It was through Prem’s tireless research and retrieval of rare, never-before-seen photographs documenting the intimate, backstage lives of rock icons such as the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix that rock fans around the world came to feel a deeper connection to their musical idols.
For 21 years, Prem has been organizing gallery exhibits that have shed new light onto celebrities that one might assume have already had every aspect documented. It began in 1996 and a chance conversation with Theron Kabrich, co-owner of the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAe) gallery that set Prem on his life’s mission. The resulting 1997 exhibition featured the work of renowned photographer Gered Mankowitz who documented the famed 1965 U.S. Rolling Stones tour. Every print was sold on opening night. In the subsequent two decades, Prem has curated more than 95 shows in numerous countries and galleries around the world, including the USA, UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai and the Netherlands. His close association with Kabrich and Jim Hartley at the SFAe gallery has also continued, accounting for 40 of the exhibits from such photographers as Robert Freeman, Iain Macmillan (the photographer behind the bestselling Abbey Road collection), Michael Cooper, Pattie Boyd (the first wife of Beatle George Harrison), Peter Webb, Jerry Schatzberg, Dominique Tarlê and Terry O’Neill.
Raj Prem did not come from the art world, but began his career as a music journalist, which may account for his more profound cultural understanding and constant promotion of the period from 1963 – 1972, when rock emerged as the dominant societal and revolutionary force around the world. His goal has always been to give the most diehard fans something new, and open up for them a deeper understanding of their favorite bands. Some recent critically acclaimed exhibitions have included the major 2013 show, “Robert Freeman: Beatles for Sale” in London and “The Decca Years: The Rolling Stones 1962-1971,” which depicted the Stones as seen through the eyes of Gered Mankowitz, Ethan Russell, Philip Townsend, and Jerry Schatzberg. Not satisfied to stay still – like a Rolling Stone – Prem most recently announced plans to open an art gallery in Doha, Qatar, to display his internationally acclaimed exhibitions.