So that’s why they’re looking at the pictures and holding tankards up.””

— The Daily Mirror

The photo was taken at 29 Milner street, where an Australian pub was located. It’s not there anymore, but note the two-storey brick house in the background.

In the next series of photos, the band members are standing by the house at 113 Cheyne Walk, at the intersection with Riley Street. Same decorative elements under the windows and the same (or extremely similar) drain cover with eight long holes in it by the pavement.

During the first Stones’ photoshoot Townsend took a lot of pictures of them by the Thames embankment, just across the street from where the band members are standing in the previous photograph. This once could be located exactly due to a peculiar mark on the stone circled in red.

Same embankment. The bench is not there anymore. However, it is easy to locate where it was by the houses in the background. Click through the pictures and look for similarities on the Street View.

And the last one was a true surprise. The Photographers’ Lounge website gives an indication of the photo’s location at Marble Arch. Amazingly, the five phone booths are still at the same place!

Oddly, this picture was taken rather far from all the rest of the pictures in the series. Further search showed that on that day the photo shoot was not limited to Chelsea district. More photos from that day exist. However, some are unreacheable by Google Street View, like the ones taken closer to the Thames river, and some could not be located due to reconstruction or lack of any hints on the photo location. Well, you can’t always get what you want!


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