The Last Time (The First Time Mick Jagger & Keith Richards Write a Song Together)

“Well this could be the first time, this could be the first time we write our own tune, maybe the first time, I don’t know… Oh no, Oh no…”

The Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time” marked the beginning of the famed songwriting collaborations between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The single was released early in the Rolling Stones’ expansive discography, but the melody and undulating guitar riff continues to lilt its way throughout history.

On February 26, 1965, the Rolling Stones released the single “The Last Time” with the song “Play With Fire” on its B-side. The song was credited to Jagger and Richards, however, the wings of the duo that would also become known as the “Glimmer Twins” had not yet fully developed.

Inspired By Gospel

The song’s refrain is transparently similar to a 1958 song by The Staple Singers titled “This May Be the Last Time.” (The Staple Singers’ version can be heard by following this link.) Richards conceded to this in the 2009 book According to the Rolling Stones. He said, “We came up with ‘The Last Time’, which was basically re-adapting a traditional gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time.”

Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Ian Stewart during a recording session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, September 1965.

Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Ian Stewart during a recording session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, September 1965.

An article by independent news source The Conversation notes that “the story of [The Last Time] is one of admiration and imitation. It possessed stylistic flairs and influences that would ultimately foretell the band’s future stardom.” It wouldn’t be the last time gospel music would influence the Jagger-Richards songwriting duo, though, as it would become a recurring theme in their writing, as evident in the 1972 track “Shine a Light.”

It was recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California in January 1965 when the British Invasion was in full swing. On their home turf in the United Kingdom, “The Last Time” was the third Rolling Stones single to reach No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart. It spent three weeks in this top spot in March and early April of 1965, according to the reference book British Hit Singles & Albums.

The tune has remained a popular staple in the Rolling Stones’ musical canon and was performed routinely during the band’s 1965, 1966, and 1967 concert tours. The song was put into storage, though, until years later when it made a comeback during the Bridges to Babylon Tour in 1997 and 1998. It also appeared in some of the band’s performances during the 50 & Counting Tour in 2012 and 2013.

Not The Last Time You’ll Say “Cheese”

Bob Bonis didn’t keep track of how many times he heard the Rolling Stones play “The Last Time,” but it’s likely he had the ditty looping through his head while he served as their U.S. Tour manager for the Stones’ first five trips stateside (as well as for all three The Beatles’ American tours).

Bonis’ version of the tune, however, may have sounded something more like… “Well I told you once and I told you twice, that someone will have to pay the price… if you don’t sit still and smile for the Leica.”

Using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis practiced his passion for photography while the Stones played their passion on the stage. These sincere and historic photographs captured at the height of the British Invasion are available for the first time as strictly limited edition fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Would You Let Your Daughter Marry a Rolling Stone?

While teenage girls across the world were being sent into frenzies as The British Invasion reached American soil, parents everywhere were biting their nails, pondering the question – “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?”

It was the height of the ‘Invasion’ and the bad boys from England were preparing their first performance in Toronto, Canada, on April 25, 1965. Before the show, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news anchor Larry Zolf interviewed Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts for the program titled “This Hour Has Seven Days.”

According to the CBC, he asked the group about “screamies” (in reference to their fanatically vocal fans), and also accused the group members of being “vulgar, obstinate and hostile.” Most notably, though, he asked them about the already famous question, “How do you feel about being asked ‘Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?’” At the time, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, both married at the time, provided the living proof that someone’s daughters already had (Video footage of Zolf interviewing the Rolling Stones can be viewed here).

The Rolling Stones, Good Guys or Bad Boys?

Despite embracing their sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll reputation, the Stones’ careers didn’t begin with their signature bad boy image. Andrew Loog Oldham, manager and producer for the Rolling Stones from 1963 to 1967, was instrumental in setting the Stones apart from their mod-suit “nice-guys” counterparts The Beatles.

In an Ad-Week article featuring Oldham, he said, “The Beatles looked like they were in show business, and that was the important thing. And the important thing for the Rolling Stones was to look as if they were not.” Although the band initially dressed in uniform suits, the members drifted back to wearing casual clothes for public appearances.

