Candid photos of the Rolling Stones on tour in 1972

Candid photos of the Rolling Stones on tour in 1972
A new edition of a seminal book brings together iconic images of the band onstage in their full glory and backstage in moments of unguarded camaraderie.

In 1972, the Rolling Stones had risen to new heights as the bad boys of rock ‘n roll. It was only fitting that their Exile on Main St. tour be documented by a photographer whose reputation matched their own – the legendary Jim Marshall (1936–2016).

“Jim had a reputation,” says Amelia Davis, Marshall’s longtime assistant and owner of the Jim Marshall Estate. Notorious for his love of cars, guns, and drugs – not to mention his take-no-prisoners attitude – Marshall had established himself as the leading music photographer of the times. 

Richards, Jagger, Taylor.

After getting his start documenting the San Francisco jazz scene in the late 1950s, Marshall quickly became ensconced with the city’s burgeoning counterculture scene of the 1960s. His iconic photos of everyone from John Coltrane to Jimi Hendrix helped shape ideas about music when it was still a radical force for social change. 

But, as Davis notes, more than anything else, Marshall considered himself a photojournalist. When LIFE magazine sent out word they were looking for an official photographer for the Stones tour, Marshall joined the throngs that submitted a portfolio of 10 images hoping for this plum assignment. “For Jim, to get the gig meant the world to him,” says Davis. 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic tour, which became the subject of Robert Frank’s 1979 documentary film, Cocksucker Blues, the Jim Marshall Estate has just released The Rolling Stones 1972 (Chronicle).

Backstage at the Forum, Los Angeles, California. Due to logistics and security concerns, the Stones stayed at the venue between the afternoon and evening shows on June 11

Jagger stretches backstage. To his right, tour manager Peter Rudge huddles with assistant Danny Arnold and Robert Frank

Over the course of the tour, Marshall shot it all, providing an insider’s look at intimate moments in the studio, the banality of backstage, and feverish scenes of the Stones letting loose on stage. Never one to miss out on a good time, Marshall partied along. 

“Jim did a shitload of cocaine,” says Davis. “One of the writers from LIFE complained [to the editors] that Jim was doing all this coke and they didn’t know what his photographs were going to look like. But of course, Jim’s photos were amazing. He was able to walk that line with the Stones.”

Although he had all-access, Marshall respected the people he photographed far too much to ever make incriminating or exploitative images that would pass as tabloid fodder. As a result, he earned the band’s trust; they knew they could be themselves without having to worry about being sold out.

Jolie Jones and Keith Richards on the plane back to Los Angeles

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Sunset Sound, the LA Recording Sessions, spring 1972

Marshall was far more interested in the Stones as musicians, artists, and men, creating portraits of Mick Jagger, Keith Edwards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman that showed more than their bad boy personas. 

“There were other photographers on the tour including Annie Leibowitz, Ethan Russell, and Ken Regan, but Jim was the only one to photograph quiet moments like Mick Jagger and Robert Frank on the plane,” says Davis. “Jim had all of these intimate moments among the chaos.” 

Looking back at these images, Davis says, “It’s a bygone era. You don’t get that kind of access on stadium tours. You’re never going to see people leaning on the stages and interacting with the band again. It was such a different time.”

Mick Jagger at a publicity photo shoot, spring 1972, Los Angeles, California

LA Recording Sessions

Keith Richards backstage at the Forum, Los Angeles, California

Keith Richards

LARecording Sessions

The Rolling Stones 1972 is out now on Chronicle. 

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor
Activism

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor

Groups and artists have been campaigning for Live Nation to drop the bank as a sponsor for Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight over alleged ties to the arms trade.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East
Outdoors

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East

New photo book ‘Football كرة القدم’ draws together pictures from over a dozen photographers to explore the region’s vibrant football culture.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes
Election 2024

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes

East London legend Crystal talks to Huck about her new campaign, Vote, Babes! which brings together over 20 drag artists to encourage young people to use their vote.

Written by: Ben Smoke

I interrupted Keir Starmer’s manifesto launch – here’s why
Election 2024

I interrupted Keir Starmer’s manifesto launch – here’s why

One of Starmer’s constituents, Alice tried every way to talk to her then MP about the crisis facing her generation, but he did not listen she writes exclusively for Huck.

Written by: Alice, Green New Deal Rising

Bashy: “My dad kept me alive”
Culture

Bashy: “My dad kept me alive”

In our latest Daddy Issues column, award winning actor and MC Ashley “Bashy” Thomas talks traditional masculinity, learning survival skills from his Dad and ‘making it’.

Written by: Robert Kazandjian

How communities of colour fought back
Election 2024

How communities of colour fought back

Micha Frazer-Carroll examines the challenges that the UK’s minoritised communities have faced over the last five years, and reports on the ways that they have come together to organise, support and uplift one another.

Written by: Micha Frazer-Carroll

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now