Newsweek Magazine Blog

- Feb 26, 2009

Never-Before-Seen Beatles, Rolling Stones Photos to Hit Gallery

by Sarah Ball

It could be just another Facebook vacation-photo album: a bunch of 20-something guys draped over a few beach chairs, knocking back some fruity-looking drinks and clowning for the camera. The captions could read "Spring Break '09." Instead, some of the photos could carry price tags with strings of zeros.

This isn't a posse of frat brothers: they're the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, horsing around on vacation, on tour and backstage, as seen in a recently discovered cache of 3,500 photos, 48 of which will be shown starting March 4 at the Not Fade Away gallery in New York's Chelsea. The rare, extremely valuable find comes from the personal collection of the late Bob Bonis, a small-time talent agent who got lucky and landed gigs managing the stateside tours of the two bands from 1964 to 1966. The trust and confidence he earned from the bands is immediately evident from the snapshots, in which Mick Jagger drops his slim trousers and John Lennon grimaces comically at the lens. "[T]he word iconic can get overused, but that's a great description of these," says Beatles expert and former music journalist Steve Marinucci. "Rare Beatle photos show up all the time, but not usually in this quality."

The pics surfaced a year ago when Bob's son Alex lugged a duffel bag full of his father's memorabilia in to music appraiser Larry Marion, and in passing showed him a three-ring binder of contact sheets. When Alex casually said he had more where that came from, Marion was shocked: the oversized shoebox that Alex later brought in contained thousands of negatives, most in pristine condition in their glassine envelopes; the majority of the shots had never been used to make prints. "[My father] never bragged about it—I wasn't raised with 'Do you know who I am?' and all that stuff," says Alex. "I mean, he went to all my baseball games."

After a few prints from the photo stash—plus the memorabilia—did well at auction last spring, the pair decided to put the rest on display, and Marion founded Not Fade Away to house them. "We've all seen them posing millions of times," Marion says. "Sometimes it's nice to see them just give the finger with a drink in their hand." Cheers, mate.

Click here to see some of the lost Stones and Beatles photos!

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