After a recording session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 12-13, 1965, Bob Bonis captures this striking portrait of the Rolling Stones and their producer, Andrew Loog Oldham.

After a recording session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 12-13, 1965, Bob Bonis captured this striking portrait of the Rolling Stones and their producer, Andrew Loog Oldham.

Oldham had performed public relations work for folk-legend Bob Dylan, and even for The Beatles in the early 1960s. The Rolling Stones, however, were his blank canvas. With a history working in the fashion industry, Oldham “used that experience relentlessly as he crafted the band’s image – moving them first from the kind of matching outfits that The Beatles favored to their own, less uniform way of dressing,” reported Ad-Week.

Rock-n-Roll Reputation

In his 1990 book Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, Wyman reflected, “Our reputation and image as the Bad Boys came later, completely there, accidentally. Andrew [Loog Oldham] never did engineer it. He simply exploited it exhaustively.”

According to Ad-Week, Oldham played the role of art director as much as he did manager and producer. He had the band add “(I Can’t Get No)” to the song originally titled “Satisfaction” to elicit darker, perhaps naughtier connotations. Another subtle, yet effective, marketing move was the addition of the comma in the title of the song “Paint It, Black.” He said, “I just put a comma in there because I knew I would get calls from the record company saying, ‘Are you sure about this?’ And that would make them notice us.”

Oldham also directed the band’s album art, and advised that the band’s name not appear on their first self-titled album. He said, “That really was quite a feat. I told the record company, ‘You’re not getting the record until you agree.’” It was all part of his plan and creating an atmosphere of mysticism surrounding the members.

In the Limelight With Bob Bonis

While Oldham was choreographing how the boys appeared in public, Bob Bonis was also at work behind the scenes as U.S. Tour Manager for the Stones’ first five trips stateside between 1964 and 1966 (he also managed each of The Beatles’ American tours). Bonis didn’t dictate their image, rather he captured it on film.

With his Leica M3 camera ready-to-shoot, he documented the band at the height of the British Invasion, capturing candid and historic moments in their meteoric rise to fame. These never-before-released photographs are now available from the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Nobody (but the Rolling Stones) Follows James Brown!

Mick Jagger and James Brown meet for the first time back stage at the T.A.M.I. show on october 28, 1964

Less than two years after becoming a band and only two days into their second U.S. Tour, the boys from the Rolling Stones performed following soul legend James Brown, and the “Godfather of Soul” was not happy about it.

The Stones were scheduled to perform after James Brown at The T.A.M.I. Show (or Teenage Awards Music International), one of, if not the first concert film featuring multiple acts from popular rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues artists from the United States and England.

The concert was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964. Local high school students were given free tickets to the two shows and the best footage was edited into the film that was released on December 29, 1964.

The concerts showcased performances from classic artists such as The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and of course James Brown and the Rolling Stones. In 2006 the U.S. Library of Congress deemed the recording “culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically significant” enough to be preserved in the National Film Registry.

Tough Act to Follow

The Stones, however, were apprehensive about their place in the concert line up and came to regret performing after James Brown. In the 2003 book According to the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger explained, “We weren’t actually following James Brown because there was considerable time between the filming of each section. Nevertheless, he was still very annoyed about it…”

Two dates into the second-ever U.S. Tour, the Rolling Stones performed in Santa Monica, California for The T.A.M.I. Show movie. october 28, 1964 photo bob bonis

Two dates into the second-ever U.S. Tour, the Rolling Stones performed in Santa Monica, California for The T.A.M.I. Show movie.

Before his performance, Brown was backstage and in a rage, shouting something along the lines of: “Nobody follows James Brown!” at the show’s director, Steve Binder.

As reported by The New Yorker, the Rolling Stones were painfully aware of how Brown mastered the stage, and during his performance “they watched him from the wings, just twenty feet away, and, as they did, they grew sick with anxiety.”

Remember, the Stones were new on the scene and James Brown was already a mega-star.

In the DVD notes of The T.A.M.I. Show Collector’s Edition, Keith Richards said that choosing to perform after James Brown & The Furious Flames was the biggest mistake of their careers. No matter how well they could perform, there was no possible way they could outshine the “Godfather.” In his memoir Brown recalls the T.A.M.I. performance: “We did a bunch of songs, nonstop, like always … I don’t think I ever danced so hard in my life, and I don’t think they’d ever seen a man move that fast.”

