A Visual History of The Rolling Stones Documented in a Beautiful, 450-Page Photo Book by Taschen

There is a cer­tain look that screams rock ‘n’ roll—one part out­law bik­er, one part psy­che­del­ic magi­cian, one part pimp, one part cir­cus per­former…. But where did it come from? We could trace it back to Link Wray, Lit­tle Richard, Elvis, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. But the Rolling Stones refined and per­fect­ed the look, as they refined and per­fect­ed the slurred, sham­bling bar­room blues that became a sig­na­ture sound at their peak. Even punks who reject­ed the rock star image couldn’t help look­ing like Kei­th Richards at times. It’s unavoid­able. The Bea­t­les turned rock into immac­u­late cham­ber pop. The Stones turned it into pure, raw, greasy sleaze, and bless them for it.

“Ear­ly on,” says pho­tog­ra­ph­er Ethan Rus­sell, who pho­tographed them dur­ing 1969 and 1972 tours, “the Rolling Stones had this phe­nom­e­nal edgi­ness in their image, and they were able to car­ry it into the age of imagery and stay out in front of it. The way the Stones have inhab­it­ed their images is one rea­son they have been able to stay a rel­e­vant act over all these years.”

For the band’s 50th anniver­sary in 2012, they came up with the idea of a mas­sive pho­to book with Taschen that col­lects hun­dreds of pho­tographs from the span of their career. The pho­tos “range from the Stones’ nascent days as blues-crazed boy musi­cians in hound­stooth jack­ets,” notes The New York Times, “to their most recent years as the leather-faced but styl­ish­ly ven­er­a­ble elders of rock ‘n’ roll.”

The book also charts the band’s line­up changes along the way, cap­tur­ing bril­liant and trag­ic Bri­an Jones, under­rat­ed Mick Tay­lor, and under­stat­ed Bill Wyman, who left in the ear­ly 90s. Over the years, a cou­ple dozen famous pho­tog­ra­phers have immor­tal­ized them: David Bai­ley, Herb Ritts, Peter Beard, Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Annie Lei­bovitz, Gered Mankowitz, Cecil Beat­on, Anton Cor­bi­jn, and so many more—all rep­re­sent­ed here in glo­ri­ous full-col­or spreads. The over 500-page book also includes essays from writ­ers like David Dal­ton, Walde­mar Januszczak, and Luc Sante and an appen­dix with a time­line, discog­ra­phy, and bios of the pho­tog­ra­phers.

The Rolling Stones also fea­tures images from the Stones’ archives in New York and Lon­don, adding “an equal­ly extra­or­di­nary, more pri­vate side to their sto­ry,” writes Taschen. First pub­lished in 2012, the book will soon be reis­sued in an updat­ed edi­tion for 2020. Need a gift for the Stones super­fan in your life? Con­sid­er a ring­ing endorse­ment from anoth­er rock star, Antho­ny Bour­dain, who called the book his favorite: “icon­ic then, icon­ic now,” says Bour­dain, “they wrote the book on what it meant to be rock stars: how to look, dress, behave.… They were the first rock and roll aris­to­crats.” Pick up a copy of Taschen’s The Rolling Stones on Ama­zon.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch the Rolling Stones Play “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” While Social Dis­tanc­ing in Quar­an­tine

The Rolling Stones Release a Long Lost Track Fea­tur­ing Led Zeppelin’s Jim­my Page

The Rolling Stones Release a Time­ly Track, “Liv­ing in a Ghost Town”: Their First New Music in Eight Years

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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