You can almost sense the jostling reverberations, the sudden drops and leaping steps, of ‘Hey Joe’, as your gaze is matched by Jimi’s in Gered Mankowitz’s pictures. Funnily enough, though, the guitar legend’s deft handiwork was largely unknown when Hendrix sauntered into his studio for the photo session in February 1967. “It was just before ‘Hey Joe’ was released in the UK,” Gered says. “He’d been brought over by [the producer] Chas Chandler in 1966 and it was all just about to happen for him – everything was to play for – so he was optimistic and happy. Actually, he was a quiet, almost humble person. “I can’t say I liked his music that much. Not at the time, anyway. But it was quite clear he was really special just in his appearance and charisma. He wore that look better than anyone else. It was fantastic to be able to photograph this fabulous looking, yet still vulnerable, man.”
Hendrix takes his place among a huge collection of portraits selected from Gered’s extraordinary 50 years working with rock stars. He’s lit and framed his way through rock-‘n’-roll, glam rock, punk, New Romanticism and Brit Pop to the present day. Sometimes film or advertising has lured him away but he’s always returned to working with musicians. In the late 1960s, this included a long relationship with the Rolling Stones, and Gered’s portraits and photographs encapsulate the swaggering insouciance they made their own.