Getting’ On Up

But the boys from London with a keen interest in rhythm and blues set their apprehensions aside and followed Marvin Gaye’s instructions: “Just go out there and do your best.” Welcomed by screaming fans, they rocked out to a set list including covers of “Around and Around” by Chuck Berry and “It’s All Over Now” by Bobby Womack.

Brown eventually warmed up to Jagger, though, and they got to talking to each other backstage. In an interview with Variety, Jagger said, “[James] was very generous and kind with me and he wasn’t kind with everybody. I really appreciated that. I always studied him and the way he moved, the way he always gave his best and always changed up his style.”

The iconic meeting of the two musical legends was captured by Bob Bonis and his faithful Leica M3 camera while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for the Stones, a role he assumed for their first five trips to the States between 1964 and 1966 (and for all three of The Beatles’ U.S. Tours as well).

This moment and other previously unreleased photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

5 Keefacts About Keith Richards

Keith Richards is a man who needs no lengthy introduction. Ranked number four on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists, he is credited with writing “rock’s greatest single body of riffs” on guitar.

As one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, he’s lived life – and lived it hard – in the spotlight, and somewhat privately.  We all know Keith the pirate.  We know Keith the prankster. We know Keith the immortal (he’ll probably outlive most of us); but did you know Richards used to live in a villa that was occupied by Nazi soldiers during WWII? Or that he once almost burned down the Playboy mansion? A rich life is bound to have a few hidden gems, so here are five facts about Keith Richards that may have fallen through the cracks:

Keef the Boy Scout

In his autobiography, Keith Richards said, “Scouting was a separate thing from music. I wanted to know how to survive … how to find out where I am … how to cook something underground.” However, he did admit that young Keef mostly just took it as “chance to swagger around with a knife on your belt.” But, perhaps longingly, he added, “You didn’t get the knife until you got a few badges.”

Hey! You! Get off of my stage!

During the Stones’ December 18, 1981 concert in Hampton, Virginia, a fan rushed on to the stage, prompting Keith Richards to protect the sanctity of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Richards paused his performance in favor of turning his ‘axe’ into a weapon of self-defense. In Mark Blake’s book Stone Me: The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards, Keef said, “What if he had a gun in his hand or a knife? I mean, he might be a fan, he might be a nutter, and he’s on my turf. I’m gonna chop the mother down!”

Kieth Richards plays guitar during a Rolling Stones rehearsal and recording session of backing tracks for an appearance on the popular TV show Shindig on May 18 and 19 at TCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 18-19, 1965.

Kieth Richards plays guitar during a Rolling Stones rehearsal and recording session of backing tracks for an appearance on the popular TV show Shindig on May 18 and 19 at TCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 18-19, 1965.

Who needs sleep? Not Keith Richards

In Keith Richards’ autobiography Life, he said that on average, he would only sleep two nights a week during the band’s peak of fame. Running the numbers, he said, “This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes.” Even when he did sleep, though, music was still on his mind. As reported by Rolling Stone magazine, Keith has said in interviews that his famous riff from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” came to him in a dream.

Whatever you do, don’t touch his Shepherd’s Pie

In Keith’s circles it’s a well-known fact that he takes his Shepherd’s Pie very seriously. He demands it while on tour and has his own set of rules when it comes to his pies. Late Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable recalled a tense situation involving Keith’s pies in his book Demons And Cocktails. He said, “We were backstage when I saw the pie. Like an excited 10-year-old at Christmas and I whacked several hefty spoonfuls onto my plate.” Luckily, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood stepped in and quickly had it re-crusted by the waiting staff, but not after a waitress bemoaned, “Don’t you know the rules?”

Jumpin’ Jack… the gardener?

