Early in 1989, I read an article in Rolling Stone that said that the Stones were going out on tour later in the year. I sent the same letter to Keith’s manager that I had sent the year before, “Heard you guys are going out on the road. Call me if you need a photographer.”
August came, and she called me and asked me to come to Philadelphia to shoot rehearsals for the tour. I arrived at Veteren’s Stadium and was given a private three hour concert with the Rolling Stones… me, the crew and a few stragglers sitting on the 50 yard line. I was able to go anywhere I wanted to go, including going up on stage and photographing the band while walking among them. I went home figuring that I had reached the peak of my career. What could be better than that?
A month into the tour, Keith’s manager called me and asked me to come to Boston the next day… come to the Ritz Carlton, and call when I got there. I was instructed to bring my luggage to a room at the hotel, where I was issued luggage tags and a laminated pass for the tour and was told to wait for the vans in the lobby. At 2 pm, six vans pulled up. I was instructed to get in one, and when they were full, we took off for Foxboro Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, for my first Rolling Stones show as a tour photographer. I was given total access, and told to head backstage right before the last song of the encore, where I got in a van. The band left the stage, got in a few of the vans and a police escort took us out to Logan Airport, where we boarded a private jet and headed to Birmingham, Alabama, where someone was waiting at the base of the stairs with our room keys for that nights lodging. Pretty great first day!
I was supposed to be on the tour for a month, and three weeks into it I was called to one of the manager’s room, YIKES! It was like going to the principal’s office. I got there to find both managers and the tour publicist. They said, “We have a problem. The band really likes you and your pictures are great. Could you stay on for the rest of the tour?” Nice problem to have! I agreed and spent the next two and a half months flying around the country (and in and out of Canada twice) with the Stones. During that time, I met Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, had dinner at a party in LA with Bruce Springsteen, and played doubles pool (Keith and I against Eric Clapton and David Bowie. They kicked our butts).
Since that time I have done a month on the Voodoo Lounge Tour and a month on the Bridges To Babylon Tour. All in all, a great time!
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.