Rare photographs capture Rolling Stones' humble beginnings

Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

LONDON - A series of rarely seen black-and-white photographs dating back to the Rolling Stones' first concert tour in 1963 will go on display in east London this month.

The images, taken in a London recording studio and at a gig in Cardiff, Wales, had been kept under photographer Gus Coral's bed for years before he decided to dust them off.

They capture the humble beginnings of a band that would become a household name around the world, and include a picture of the musicians getting money together for a cab fare and a tiny crowd waiting in the rain before they and other acts on the tour went on stage in Cardiff.

Coral, 26 when he took the photographs, remembers thinking at the time the band was going to be big.

"Obviously ... I didn't know they were going to last for all that many years and be that special, but I knew they were special," he said.

"We were just climbing out of World War Two and there were certain people who were kind of leaders in finding a new way, a new culture to go forward. And they were one of them."

The Rolling Stones are seen in front of a taxi in an unknown location in 1963. PHOTO: Gus Coral/Zebraonegallery.com via Reuters

While watching Mick Jagger and band mates Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Brian Jones before recording "I Wanna Be Your Man" in London, Coral was struck by their professionalism.

"(People) want the - 'we smashed the hotel up and had a chain of 16-year-olds waiting outside the door'," he said. "It wasn't like that at all. It was a serious man doing a serious job and getting a recording done."

The Rolling Stones are seen on stage in an unknown location in 1963. PHOTO: Gus Coral/Zebraonegallery.com via Reuters

Coral and some friends drove to Cardiff to record the concert there, and were given unrestricted access.

"We went to the theatre. No, no press, no other camera people, no access-all-areas badges or anything of that sort. I had completely free rein and they were completely natural. They weren't posing or looking for publicity of any sort."

Coral's pictures go on display in an exhibition called "Black & White Blues - Where it all Began" at The Curtain in east London from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2.