Just a year after an infamous and controversy-surrounded drug bust at the same country-house location, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Richards’ Redlands home while jamming in the early morning hours, according to volume 2 of the Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. It was raining heavily outside and Jagger heard the sound of rubber boots thumping by. It was Richards’ gardener, Jack Dyer. Jagger asked what the sound was and Richards replied, “Oh, that’s Jack. That’s Jumpin’ Jack.” As the duo played around with the tune singing “Jumpin’ Jack,” Jagger shouted “Flash!” and shortly thereafter, the hit single was deemed the Stones’ return to their blues roots after their unsuccessful foray into psychedelia.

Bob Bonis might not have captured any Shepherd’s Pie thieves on film, yet he did snap a plethora of other honest, less obsessive, but equally powerful moments of Keith, Mick, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman while serving as the Stones’ U.S. Tour Manager on their first five trips stateside between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for The Beatles on all three on their U.S. tours).

With his Leica M3 always at the ready, Bonis documented the Stones’ indelible contribution to the British Invasion as it hit American shores and created a tsunami of musical, cultural and popular style changes that rolled coast to coast. These never before seen photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Bill Wyman: Jumpin’ Jack [Of All Trades] Flash

Bill Wyman, born William George Perks, seen with fellow Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Image by Bob Bonis

Bill Wyman may have begun his career in The Rolling Stones as a bit of a misfit, but what he lacked in comradery with his fellow band members he compensated for with a variety of interests and talents outside the world of rock-n-roll.

According to Wyman’s website, he auditioned for the Rolling Stones on December 7, 1962, and played his first gig with them shortly after. The group was initially impressed with his instrument and an amplifier he built himself. Besides playing bass, Wyman also provided backing vocals on early records and live shows.

But when he joined the band at age 26, he was 7 years older than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Additionally, he was married and employed, causing him to feel like an outsider within the band.

While he didn’t exactly sync with the antics of the rest of the group, he proved himself to be an eclectic individual, and later on, a valuable archivist of the Stones’ early years.

In a 2013 interview, he said he began collecting Rolling Stones memorabilia, such as press clippings and tickets, because he had an eight-month-old son at the time and wanted to document that point in his life.

Bill Wyman with Biran Jones and Mick Jagger rehearsing in studio for a Rolling Stones appearance on TV show Shindig. Image by Bob Bonis

Bill Wyman with Biran Jones and Mick Jagger rehearsing in studio for a Rolling Stones appearance on the TV show “Shindig.”

He said, “The band wasn’t slightly interested in collecting anything and they thought I was an idiot for doing it. But they don’t think [so] anymore.” But, scrapbooking and journaling came naturally to Wyman. He kept a journal throughout his childhood, beginning during the years following WWII. Some of this writing was used in his 1990 autobiography Stone Alone and his 2002 book Rolling with the Stones.

He wrote that his childhood was “scarred by poverty,” which subsequently lent itself to the ingenuity he applied to his varying interests. For example, prior to his tryout with the Stones, he had been performing music around London with a fretless bass that he customized himself.

This ingenuity also led him to design, market and patent the “Bill Wyman Signature Metal Detector.” Wyman has been metal detecting as a hobby for years and has amassed an extensive collection of ancient coins dating from years 1100AD to 1836AD. Some of his discoveries have even been donated to museums.

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Wyman said, “I’ve always been interested in multiple things since I was a teenager. I’ve always been interested in ancient cultures, archaeology, astronomy, photography, art – and as I grew up, I tried to learn more and embellish those things by reading books and [watching] documentaries and films.”

Because of his inherent interest in photography since a youngster, Wyman has become a highly proficient photographer and his works have been featured in galleries across the globe. The subjects of his photographs, not surprisingly, are mostly of fellow musicians. However, in an unlikely friendship, he focused his keen eye on the works and life of Russian-French artist Marc Chagall, released in the limited edition book Wyman Shoots Chagall.

From 1964 to 1966, while Bob Bonis was serving as U.S. Tour Manager for the Rollings Stones on their first five trips stateside (as well as for all three of The Beatles’ American tours), Wyman watched as Bonis engaged his own passion for photography. With his Leica M3 primed and ready to capture the next moment in rock-n-roll history, it’s easy to imagine the adult Bonis and Wyman talking shop while the kids played. We would have loved to be a fly on those walls.

The iconic and intimate photographs captured by Bonis during these years are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Reaching For The Guitars: Happy Birthday Keith Richards!

