Renowned rock photographer Gered Mankowitz has just printed his half century in celluloid with a book called 50 Years of Rock and Roll Photography.
Inspired to take up the profession by Peter Sellers, he opened his first studio in 1964 and found himself at the centre of “Swinging London”, the birth of Cool Britannia.
He soon established himself as one of the most sought after music photographers, working with the Rolling Stones from 1964 to 67 and snapping the crème de la crème of British and American acts along the way.
It’s hard to image now but the British music scene at that time was in its infancy and there was no precedent or blueprint mapped out for the burgeoning musical uprising.
1963 was a pivotal year for Gered; he began taking his first pictures at the same time as the Mersey Beat sound was being birthed. The Beatles had just released their second studio album and were touring with Helen Shapiro — they were fourth on the bill of 11 acts.
The group trod onto American soil for the very first time in February of 1964, their stepping stone towards worldwide domination. This was an incredible achievement executed by a small number of creative individuals who were investing in the relatively new concept of “the teenager”.
Mankowitz was one of those early architects and creators of “Swinging London”, giving Britain a cool image that was marketed with incredible effect around the world; it was brand Britain.
He explains, “You didn't know what was happening. I think that a big part of it was that suddenly people of my generation felt empowered and that we had something to offer that the old establishment seemed to want.”
He continues, “The realisation that within the stifled established music business of the time, certain individuals knew that there was a huge market out there to capitalise on and we needed to tap into it. They needed communicators, photographers, designers and art directors, who were plugged in naturally to the environment. We were given this extraordinary power, even as early as 1963 we were laying down the blueprint to what was to become this huge worldwide industry.”