Corridors of fame

Corridors of fame

Anyone staying at the Queens Hotel, can’t help but notice the wonderful era defining images taken by the photographer known as ‘Mr Sixties’.

The black and white photos capture the glamour and full on rock n roll lifestyle of the swinging sixties and they are the work of celebrated photographer, Philip Townsend.

Credited with taking the first professional photos of the Rolling Stones, he also photographed the likes of Hollywood stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton along with aristocracy and scenes of Carnaby Street – the epicentre of cool in the sixties.

A close friendship with the Rolling Stones first producer Andrew Loog Oldham, allowed Philip to gain access to the group. He photographed the band around Chelsea and in one memorable shot, got them to wear check jackets – the opposite of their bad boy image.

Another memorable shoot involved the meeting of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with the Beatles in 1967. He captured candid shots of the band relaxing including Paul McCartney with his girlfriend Jane Asher.

It was still early in their career and the Beatles were accessible, allowing Philip to record elements of their life away from the stage.

A colourful character, Philip was once detained by notorious gangsters, the Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie, until his mother paid her gambling debt. He survived the experience and even went on to photograph the infamous brothers.

Philip died in 2016 at the age of 75. He worked as a photographer from 1960 to 1969 and his work is held at the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery.

21st January 2022