Keith Richards at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 12-13, 1965. Photo captured by Bob Bonis who served as US Tour Manager for The Rolling Stones and The Beatles between 1964 and 1966.

On December 18, 1943, the rock-n-roll gods willed Keith Richards into existence and guided him along the path that would lead him to The Rolling Stones and to become one of world’s greatest guitarists.

Keith, an only child, was born in Kent, England, to Doris and Herbert Richards, a factory worker dad who was injured in World War II during the Normandy Invasion, according to the book Keith Richards: The Biography. Although his father saw little value to music, Keith’s grandfather took an opposite and more playful approach to encouraging the rock-n-roll-tot.

Keith’s grandfather, ‘Gus’ Dupree, toured England with a jazz big band, which helped pique Keith’s infatuation with music and the sound of a six string. During an October 25, 2015, BBC Radio program, Keith said his grandfather ‘teased’ him with a guitar he had placed on a shelf out of little Keith’s reach. Then Gus offered him a deal: if Keith could reach the guitar, it was his.

Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart at RCA studios in Hollywood, California, September 1965. Image captured by Bob Bonis while serving as US Tour Manager for the Rolling Stones between 1964 and 1966.

And so, with destiny just out of reach, Keith set off on the task of devising a way to reach the guitar. After finding a chair, and the subsequent books and couch cushions needed to reach the prize, Keith reached the peak victorious. But there was a catch: learning the rudiments of Keith’s first tune, ‘Malaguena,’ a classical tune which had become a popular jazz song.

After practicing the number “like mad,” Keith’s grandfather let him keep the guitar. Now, with “the prize of the century” in his grasp, Keith practiced at home, becoming familiar with world renowned artists such as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

As the years passed and as he grew older, Keef began to focus less on his formal education and more on playing guitar. By the year 1959, he could play most of the solos performed by blues legend Chuck Berry.  Not long after, Keith, along with his friends Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, and Charlie Watts, began playing together in the group that would soon become The Rolling Stones.

In a 1986 Guitar World Magazine article, Stewart said that Keith was without a doubt the band’s leader. Keith’s job was to keep the band working as a finely tuned machine, to which Bill Wyman commented that while most bands follow their drummer, there is “no way of not following” Keith’s lead.

Over the years, Keith’s signature “guitar weaving,” or the interplay between lead and rhythm guitars, graced the world with one hit song after another. With Keith driving the beat and Jagger singing to the crowd, the world class songwriting duo wrote 14 songs featured in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The magazine also ranked him fourth on its list of 100 best guitarists, adding that Keith is to thank for “rock’s greatest single body of [guitar] riffs.”

From 1964 to 1966, Bob Bonis had the honor of serving as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Rolling Stone’s first five trips across the pond (as well as all three U.S. Beatles tours). Armed with a passion for photography and his Leica M3 camera, Bonis captured the band in their honest, behind the scene moments.

These intimate, and often iconic photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Keith Richards, we wish you Happy Birthday and a sincere thank you for your years of contribution to the world of music, rock-n-roll, and killer guitar riffs. Here’s to many more!  Party on Keef!

We Don’t Miss John Lennon Only On The Anniversary Of His Assassination

 Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

John Lennon

October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980

On the anniversary of John Lennon’s killing, every fan page and newspaper, every music blog and every related website commemorated his life and his passing.  But we realized that this homage should not be limited to the actual anniversary date of this horrific act only, but that true Beatles fans, Lennon fans and most real human beings miss John – as they should – every day.  Thus, our take on this infamous event, a few days later.

As John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment at the Dakota on December 8, 1980, a killer lurked in the shadows, waiting for the right moment.

Lennon and Ono were returning from the recording studio where they were mixing Ono’s song “Walking on Thin Ice,” which featured Lennon on guitar. “John and I were gloriously happy in the first week of December. In our minds, we were a team – old soldiers,” Ono recalled to British newspaper The Daily Mirror.

Going Home

John Lennon back stage at The Club House, Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966. Photograph by Bob Bonis and reprinted by the Bob Bonis Archive.

