Billed as the “first ever major exhibition by (the group) and the largest touring exhibition of its kind ever to be staged”, “Exhibitionism” opens up the Stones world to fans — from their early, impoverished days sharing a rundown London flat in 1962 to backstage at their multimillion dollar concerts.
Instruments including guitars played by Richards and Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts’ drum kit are on display at London’s Saatchi Gallery alongside Jagger’s lyric book.
Some three years in the making, the display features more than 500 items from the band’s archives.
“Obviously it’s not infinite but it’s still going and we’re trying to push things that have never been,” Jagger, 72, told Reuters in an interview. “I don’t think there’s been anything like this (exhibition) before. I mean, I don’t know, I don’t think so. So, you know, still trying to push boundaries a bit.”
A similar sort of exhibition dedicated to David Bowie’s career opened in London in 2013, drawing huge crowds. Bowie died in January at age 69.
For those who have yet to see the Stones live, a re-creation of their concert backstage area — with makeup table, audio instructions, guitars — leads to a 3D experience of seeing the band rock on stage to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.
The exhibition also recreates the messy London flat Richards and Jagger shared with late founding band member Brian Jones, with dirty plates piled up and unmade beds.
“It’s an incredible walk through your own life, you know? For me, it’s quite emotional in a way,” Richards told Reuters.
Fans can also peek inside a Rolling Stones studio and see a selection of classic album covers, tour posters, Andy Warhol works and depictions of the band’s tongue-and-lips logo.
Their colourful fashion is also featured — from Watts’ 1966 tartan suit, to Jagger’s 1972 velvet jumpsuit, Richards’ 1994 antelope coat and Wood’s 2005 embroidered jacket — with many other elaborate concert outfits on display.
“There’s a magic that happens every time we get together for rehearsals, for a new tour, or when we go in the studio,” Wood said of the band’s enduring success.
The Stones just completed a Latin America tour, which ended with an historic concert in Cuba.
They are now aged in their late 60s and early 70s, and “a lot softer, a lot wiser” according to Watts, but have no plans to retire just yet.
“Hopefully…we’ll never give up. They’ll have to shovel us in the grave. We feel like we’re still evolving and I think you have to feel that way,” Richards said. “Every show that you do, you say the next one is going to be a little bit better.”
“Exhibitionism” runs at the Saatchi Gallery from April 5 to Sept. 4, after which it will tour 11 cities around the world over a four-year period.