23rd March – 5th May 2024

 A Captivating Exhibition by Brian Aris Unveils Rare and Unseen Images of The Rolling Stones in the Early 1980s

As seen on BBC 1  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cx8zpg51vlno

Guardian Review https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2024/mar/28/rare-and-raw-never-before-seen-rolling-stones-in-pictures

Music enthusiasts and art aficionados alike are in for a treat this spring with the opening of the exhibition Rare Stones. Curated in a collaboration between renowned photographer Brian Aris and the Lucy Bell Gallery, the exhibition showcases never-before-seen images of the legendary Rolling Stones during their iconic early ‘80s era.

Brian Aris, celebrated for his exceptional eye for detail and his ability to capture the essence of his subjects, unveils this collection of rare and unseen images that encapsulate the band’s raw energy, unparalleled charisma and enduring influence. Looking back over his many sessions with the group, he recalls:

“In 1981 I was invited to fly to Boston to photograph The Stones as they prepared to their upcoming world tour with rehearsals in a secret location deep in the New England countryside. I spent a week at Longview Farm, where a large barn had been converted into a state-of-the-art sound stage, together with live-in accommodation in various outbuildings within the compound, where the band staying, along with various family members.

I will never forget those nightly rehearsal sessions. They would start every evening at sundown, when the group’s regular accompanying pianist Ian Stewart, known as ‘the sixth Stone’, would get the proceedings underway by wandering onto the stage alone and playing amplified boogie woogie at full volume, which was like a clarion call to arms for the rest of the band. One by one, they would assemble. Bass guitarist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts would usually be the first to arrive, Charlie wandering in and settling behind his drum kit before picking up the beat, while Bill plugged in his guitar and started laying down a bass line. Keith and Ronnie would then appear, tuning up and joining in. Finally, Mick would stroll on stage and check the microphone. The extraordinary thing was that hardly any words would be exchanged up to this point. And then, once everybody was in place, and ready to roll, there would be a nod from Mick and they would launch into a warm-up session of classic up-tempo numbers.

To be present on these occasions was a rare and uniquely exhilarating experience.  I would go out in front of the stage with my camera, working with very fast film as there was very little light in the dimly lit building, all the time thinking how privileged I was to be there with an opportunity to capture The Stones in the raw, as it were. No fancy costumes or make up; no expensive lighting rig; just an amazing group of musicians really enjoying themselves and making great music.

Several other sessions followed – with the group as a whole and also with individual members. These included a trip to Paris, where the band was filming Undercover of the Night, and, later, Mick and David Bowie in concert together.  A one-to-one with Mick in Holborn Studios in London yielded an outstanding image highlighting the diamond he’d had set into one of his front teeth. Ronnie Wood, a talented painter, was pictured at work in his artist’s studio, and I also photographed the wedding when he and his first wife, Jo, were married.

Many of these images have never previously been seen, but with the band going out on tour this year –  ‘maybe for the last time, I don’t know’, to quote a line from one of their greatest hits! – it felt like this was a perfect opportunity to raid my archives and create some new prints to show at the Lucy Bell Gallery, as Rare Stones.”

Rare Stones promises to be a revealing exploration of The Rolling Stones’ enigmatic allure, offering fans and admirers an intimate glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most iconic bands of all time. Brian Aris’s unique access to the band during their early 80s era allows for an insider’s perspective, revealing candid moments and unseen facets of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman and others. The special chemistry that existed between them as artists, collaborators, and friends is revealed in photographs taken during the downtimes spent between writing and performing.

Touring to Photo London 16-19th May at Somerset House Room F07!