As they passed the small autograph-seeking crowd gathered outside their building’s entrance, Mark David Chapman, who Lennon had signed an autograph for hours earlier, stepped out from the archway in which he was hiding and raised his revolver, aiming directly at Lennon’s back. Five shots cracked into the night. One of the .38 Special’s hollow point bullets missed, two hit Lennon in the left side of his back, and two penetrated his left shoulder.

Police arrived on the scene within minutes to find Lennon lying in the lobby bleeding profusely. Outside they found Chapman waiting calmly for his arrest, holding a copy of J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel A Catcher In The Rye. In the book he had written, “This Is My Statement.” He signed it Holden Caulfield, the story’s protagonist, which had become a cultural icon of rebellion and angst.

The Mirror reports that upon realizing the severity of Lennon’s wounds, officers placed him in the back seat of a squad car and rushed him to a hospital; they did not believe he would make it if they had to wait for an ambulance. But upon arrival, Lennon’s pulse and breathing had stopped. Attempts to resuscitate him proved futile, the damage sustained and the volume of blood lost was simply too great. Shortly after 11 p.m., Lennon was pronounced dead. And the world changed forever.

Worldwide Mourning

The death of Lennon, one of the most iconic and outspoken Beatles, rocked the earth to its core. Fans poured into the public to share their grief. The world had watched his mind blossom with each new Beatles hit. Following the breakup, they listened to him espouse love and world peace with his solo projects and public protests. His murder left an indelible scar on the realm of music, and the hope for a better world.

Chapman had been a devout Beatles fan, but Lennon’s increasingly controversial statements, such as how The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, would come into direct conflict with his religious beliefs and his perceptions of reality. In a 2001 article, author Lynne H. Schultz quotes Chapman as saying, “At that point, my mind was going through a total blackness of anger and rage.” As his disgust with society continued to fester, so did his obsession with killing Lennon.

Lennon’s remains were cremated, but no funeral was held. A week after his death, at the request of Yoko Ono, millions of people around the world took pause for ten minutes in silent reflection of Lennon. The New York Times reported that thirty thousand people gathered in Liverpool, but over 225,000 occupied New York’s Central Park to remember Lennon while every radio in the city went silent.

In the time before the trial, Chapman underwent extensive psychiatric evaluations and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Although he was encouraged to enter an insanity plea, Chapman opted for a guilty plea and was sentenced to 20 years to life with the possibility of parole. He has been denied parole eight times and remains incarcerated to this day.

Early Years

Bob Bonis had the pleasure to know John Lennon while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles (as well as for The Rolling Stones) during all three of their American tours between 1964 and 1966. With his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis captured never seen before moments of John Lennon and The Beatles as they grew under the watchful eye of the world. His photographs chronicle the years of the band’s rise to fame, and snapshots of the moments leading up to Lennon becoming the musician, activist, and icon the world fell in love with.

These iconic and intimate photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

John Lennon: although your life ended at the hands of insanity, and way too early, your message of peace and love still rings clear, and you live on in our hearts day after day. We miss you constantly. Your music and your messages changed the world forever; thank you for your unequalled contribution to peace.

Down the Rabbit Hole: LSD, the CIA and The Rolling Stones

They were strange days all around as the Vietnam War marched on and The Rolling Stones gave rhythm to a blooming counterculture, evolving social norms, and dangerous civil unrest.

To quell the rising movements in opposition to the war, the Central Intelligence Agency and British Security Service MI6 carried out secret illegal (and immoral), covert experiments to explore mind control techniques for use in espionage, warfare, and population control. Most of the subjects involved were never informed they were being used in these experiments.

Project MK-Ultra, often referred to as the CIA’s mind control program, was extremely broad in scope, but the experiments conducted with LSD, or “acid,” were some of the most notable, and disturbing. While Keith Richards and Brian Jones would end up trying the drug with a little help from their friends, but according to author John L. Potash, Mick Jagger needed a little coaxing from an undercover British Intelligence asset.

Keith, Brian and The Merry Pranksters

Richards and Jones were first introduced to LSD while The Stones were winding down their fourth American tour. At the same time, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey and his troupe of Merry Pranksters were ramping up their historic Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test parties, promoting the use of such psychedelic drugs.

