We all talk about celebrity access now, but back in the ’60s, it was just taken for granted. As the Stones’ photographer, I was really with them – staying in the same hotels (my room next to theirs) and travelling in the same limos. I felt like one of the gang and nobody knew any other way of doing it.
I met Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager, at the end of 1964, after photographing my first big star Marianne Faithfull, who he also managed. He invited me to meet the Stones at their office in Gloucester Place in London.
I was just 17, only two years into the job, and like most of my contemporaries, I listened to the Beatles but I loved the Stones – they were rebellious and naughty.
Andrew asked me if I’d be the Stones’ official photographer on their American tour – for eight weeks in the autumn of 1965. So by the summer of 1966, when I was asked to shoot them at home, I’d known them for the best part of a year and we were friends.
The concept for the shoot came from a request from Les Perrin’s office. He was the top press agent in London and had been fielding enquiries from magazines for at-home-style pictures. The format hadn’t been properly established yet, not in the way that it is now by magazines such as Hello!, and I had certainly never done anything like it before.
Both Keith and Mick were moving into new places and had the builders in, so they were both a bit chaotic. Mick’s new home was a big mansion flat in Marylebone, which he shared with his then girlfriend, Chrissie Shrimpton [sister of model Jean] – there were packing cases everywhere and the television wasn’t even plugged in.
He had an amazing walk-in dressing room, where he had all his clothes for the shoot laid-out. There was a sofa, pushed against the wall, and some slightly odd-looking dolls, which might have been part of a collection that Chrissie had.
Mick was the only one of the band who changed clothes through the session. He was so into every detail and he would shout at the camera and tease it – Mick loved the camera.
Whereas Keith was very much in a lord of the manor frame of mind, showing off his beautiful house, Redlands, in West Sussex, where he lived alone.
It was a very spontaneous shoot, which is one of the reasons why Keith is sitting on a loo, as it was in the middle of the garden waiting to be installed. His dog jumped up into his arms and we did a few pictures – Keith on the throne – a mickey-taking picture really, so far removed from the carefully manicured pictures that you see today.
The photo of Charlie Watts (below) was taken at his very old, half-timbered cottage in Lewes, in East Sussex, which he shared with his wife Shirley.
She had just done some washing and then hung the underwear out on the clothes horse in the garden when I took his picture. Charlie’s laughing at the absurdity of being photographed standing beside his wife’s underwear.
My 57-year career went from strength to strength after this – my photos appearing in most major magazines and newspapers across the world. The ’70s ended well: shooting Kate Bush for her album The Kick Inside.
The picture caused a sensation, appearing on the front of all the buses, drawing vast crowds and subsequent traffic delays.
The Kick Inside went on to be in the charts for over a year and was one of Kate’s biggest-selling records. Along with these pictures, it will always be one of my favourites because of its simplicity and quiet intimacy – that’s the essence of a great portrait, I’d say.
Goin’ Home with The Rolling Stones ’66 (Reel Art Press, £19.95) is published on 29 October