When the Rolling Stones first hit Vancouver on Dec. 1, 1965, the 5,400 fans at the Agrodome went wild.
So wild that The Vancouver Sun didn’t run any photographs of the band, it ran a photo of screaming teenage girls and the piles of benches that were smashed when fans surged toward the stage.
The prints of the photos from the Stones’ show have long vanished, and it was assumed the negatives were gone as well — The Sun has precious few negs from the 1960s.
But recently, I was down in our archives and came across a cache of ’60s negatives. Among them were the long-lost Stones pix, along with negs of a second Stones show on July 19, 1966, at The Forum. And they’re killer.
Ken Oakes photographed the ’65 show, and got some beautiful shots of the band, as well as some incredible crowd shots.
Oakes also photographed the ’66 show, along with George Diack. The crowd was smaller — The Sun said it was only 3,000 — but the fans were so raucous that The Sun ran a couple of crowd photos on the front page of the newspaper.
The headline was, “Screaming ‘Rock’ Fans Carried From Forum.”
“Thirty-six screaming, hysterical teenagers were carried bodily from the PNE Forum Tuesday night during a frenzied performance by the Rolling Stones,” said the July 20, 1966, story.
“Two youths were arrested on drunk charges during the rock ‘n’ roll show, and a juvenile may be charged later today with stealing a policeman’s hat.”
There isn’t anything in the story about the police pulling a male fan out by the hair, which was the main front-page photo. It looks pretty nasty — three cops are dragging the guy out, one on each arm and one in front, pulling him by the hair.
But that’s a news photo. For Stones fans, the coolest pics might be the backstage portraits Oakes took of the band in 1965. And they’ve never been seen.
One is a close-up of four of the five Stones — Brian Jones is missing. Keith Richards looks like he’s 14, and Mick Jagger looks like a teenybopper as well. (In fact, Keith was just shy of 22, which was Mick’s age at the time.)
The second portrait includes Jones and a rather attractive young woman who seems to have her eye on Mick. The band members still look young, but not quite as innocent — they have a bit of the Stones’ swagger. Jones looks older and a bit detached from the other band members — they’re grouped around each other, he’s facing the camera.
In the 1965 shots the band members are all clad in dark clothes save Mick, who’s wearing what The Sun’s ace fashion writer, Aleesha Harris, calls “dot-pattern trousers.”
Seven months later, the Stones had gone mod. Instead of wearing dark suits like a band uniform, everyone’s dressed differently — Mick has a floral coat and white pants, Jones has a striped jacket and white pants.
Diack took two photos of the mod Stones backstage, who were waiting around for a birthday cake. (Mick’s birthday was a week later.)
“I went backstage and they lined up in a row,” said Diack, 90. “I thought I could get an interesting picture of them blowing the candles out and stuff like that, but it didn’t materialize, (Mick) just stood there holding the cake. Everybody looked grim.”
Diack says he took a shot of Mick with a cake that eventually ran in the newspaper. But the negative isn’t in the folder, so it’s lost.
There aren’t a lot of onstage shots from either show. Diack said the police inspector at the concert didn’t want photographers to use their flash too much, because he feared “all these flashes going off could be exciting the crowd.”
In any event, when the fans started going nuts, Diack and Oakes pointed their cameras toward the crowd. Diack took an amazing shot of security bracing against fans that seem to be on the verge of overwhelming them.
There’s a hint of danger in the ’66 crowd shots that’s absent in the ’65 photos. My favourites are a trio of photos of a teenage girl in a sweater stretching her arms toward her heroes onstage, completely lost in the moment.
If she were 17 at the time, she’d be 68 or 69 today. I wonder what she remembers about the show, half-a-century later?
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