Outside the Stones’ concert in San Jose on December, 4, 1965, the Pranksters passed out handbills, trying to capture the frenzied energy created by the Stones, inviting the concertgoers to the second ever Acid Test. Although the band didn’t attend the Test, Stones bassist Bill Wyman wrote in his book Stone Alone that after the tour’s final show in Los Angeles the next day, “Keith and Brian took LSD at a party given by the writer Ken Kesey and his followers [The Merry Pranksters].”

Mick Jagger, though, fell into a different, bizarre, and covertly sinister rabbit hole. Much to the chagrin of the CIA, he had successfully resisted taking the drug until February of 1967. Some experts argued that LSD could be effectively used to disarm radical political beliefs. As a result, both the CIA and the MI6 used various methods of manipulating and controlling popular music to influence its listeners: the millions of youth in opposition of the Vietnam War.

Operation ‘Get Mick High’ is a Go!

In Drugs as Against Weapons Against Us, author John L. Potash explains that by glamorizing drug use with music from bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Project MK-Ultra could create a bandwagon effect, increasing drug use while decreasing commitment to political beliefs. Prior to 1967, Jagger unwittingly dealt a blow to the plot by publicly defending himself against false claims of using the drug.

But Jagger’s actions would soon be corrected. The morning after a party held at Richard’s English estate, guests who stayed the night (including Jagger, George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd) were offered a special LSD-laced tea by David Schneidermann, a known drug dealer working for British Intelligence and the FBI.

Potash writes the group was tripping all day, and later on, hashish was added to the party. But that evening, the house got raided by police and both Jagger and Richards were arrested and imprisoned on drug charges, which were later appealed. The mission, though, had been accomplished.

Identity Confirmed

Through a web of covert operations and agencies, Schneidermann admitted he was linked to the MK-Ultra program and its plot to manipulate mass populations with drug use. Potash notes that during this time, the CIA and British Intelligence were in the process of bringing LSD into England and were actively trying to introduce the drug to musicians.

In 2010, London newspaper The Daily Mail confirmed that Schneidermann did indeed work as an undercover operative to set up Richards and Jagger for the drug bust. The raid and the ensuing court case proved the band used drugs, subconsciously coaxing fans to imitate their idols by turning on, tuning in, and dropping their radical beliefs.

While serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Rolling Stones (as well as for The Beatles) between 1964 and 1966, Bob Bonis had the rare privilege and unrestricted access to witness band’s non-drug antics. He was uniquely positioned to build a friendship with the band and to watch them wander down the occasional rabbit hole. He captured candid, historic, and never before seen moments on film. But instead of a spy camera, he had his trusty Leica M3 strapped to his hip.

These photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints, from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE! To buy your very own and to share a piece of true rock history, click here.

All Of Our Guitars Gently Weep

I think people who truly can live a life in music are telling the world, ‘You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don’t need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it’s the very best, and it’s the part I give most willingly.

George Harrison

February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001

On November 29, 2001, 14 years ago today, beloved member of The Beatles – George Harrison succumbed to the effects of lung cancer and passed away at the age of 58.

He was often referred to as “the quiet Beatle,” and while Paul McCartney and John Lennon shared most of the spotlight, he was often regarded to be the group’s most mindful and spiritual member.

Harrison, the youngest of The Beatles, played lead guitar and wrote iconic songs such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Taxman” and “Something” (which has become the Beatles’ second-most-covered song).

He died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles with his wife Olivia and son Dhani by his side. In a statement, his family said, “He left the world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends.”

Harrison’s guitar style, a mix of the blues and early rock-n-roll, gave The Beatles’ music an unmistakable place in the world and in history. Those close to the group say that he greatly influenced McCartney and Lennon as they grew as writers, becoming more poetic, complex, and relevant to current events of the time.

Untitled picture2

Following the breakup of The Beatles, Harrison continued to make music as a solo artist and released several best-selling singles and albums. Later on, he co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Rolling Stone ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He is also a two-time Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductee, once as a member of The Beatles in 1988, and posthumously for his solo work in 2004.

While he continued to release music, NPR reports that Harrison “slowly withdrew from the spotlight over the ensuing years.” Those close to him said that rather than living a life of stardom, he became more interested in his private life and had a passion for cars and working in his garden.

