Backstage With Paul: On The Bus With Keith Richards

In August of 1988, my next door neighbor, Don McLeese (who was the music critic for the Chicago Sun Times), asked me if I would like to go to New York with him the next day to shoot pictures while he interviewed Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. As Keith was one of my only idols, how could I say no?

I bought a plane ticket, and the next morning, packed and ready, we headed to the airport. Arriving in New York City, we checked into a hotel and proceeded to the office of Keith’s manager, around the corner. We walked in the door, and I crashed into Keith, who was heading to the restroom. Nice beginning to a relationship!

Keith Richards in September 22, 1987 in New York, NY.

Keith Richards in September 22, 1987 in New York, NY.

I set up in the corner of a conference room as Don proceeded to interview Keith. During the interview, Don asked him if he was going to tour with the band from the record. When Keith said yes, I filed that away in the back of my mind.

After the interview, I did a five-minute photo session, and we packed up and went home the next day.

When I got home, I developed the film and made some prints for the Sun Times. I made an extra set and sent them to Keith’s manager with a note that said, “Heard you guys are going out on the road. Call me if you need a photographer.”

Never expected to hear back, but the day before Thanksgiving, my phone rang. A voice on the other end said, “What are you doing tomorrow?” I answered that I thought I was going to my mother’s house for Thanksgiving, but I was told to pack up and fly to Atlanta, where I joined the Keith Richards and the Xpensive Winos tour and rode the bus with the guys for about a month, taking pictures all the way. As I had never been on the road to that point (might as well start at the top), it was a great learning experience, and a load of fun. Some great pictures came out of that trip, and it paved the way for more to come.

-Paul

About Paul Natkin

Paul Natkin learned photography in the trenches, working  with his father, the team photographer of the Chicago Bulls. He shot sports in the Chicago area for five years before he discovered music photography in 1976.

Since then, he has photographed most of the major music stars of the last half of the 20th century, shooting album covers for artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and Johnny Winter and magazine covers for Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen), Ebony (Tina Turner), People (Prince), and music magazines around the world. See his work online at natkin.net.

Cory Lorentz

Cory Lorentz is the Artist Relations Manager at Shure. He enjoys weekends, tacos and has a soft spot for the kind of lite rock music you’d hear in a dentist’s office.

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