back to top

These Photos Show Iconic Rock Stars Looking Flawless Back In The Day

Strike a pose.

Posted on

Photographer Gered Mankowitz has been photographing rock stars for 50 years, helping to create the image of musical legends like Annie Lennox, the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Elton John, Oasis, Wham!, and more.

Mankowitz's favourites of his own portraits are included in a new release of his book Rock and Roll Photography. Here are some of the best, from a flawless Kate Bush to a sun-bronzed George Michael, along with quotes from Mankowitz, both from his book and in conversation with BuzzFeed.

"When I first heard Kate's single 'Wuthering Heights' I knew that her record company needed a really strong portrait to support this strange and enchanting music," Mankowitz said.

"Her interest in dance inspired me to suggest that she wear dancers' practice gear and she looked wonderful! She was frenetic and exhausting to work with but endlessly rewarding!"

Advertisement

"[Jimi Hendrix] had tremendous power and charisma and took to the fashions of the day like a duck to water!"

"Agnetha was charming, very sexy and photogenic – we had a lovely session together."

Advertisement


"I worked with Phil and his first band, who were called Flaming Youth, in 1969. ... [I then] worked with Genesis on several occasions and it was always thanks to Phil that the photos had any life and energy."

"This was pretty early in the band's career and before they made it really huge. Cerys [Matthews] was obviously a 'star' and had terrific charisma and was very photogenic ... She rather overshadowed the rest of the band and trying to get them to project a suitable mood was a bit tricky!"

"'Leather Jacket Demos' [below] was shot in Hilversum, Netherlands, where [Elton] was recording the album [called Leather Jackets] – and, as you can see, Elton and the band went mad with the costumes!

"No one really recognizes that image as Elton. I don't think he's very threatening [as a Hell's Angel], although he's trying very hard. I think a couple of the band make good Hell's Angels. It was a funny, theatrical idea, they got into it. It's very tongue-in-cheek, camp and theatrical."

Advertisement

"Kim was fabulous, very beautiful. I did a lot of pictures with her in the late '70s."

"I've done more sessions with Slade than I've done with any band, around 30 shoots, almost all of their album covers.

"Their career lasted a long time, but when they peaked, they were absolutely genius. This particular picture was done when they were preparing to take America by storm, which never really came off."

"[In this picture] Suzi Quatro is at the front enticing you, and her band are at the back saying 'don't you dare!'.

"I wanted to get across a slight kinkiness, a smell of leather, but I had to be subtle about it because it was for the front page of the NME."

In Mankowitz' book Annie Lennox describes how this shoot for the cover of Reality Effect, the second album by her band the Tourists, came about:

A set would be built to resemble a living room, with a table and five chairs positioned in the centre. Everything would be painted white ... and we would start to gradually introduce small splashes of primary colours, in the form of liquid gouache paint. ... Gered handed out tubes of paint: yellow, blue, green, red.

[Guitarist] Peet Coombe was given the blue tube. The cover of Reality Effect is predominantly blue. He was just so inebriated by the time we got to the "gradual colour" bit that he just ... well... things got blue very quickly, you might say.

After the Tourists split up in 1980, Annie Lennox formed Eurythmics with fellow ex-Tourist Dave Stewart. "Annie was glorious in front of the camera and Dave was the perfect visual foil," Mankovitz remembers.

"My last session with them was for the Revenge [album] cover and was shot in Paris. After I delivered the session Dave told me that they were to have a painting made of the of the shots for the final cover. I was terribly disappointed and we never worked together again."

"Toyah is a real performer, she developed these extraordinary visual identities that sort of related to her music was saying at that time. This look of flaming hair, punk-priestess, was a portrait intended to present her confrontational power."

"I shot this for the cover of Smash Hits magazine and it proved to be one of their most popular covers. Wham! had just had a hit with 'Club Tropicana' and the session was in mid-summer, hence the beach theme!

"I think there was quite a split amongst the fans on who they liked most: George or Andrew. So I did this as a magazine cover but also as a pullout poster, where you could turn the poster around if you were an Andrew fan, and have him at the top; these things were carefully thought about. Or you could have George at the top. The one you most fancied could be looking at you."


Advertisement

Promoted

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss