Magical mystery tour: Exhibition reveals unseen Beatles and Rolling Stones images

As their manager, Bob Bonis travelled America with The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Now his treasure trove of pictures is revealed for the first time.
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Look at these spoilt, naughty youths giving a photographer the finger as they loll beside the pool and sip martinis at a hotel in Clearwater, Florida in the mid-Sixties. Something about the floppy hair and hedonistic grins seems familiar – and gosh, it's Keith Richards and Brian Jones sucking up the good life of Rolling Stones when they'd just hit the big time. And here is John Lennon, brooding in granny glasses and candy-striped jacket, backstage in a locker room at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia.

These photographs of the two most successful British pop groups of the Sixties were taken by Bob Bonis, who had the distinction of being road manager to both. He took the Stones on their first US tour in 1964, after they were named Best New British Group by Melody Maker. So reportedly well-behaved were Jagger and Co in America that Brian Epstein, the Fab Four's manager, signed Bonis to manage the Beatles' US tour.

Bonis took 3,500 pictures of his charges, and a selection has gone on show at the Not Fade Away Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan, under the title The British Are Coming: The Beatles & The Rolling Stones 1964-66. Alongside standard zany Hard Day's Night-style poses, there are some real gems. Mick Jagger shaking his maracas to "Not Fade Away" and trying out the androgynous dance moves that wowed a generation. A dreamily unfazed Ringo Starr looking down the barrel of a gun held by the Beatles' chief fixer, roadie and bodyguard, Mal Evans, later to be shot dead by the LA police in 1976. Keith Richards giving Charlie Watts a haircut before a concert. Jagger again, a skinny, pale English kid in red trunks, getting the feel of transatlantic glamour at only 21.

Bob Bonis died in 1991, aged 59. His pictures came to light only recently, when his son Alex discovered them at the bottom of a bag filled with Beatles and Stones memorabilia. Some of the pictures had appeared in music magazines in the late 1960s, but the majority have never been published before. They are, says the Not Fade Away Gallery's owner Larry Marion, "the largest single trove of such important, unknown photographs ever uncovered".