Massive 60s and 70s Rock Photo Archive Hits The Auction Block

The Who 1965
September 2015 -  Backstage Auctions is proud to present one of the most historic rock photo archive auctions featuring thousands of vintage images of the British music scene from the 1960s and 1970s.

The collection consists of well over 20,000 historic negatives, slides and transparencies featuring some of the most iconic musicians and bands of all time. Almost exclusively comprised of film from the 1960s and 1970s, this material comes direct from John Halsall and was once part of the core archive of a London based photo agency. After having been professionally stored for the past 35 years, the world can now witness the unearthing of a visually magnificent and historically significant archive that has no equal.

This collection is divided in just under 500 individual lots and will be offered with a full transfer of rights, which makes this material not only collectible but also commercially appealing and exceptionally valuable.

The Grateful Dead 1970
As with any high quality collection, this archive is well-represented by the various decades and genres that ultimately transformed and created the history of rock, pop and punk music.

From the 1950s the collection offers attractive lots by several of the Jazz, Pop and Country greats such as Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Charlie Mingus, Sidney Bechet, The Andrew Sisters, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley & The Comets and Gene Vincent.

Otis Redding 1966
The roaring 60s consume a large part of the auction. From teen heart-throbs such as the Bee Gees, Beach Boys, Dave Clark 5, Sonny & Cher and The Walker Brothers, to R&B giants such as James Brown, The Crystals, Martha & The Vendellas, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and The Supremes.

It is however the Rock & Roll portion that truly elevates this collection to peerless heights. In particular the thousands of never-before-seen photos of The Rolling Stones and The Who is what makes this archive one for the ages. 

Equally significant are lots by The Animals, The Band, Jeff Beck, The Byrds, Blind Faith, Cream, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, The Mamas & The Papas, The Move, Them and Pink Floyd.  

Mick Jagger 1964
Robert Plant 1979
The 1970s is the next decade that consumes the other large part of the auction, fueled by incredible collections from many of the A-List of Rock such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Mountain, New York Dolls, Sweet, Thin Lizzy, T. Rex and Frank Zappa

Complementing the diverse 70s are fantastic lots from the Punk era (Sex Pistols, The Clash, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Jam, The Stranglers), Pop giants (ABBA, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, The Police, Dire Straits) to the early days of Heavy-Metal (AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard).

The collection comes to a conclusion in the early 1980s with exceptional lots from some of the legendary New-Wave (The Tourists, Pretenders, Ian Dury), Ska (Madness) and Reggae (Peter Tosh) performers.

Sex Pistols March 21, 1977 with Sid Vicious at Notre Dame Hall - London
Rounding out the archive are several impressive festival collections (Isle of Wight, Knebworth, Reading, Bickershaw, Glad Rag Balls and others) to over 30 lots from various “Top of the Pops” and “Ready, Set, Go!”  television episodes aired between the mid-60s to 1982.

Collection Highlights

Highlighted below are what we consider to be the Top Five collections to be featured in the auction. Of course it was hard to pick just five, but read on and you will get a sense of why these collections are high on our list.

Rolling Stones 1965
The Rolling Stones - simply because of the sheer volume (almost 5,000 negatives) and the fact that 75% of it is dated between 1963 and 1969. It provides the a most comprehensive visual documentation of their TV appearances, live shows, formal and candid photo sessions and their years of touring.

The Who 1965
The Who - very much for the same reason as with The Stones.  With almost 3,000 negatives, of with more than half from the 60s, this collection presents an insight into their high profile and public lives. 

Cream 1969
Eric Clapton – and in particular the collection of photos of Cream and Blind Faith, which include highly illusive images of club shows, rehearsals and candid photo sessions. The many addition lots of Eric Clapton with Delaney & Bonnie, as well as his early years a solo artist makes this overall a most comprehensive collection of the vintage Clapton era.

Jimi Hendrix ca. 1966 UK
Professional Photo Shoot
Jimi Hendrix - just when one would think that every Hendrix photo that was ever made has already been discovered and seen by ‘the world’, this archive offers 175 jaw-dropping new images, from photo sessions and candid moments, to TV appearances, rehearsals and live shows.

The 5th artist is a true toss-up between Pink Floyd (for the Syd Barrett content), Otis Redding (for the amazing live and backstage photos of several of his U.K. shows) and Black Sabbath (because it documents the first few years of their career through a series of stunning photo sessions and live shows).

Collections worthy of more than a quick glance

The Jeff Beck Group 1967 with Rod Steward and Ron Wood
The Jeff Beck Group 1967 with Rod
Stewart and Ron Wood
What comes to mind initially is a collection of almost 800 Rolling Stones negatives (!) taken from their first tour of Ireland, which lasted exactly 3 days (January 6-8, 1965). To take that many photos means that you have documented nearly every plane, train and bus ride, hotel stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner, rehearsal and concert, dressing room and backstage moment from that tour…and this collection in fact has done just that.

The second is more an ‘angle’ than a specific artist. Perhaps the most unique element of this archive is that it captures so many ‘big name’ artists at a time when they were so young. And with that comes the other aspect…so many of the photos are deeply personal as they show these artists at home, in their backyard, on the road, in a dressing room, even in the hospital. What stands out – and we could do a great photo collage – is;

•         Keith Moon at home with wife & kids
•         Bill Wyman at home with wife & kids
•         Pete Townshend visiting his manager’s office
•         The Bee Gees at home with wives / girlfriends
•         Jimi Hendrix in rehearsal
•         Cream on the couch of their management office
•         Mick Jagger looking at a "peeking" fan 
•         Otis Redding getting ready for a show in London
•         Marc Bolan and his girlfriend with newborn son 
•         David Bowie on the floor in his apartment
•         Jeff Beck with his buddies (Stewart and Wood) 
•         Johnny Cash with wife & son
•         Roy Orbison with wife & son
•         Ozzy Osbourne dropping his pants  
•         Sonny & Cher in the worlds most "dizziest" outfits  
•         Diana Ross & The Supremes first UK visit
•         Mama Cass Elliot in her London hotel room
•         George Martin (The Beatles producer) at home

David Bowie ca. 1969
About John Halsall

John Halsall started London Features and was formed in 1969 and initially began as a tool for the syndication of John's

John Halsall - London Features Press Pass 1974
personal freelance articles and the photographs taken by his photographer/ co-director. By the 1970s it because apparent that, as far as rock music was concerned, London had become the Capital of the World and many of the foreign publications that had used Halsall as their foreign correspondent were either opening their own offices in London or financing a London based staff.

As time passed, the need for Halsall’s interviewing and writing obligations diminished but the need for on the ground photographers was growing, so LFI (London Features International) added photographers, opened additional dark rooms and a proper studio, and soon came into its own as an established agency.

Halsall interviewing Carl Wilson
of the Beach Boys in 1973
LFI became the largest agency in its field and the competition conceded; most sold their collections to LFI complete with rights as did many independent photographers. Halsall, being a businessman first, recognized the value and opportunity in the images and began to personally purchase the collections and assimilate them into the LFI library. 

Decades later, LFI became the victim of the “digital revolution” and the rise of such well funded giants as Getty and Shutterstock.  LFI was sold in 2005 and Halsall retired along with his amazing library of images. The collection being presented at auction is the personal collection and historical archive of John Halsall.

Auction Information

The Photo Archive Auction will have a special VIP Preview beginning on September 19th, 2015. The bidding will begin on September 26th and run through October 4th, 2015.

To register for your All Access VIP Auction Pass click here:  VIP REGISTRATION

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