The Greatest Photo Ever...
This photo captivated me the first time I ever laid eyes on it on so many years ago. It is my all time favorite rock and roll photo ever. It was published as part of the photo collage’s that make up the double album artwork for the Rolling Stones masterpiece “Exile On Main Street”. This photo to me is more than a picture of some rock stars doing their thing. It embodies the very essence of collaboration, friendship, codependency, and love. To understand the magnificence of this photo, it helps to know the historical context under which it was taken.
The Rolling Stones were under going what some might describe as growing pains. They were emerging from their coddled existence within the warm bosom of the corrupt world of the record industry to an insular, and dare say paranoid life, of creative and financial independence. The band had just discovered that after selling countless millions in records and concert tickets they were flat broke. Cheated and swindled by so many of their most trusted “friends” and business associates. In addition to that pesky problem, a huge tax bill was coming due to Her Majesty’s Government on money they did not have. In order to avoid this payment and along with their entourage, they sequestered themselves to large estate in the South of France earning themselves the outlaw distinction of “Tax Exiles” from thier homeland. While the band had been together for some time up to this point, they were all reaching an age where each individual was developing their own unique personality and life away from the band. They still maintained some mutual friends, but after discovering how their “friends” had ripped them off and taken advantage of them in previous years, this circle grew quite small. I’m not sure this subset was any better of a positive influence.
The Stones had left much death and destruction in their wake already by the time Keith rented the mansion that would become their hideout for the next several months and being in such close quarters tension was building amongst the group as Mick made his movies, Keith did his drugs, and they all screwed each others women in a frenzy of self destructive behavior and decadent distraction. Despite all this, these two visionaries kept this strange bond through out it all and held the band together. A partnership that had a higher priority than anything else in their lives at that time including wives and drug habits. While their personality differences can certainly be pointed to as causes for future creative failures (see “Emotional Rescue”), for reasons known only to the gods, it only amplified the art they made in the basement of the Nelcote Estate that summer. These guys were, and still remain true blood brothers to this day and into their old age.
Many writers far more eloquent than I have dissected the relationship between these two men. For me, this picture tells the whole story with nothing more needing to be added.
I wonder if either of them has this picture hanging on a wall in their homes?