In 1998 Harrison was successfully treated for throat cancer, which he attributed to his smoking habit. Only a few years later he would battle cancer again. Upon disclosure to the public, Harrison told his fans not to worry about him as he was not afraid of death and was at peace.

As reported by the New York Times, McCartney told reporters in London, “He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother.” Ringo Starr said, “We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter.”

Bob Bonis was fortunate enough to know Harrison and to watch him grow as a person while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles on all three of their U.S. tours (and also for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips to the states). While Bonis was on tour with The Beatles, his Leica M3 camera was always ready to shoot, capturing some of the most genuine, candid and personal moments of George Harrison and his fellow Beatles.

These photographs are now available from The Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is available as strictly limited edition fine art prints. Every print comes hand numbered, estate embossed, and includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. To buy one of these iconic and historically important photographs, and to memorialize a rock-n-roll superstar, visit the George Harrison gallery by clicking here.

George Harrison: despite being the quietest Beatle, the mark you made on this world and the music you left continue to resonate with history and will carry on well into the future. May you rest in peace knowing you left this world a better place.  Our guitars gently weep for you yet.

With a Little Help From Their Friends: Writing “I Wanna Be Your Man”

In their early years, The Rolling Stones got by with a little help from their friends – The Beatles. The Stones had been together for less than a year and a half and were just beginning to build their following. It was a point in time before Mick Jagger and Keith Richards discovered their potential as a songwriting duo.

In November, 1963, the Rolling Stones released their second single, “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which peaked at number 12 on the British pop charts. It was released only as a single and never appeared on a studio album. Although the song helped to solidify their presence in the world of rock-n-roll music, it was actually written by their fellow British Invaders, Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

The hit single would be the result of a chance encounter between Lennon, McCartney and Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ manager, producer and former Beatles publicist. In Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones, musician and author Bill Janovitz wrote, “Oldham had almost literally bumped into Lennon and McCartney as they stepped out of a cab. He invited them to the studio where the Stones were rehearsing and, right then and there, the two finished off what had been a McCartney sketch of an idea, handing it to the Stones for their single.”

John Lennon Paul McCartney Bob Bonis Archive

In 1968, Jagger commented on the song, saying, “We knew The Beatles by then and we were rehearsing and Oldham brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune, they were really hustlers then. I mean the way they used to hustle tunes was great: ‘Hey Mick, we’ve got this great song.’ So they played it and we thought it sounded pretty commercial, which is what we were looking for…”

Stones bassist Bill Wyman said the band adapted the song to their style and learned it rather quickly “because there wasn’t that much to learn.” Guitarist and Stones founder Brian Jones incorporated slide guitar into the song, and Wyman provided the driving rhythm and blues beat. Wyman said doing that made the song more “dirty” as they “completely turned the song around and made it much more tough, Stones and [blues] like.”

Years later, however, both bands looked back on the song on a different light. Perhaps as a testament to their growth as artists, both Lennon and Jagger recognized the song for what it was: a catchy pop song and not much more. Reflecting on the song, Jagger said, “I haven’t heard it for ages but it must be pretty freaky because nobody really produced it. It was completely crackers, but it was a hit and sounded great onstage.”

The Beatles released their version of the song three weeks after the Stones on their second UK album, With the Beatles. In the book All We Are Saying, Lennon brushed the song off by saying, “It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were for Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it: We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?”

By the time Bob Bonis became the band’s U.S. Tour Manager in 1964, though, Jagger and Richards had already moved on to writing their own songs. Before then, the Stones’ catalog consisted of mostly R&B covers. Jagger and Richards would later confess that watching Lennon and McCartney work that day gave them a greater understanding of how to write a song, a talent now proven many times over.

Bonis served as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Rolling Stones) on their first five trips to the U.S. from 1964 to 1966, as well as being U.S. Tour Manager for all 3 of The Beatles U.S. Tours throughout that period. During his time as Tour Manager, he captured intimate, unguarded and often iconic moments of both bands as they rose to stardom.

These photographs are now available for the first time as strictly limited editions fine art prints from The Bob Bonis Archive at BobBonis.com. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. Live.

There are no products