The thrill surrounding Prem’s latest exhibit comes together with sustained success working with the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAE). As per the well-known curator, working with the SFAE has remained an important component of this and many other rock-based exhibits. “I value the opportunity to work with SFAE owners and directors Jim Hartley and Theron Kabrich,” Prem recently mentioned. “We’ve done 40 plus exhibitions together over 18 years. SFAE was the first gallery in the world to showcase the music photography genre and is probably the most successful outlet for celebrity photography.” Prem said that the Beatles photography is only one of many exhibitions he has facilitated with the SFAE over the years. As he continued, “Jointly we’ve co-produced several exhibitions of top UK and US photographers, comprising Robert Freeman, Iain MacMillan, Terry O’Neill and Dominique Tarle .” For Prem, the 50 year Beatles anniversary show aims to not only revive original fans about their musical heroes, but also give younger fans straight access into what rock and roll is all about.
Opinions on music are certainly some of the most subjective that exist, and blanket statements about tracks and artists are often difficult to back up convincingly. However, a few are simply inarguable. One of those particular universally held opinions is certainly that The Rolling Stones are one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. From the musical side alone, a strong argument can be made that band has written some of the most memorable and iconic songs the genre has produced. Despite this, it may be the image of the band that truly sets them apart from any others. The Rolling Stones set the standard for ways that rock bands should present themselves. Now, from German publisher TASCHEN, editor Reuel Golden, and the band members’ personal archives, comes an unprecedented look into their fifty-year history in a collectible book simply titled “The Rolling Stones”. Along with a number of previously unseen images, legendary photo collector and exhibition curator, Raj Prem, has given several revolutionary prints for this definitive book.
Prem’s collection is a legendary one in rock photography arenas. Featuring iconic snaps of the Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan among others, his passion has resulted in his identifying the rarest and most captivating photos he could locate. In order to make sure the best photos are accessible to fans, he also works with photographers – representing them, managing their collections and organizing showcases. A true legend, Prem and long-running collaborators San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAe) launched the world’s foremost rock photography show in 1997, highlighting his belief that these photos are in fact fine art. He has worked with many photography icons, such as Gered Mankowitz, Robert Freeman, Michael Joseph, Iain Macmillan, Michael Cooper, Peter Webb, Jerry Schatzberg, Dominique Tarlê, and Terry O’Neill, in addition to Pattie Boyd. The legendary music journalist holds a special spot in his heart for the Rolling Stones, however. Photos such as the ones of the Stones’ 1965 US tour shown at that initial exhibition and those within “The Decca Years”, an exhibition which depicted the Rolling Stones evolution from chart rankers to leaders of the counter culture movement, have stunned audiences and were procured largely because of Prem’s dedication. A read of Keith Richards’ best-selling autobiography Life will prove that many of the photos are credited to ‘the Raj Prem collection’.
The exhibition portrays an exclusive collection of group and single portraits in both black and white and color, taken against a made setting by Webb at his North London Studio. One such example is the “Stones Rollin’,” which was a prelude to Peter Webb’s well-known ‘Falling Stones’ photo. The photo was branded as one of the top 100 Rock and Roll photos of all time by Q Magazine and will be on the front cover of the book with the same name — a distinctive volume that includes the same photographs shown in the exhibition. One more example is “The Big Yawn,” a photo in which Mick’s huge mouth is wide open, while Bill Wyman scratches his nose. Thanks to the focused efforts of Raj Prem, SFAE is a focused outlet for Peter Webb’s work in the US.