michael josephThe Beggars Banquet at zebra one gallery

Michael Joseph

Michael Joseph


The Rolling Stones, The Beggars Banquet: Michael Joseph, The funny thing is that I’d had a virtual punch-up with the Rolling Stones just a few weeks before I did this photoshoot for their Beggars Banquet album in 1968.

The Milk Marketing Board had sent me up to Newcastle for a campaign, and the Stones happened to be staying at the same hotel. We’d just been to their concert, and were having a late dinner. They were sitting next to us. Various women were coming up to Mick Jagger and asking for his autograph. So my girlfriend, Julie – who became my wife of 55 years – went over, but she didn’t even get a chance to ask, because Mick just waved her away saying: “No, love, you’re too young.” I had my camera ready, but unfortunately I didn’t take a picture. That would have been fantastic, Mick waving his arms around

The next morning, the band were lounging around in the hotel foyer. To their evident annoyance I got my camera out and was about to snap them, but then their car arrived and they left before they had a chance to say to me: “Who do you think you are?” When I got chosen to do their album cover I was dreading the thought that Mick was going to recognise me, so I had my hair cut much shorter and changed my clothing.

I was known for doing group scenes – a shoot with up to 50 people became known as a “Michael Joseph” in the business – and my early shot of a boardroom for a White Horse whisky ad in 1965 had been used as a giant poster all over England. That was what got me the Beggars Banquet job. The shoot location was wonderful, up in Sarum Chase, in Hampstead, north London, where Frank O Salisbury, the Victorian society painter, had lived and worked.

The caretaker there – a very careful, grey-haired man – said: “So this is for the Rolling Stones?” I said: “Yes, I’m afraid they’re a bit wild.” He said: “No, that’s not a problem. But I’m a bit worried. Will there be any naked ladies?” And I said: “No, it’ll just be the band. Why, what’s the problem with naked ladies?” And he told me: “Well, for naked ladies, we charge £10 extra.”