On show: Stones gui­tar, bro­ken eggshells, ash­trays and more

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Lon­don

It’s only rock ’n’ roll— but it isn’t, is it?

The music busi­ness is about com­merce as well as en­ter­tain­ment, and the Rolling Stones are one of its big­gest multi­na­tional firms.

There’s plenty of both art and busi­ness in Ex­hi­bi­tion­ism, a vast exhibition that cov­ers 1,850 square me­ters of Lon­don’s Saatchi Gallery with five decades of Stones his­tory.

The more than 500 ar­ti­facts, bor­rowed from the band’s ar­chive and from pri­vate col­lec­tors, in­clude mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, lyrics, sketches, film clips, out­fits, posters, al­bum art­work and stage de­signs. There is even a fake don­key.

From en­ter­tain­ing to ex­cess, the Stones rarely do things on a small scale.

“In the end, we had over 25,000 things to choose from,” says Aus­tralian rock promoter Tony Cochrane, the show’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer.

“I knew the Rolling Stones had a ware­house where they had kept a lot of their per­sonal ar­ti­facts, mem­o­ra­bilia, fa­mous in­stru­ments and the like,” he said on Mon­day, a day be­fore the show’s pub­lic open­ing. “But no one could have known how en­riched the col­lec­tion was.”

The re­sult is a trea­sure trove for fans, who­can ogle at ev­ery­thing from a maraboufeather cape Mick Jag­ger wore to sing Sym­pa­thy for the Devil to a Ma­ton gui­tar owned by Keith Richards whose neck fell off dur­ing the record­ing of Gimme Shel­ter (the song ends with a barely au­di­ble clunk).

Even ca­sual fans will likely be im­pressed by the exhibition’s at­ten­tion to de­tail. It opens with a life-size re­cre­ation of an apart­ment the band mem­bers shared from 1962-63 in Chelsea, a then­raf­f­ish, now-af­flu­ent Lon­don neigh­bor­hood.

“It was a hovel,” Richards says on a record­ing, and the re­cre­ation cap­tures the peel­ing wall­pa­per, mold-stained walls and un­made beds, dirty dishes, empty beer bot­tles, bro­ken eggshells and over­flow­ing ash­trays. It even smells.

Exhibition cu­ra­tor Ileen Gal­lagher says the band mem­bers were “pretty as­ton­ished” by the re­sult.

Another room fea­tures a recre­ated record­ing stu­dio, based on Olympic Stu­dios in Lon­don, where vis­i­tors can watch footage of the band at work and lis­ten to record­ings of the Stones and their col­lab­o­ra­tors talk­ing about the cre­ative process.

The exhibition’s strength is the space it gives to the band’s cre­ative part­ners, from back­ing vo­cal­ists and ses­sion play­ers to the artists and de­sign­ers who helped forge the Stones’ brand im­age and iconog­ra­phy.

And, of course, there fash­ion.

The Stones quickly left be­hind the match­ing checked jack­ets of the early ’60s to forge their own style, and the exhibition shows off many of Jag­ger’s more out­ra­geous fash­ion state­ments, in­clud­ing the white dress he wore at the band’s 1969Hyde Park con­cert and a pair of glit­tery ’70s jump­suits.

Ex­hi­bi­tion­ism runs through Sept 4, with an in­ter­na­tional tour planned to fol­low the Lon­don show.

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