…so Swedish photographer Larsåke Thuresson took his chance to grab an amazingly candid shot of The Beatles. It’s just one amazing image from a career shooting rock’s greatest stars.
A selection of never-before-published photos from Larsåke Thuresson’s 60s and 70s collection of music icons.
For years, Swedish photographer Larsåke Thuresson’s negatives from the 60s and 70s remained packed away in boxes in his home in Stockholm. Nobody would ever have seen these gems, had it not been for his two daughters who one day demanded their dad got himself a scanner.
From the early 60s to the mid-70s, Larsåke was a photographer working with record companies and promotion businesses, and through that he got close to many rock and pop stars. He loved music as well as photography, and became well-known on the music scene, in recording studios and backstage. Most artists didn’t even notice he was there, and he was free to roam and take photos as he pleased.
This intimate connection with the music world has resulted in a collection of around 65,000 photos, most of which have never been published.
After great deal of scanning work, his critically acclaimed 3.2kg(!) photobook Ikoner/Icons was published in Sweden. Written in both Swedish and English, it contains 660 carefully chosen photos that show music icons as you’ve never seen them before, some of which are printed on the next few pages.
The photos are treasures in their own right, but the collection is also something of a time capsule from a vibrant era. Not only did Larsåke take unusual snapshots of the artists themselves – many of whom were still in an early part of their career – he also pointed his camera at the people around them: the fans, the journalists, people they met in the street, chauffeurs, roadies. Unlike now, back then there were no bodyguards preventing Larsåke from getting close to his subjects. There wasn’t much competition photographically, either, as people doubted that this new type of ‘noisy music’ would even be played on the radio. There was no point documenting it, surely?
“The Beatles visited Sweden in 1964,” Larsåke recalls, “and there was a big media scrum on the runway, as these things were done back then. The Beatles had just come out of the plane’s front door and started their descent down the stairs. But as I approached, I noticed the back door of the plane was open… Instead of joining the other journalists and photographers, I took a chance and went up the back stairs, into the plane and walked through to the front entrance. I shouted at them: ‘Hello! Look this way!’ And they did. You can see Paul waving at me, and from this angle I also captured all the media people standing further down – many of whom also became legends, in their own right.”
Not many photographers would have been able to shoot relaxed photos of the Rolling Stones backstage, or The Who sleeping in their private plane. Or Bob Dylan playing silly buggers after a press conference. But Larsåke Thuresson did. On the next few pages are just a few of them…
“I was invited to follow The Who on their Scandinavian tour for a week. It was like being with good mates. The photo below is the group in the plane, going from Malmö in Sweden to a gig in Odense in Denmark. Band members to the left, instruments and equipment to the right, on this rather rickety aircraft.
“The shot above shows the state of the place after that Odense concert – the Danish manager (the man in the suit and glasses) was not happy!
“I remember the Customs people in Helsingborg [Sweden] being rather disappointed that they never found anything in the car and trailer when The Who were stopped on their way back to Sweden [photos right]. It was all quite innocent at the time. I jumped into the trailer and got a shot from inside, capturing the look on their faces.”
“Hendrix was fantastic, and had a totally new sound. I had never seen anyone before playing the guitar like he did – behind his head. I didn’t get what he was doing at first.
“The photo to the right is from a Jimi Hendrix concert at Gröna Lund in Stockholm in 1967. The host/presenter, Herman Möller, eventually became fed up with the ‘noisy music’. After having asked the group to stop playing several times, in vain, he simply pulled the plug and disconnected the electricity!
“The group then went on to play indoors at a nightclub, where I took this photo [above]. I also did an album cover for Jimi Hendrix and Curtis Knight, using one of my black-andwhite photos.
“In my book Ikoner/Icons there is an essay written by the former Swedish Minister for Education & Culture, Leif Pagrotsky. I think his little story illustrates quite well just how easy it was to approach musicians back in the sixties and how very different it is now.
“On May 19, 1967, a young Pagrotsky and his mate approached the guard outside the backstage entrance at the Concert Hall in Gothenburg – they had come up with a great idea on how to get in: ‘We’ve been sent out by our school paper to interview Jimi Hendrix, so we need to get in.’ ‘I see… Okay then,’ says the guard, and lets them in! Just like that. In a scruffy pantry, Jimi sits them down at his table and listens to all their questions, carefully answering them, kindly filling in words wherever their school English lets them down. That simply wouldn’t happen in today’s world.”
THE ROLLING STONES
“The band was in Sweden in 1966 for a concert at Kungliga Tennishallen [the Royal Tennis Hall]. I was allowed to hang around backstage in their ‘green room’, and they never seemed fed up with me or wanted me to leave. On the contrary, they were pleased to get some photos – after all, the photos gave them a lot of PR for both their tour and records.
“During their visit to Stockholm last year , I had a call from Tomas Ledin (another Swedish icon, also in the book). He was a party with the Stones. He had shown my book to Mick Jagger, who asked Tomas if he could please ask me if he could have a signed copy of my book. I brought a signed copy to him, and asked him to sign my book as well, which he did.
“I am currently collecting autographs of as many of the Icons in my book that I can get hold of. If possible I take a photo of them as well, posing with the book. As well as from Mick Jagger, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Simon, Benny Andersson and Agneta Fältskog have all written in my book, plus around thirty others. And there are still many more to come!”
“The Kinks played at Nalen in Stockholm in 1966, and they also appeared on a legendary Swedish TV show called Pop side [the Swedish equivalent of Ready, Steady, Go! or Top Of The Pops].
“It should really be quite difficult to identify the person in this photo, given that all you can actually see is just a mic and… hair, but strangely enough a lot of people immediately identify Janis Joplin when looking at this picture – even younger people.
“I took the photo in 1969 during a TV recording at the Narren Theatre at Gröna Lund in Stockholm. Most of the time when shooting bands during concerts and studio rehearsals, I used a quiet Leica camera, and I hardly ever used extra lighting.”
“This was taken at a fantastic concert of the master of blues on May 7, 1969 at Gröna Lund in Stockholm.”
THE BEATLES “On July 28, 1964, The Beatles visited Sweden for the second time and landed at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, ahead of their concert at Johanneshov Ice Stadium.”
Ikoner/Icons by Larsåke Thuresson is available now. For more information go to www.ikoner-icons.com/en/ about-the-book/Individual prints are also available for sale, for exhibitions or publishing – contact Larsåke’s agent in the UK: britt.warg@ googlemail.com