Henry Diltz recalls his experiences photographing The Rolling Stones

Henry Diltz seemingly photographed just about everybody who was anybody in the music scene of the late 1960s and 1970s. Here he shares, in his own words, his recollections of working with The Rolling Stones.

“The Rolling Stones’ music is a part of all of our lives. When I hear “I can’t get no satisfaction,” it immediately sends me back to those early days Personally, I was more of a Beatles fan, but The Stones, along with The Byrds and The Beach Boys, figured hugely in the soundtrack of my life in the ’60s.

Keith Richards New Barbarians Henry Diltz photo

Keith Richards waits, booze and bag in hand, at an airport in the Midwest while on tour with The New Barbarians in 1979. Henry Diltz photo.

“I photographed one Stones concert in L.A. in ‘69; it was very exciting, but I didn’t have any backstage connection.

“In 1970, I went to Amsterdam with Stephen Stills to visit The Stones’ lighting and stage manager Chip Monck. There I got to hang out in the dressing room and stand onstage during the concert, and I took pictures the whole time. That was a bit more exciting and eye opening.

“But my best experience with The Stones was when I went on tour in 1979 with Ron Wood’s solo group, The New Barbarians. Keith Richards was in the band, as was Ian McLagan, Bobby Keys and Stanley Clarke. I got to hang out constantly for three weeks on their plane, in their limos, in their hotels and dressing rooms, shooting photos all the while. That was my first chance to really get next to these guys. It was just like a Stones tour except that Mick wasn’t there, so there was a certain looseness and freedom because the boss was absent.

“The first sound check I attended, I heard Keith play one chord on his guitar. It was so warm and so filling, and I knew at that moment that this was the true essence of The Rolling Stones’ sound. I grew to like and admire these guys very much, and they grew to trust me in their midst as soon as they realized I was a fly-on-the-wall-documentor and not a fan or a guy trying to be their buddy.

“All during the ’60s and ’70s, as I was taking thousands of photos of my friends in the music business. I never once thought, “Someday I will have a huge historical archive that will hang in galleries and museums and be sought after by all the world’s media.” To me, every day was just another adventure doing what I loved to do, surrounded by music.
In the early days, none of us ever envisioned The Stones in their late ’60s, up on stage being better than ever, but that’s what has happened.

“It seems that many of the musical acts that came out of the ’60s are still the best acts going. Maybe that’s because it was original in those days, and everything after has been a copy of all of that.”

Thank you one and all. I remain yours,
— Henry Diltz

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