Exile on King's Road

David Montgomery's Unseen Images of the Rolling Stones

“I must have needed my head examined—it just shows you how seriously I took it,” reflects photographer David Montgomery wryly, thinking about the £4 ($6) Kodak Instamatic he used to photograph the Rolling Stones outside a fish and chip shop on London’s King’s Road in 1971. He had spent a long night shooting the young Stones (with a Hasselblad) for promotional material for their imminent album, Sticky Fingers. With clothes variously cast aside, they had posed with the record’s iconic Andy Warhol cover—a close-up of a denim-clad crotch. Mick Jagger showed up to the studio four hours late and didn’t want to look at the camera, until Montgomery reminded him he wasn’t shooting for his own scrapbook. “But the rest of the members,” he says, “were just pussycats.” Brooklyn-born Montgomery moved to London in 1959, where he began a now legendary career taking portraits of everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Jimi Hendrix. In 1971 Montgomery had heard of the Rolling Stones, but says at the time “it was really just like any other job." In hindsight, he sees it differently: “I realize now that Mick—the bad boy—really was what everybody else wanted to be. Every fan of the Stones just wanted to be like that, to act and dress like that. But maybe they had a job in an insurance company, or were schoolteachers. They couldn’t be that flagrant, whereas these guys did it.” This month, Montgomery’s 1971 photographs—many previously unseen—will feature in The Rolling Stones: Against The Wall, an exhibition at Scream Gallery in London (run by Tyrone Wood, son of Ronnie).
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