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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Stoned contraband

Two unusual items of Rolling Stones memorabilia come to the market

 

Just as the Rolling Stones performed in Hyde Park this weekend gone, Peter Harrington in London’s Fulham Road brought two unusual items of memorabilia relating to the band to the market. The first, a silver gelatine print, is by legendary photographer John Stoddart and the second is a theatre quality print of Robert Frank’s banned documentary Cocksucker Blues.

 

John Stoddart's triptych of the Rolling Stones taken for their 1989 'Steel Wheels' tour in the window of Peter Harrington
John Stoddart’s triptych of the Rolling Stones taken for their 1989 ‘Steel Wheels’ tour in the window of Peter Harrington

The £25,000 copy of "Cocksucker Blues"
The £25,000 copy of “Cocksucker Blues”

Stoddart’s image, which has recently been displayed in the dealer’s window, is a triptych that was commissioned in 1989 to promote the Stones’ 1989 Steel Wheels tour. A signed edition of twenty, the image features Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood and is priced at £2,500.

 

For £25,000, collectors and fans could also obtain a rare copy of what Peter Harrington describe as “what is surely the most famous, or notorious, unseen film of all time”, Cocksucker Blues. Directed by the noted still photographer Robert Frank and produced by Marshall Chess, the footage was commissioned to chronicle the Rolling Stones’ North American tour in 1972 in support of their album Exile on Main Street.

 

Shot as cinéma vérité (‘truthful cinema’) and conceived as “a tribute to the band on the road at their most satanically majestic”, the film didn’t quite go to plan. With cameras left around for members of the band’s entourage to pick up and shoot at will, what emerged were shots of a groupie in a hotel room injecting heroin, Mick Jagger snorting cocaine backstage and the Stones “with their defenses down”.

 

As a result and to avoid embarrassment being caused by it being screened, the Rolling Stones rapidly injuncted the film and it came under a court order which forbade it from being shown no more than four times a year in an “archival setting” where Frank had to be physically present.

 

Consequently and though bootleg copies of the film have circulated amongst fans, the copy available through Peter Harrington is extremely rare. Consisting of the original 4 reel 18mm print in a fibreboard carrying case with metal furniture, a plastic carrying handle and original canvas retaining strap, the print comes in its original box with 1970s BOAC and BEA flight tags still attached.

 

 

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