The late Bob Bonis would have secured his place in rock history merely for his day job, as U.S. tour manager for all three of The Beatles’ American tours and The Rolling Stones’ first five. But Bonis, an avid amateur photographer, leveraged that access — and his trusty Leica M3 camera — into a trove of roughly 3,500 all but unseen shots of the Beatles and Stones crisscrossing America on their way to global superstardom. Away from the media glare and bedlam of Beatlemania, Bonis — who died in 1992 at age 60 — captured moments including Paul McCartney jetting to a St. Louis, Mo., stadium show in 1966 and a Speedo-clad Mick Jagger relaxing poolside on the very same day he co-wrote “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
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“While The Beatles and The Stones are among the most photographed celebrities in history, there really are almost no photographs available to the public taken from an insider’s perspective,” says Larry Marion, curator of The Bob Bonis Archive. “These photos show them as real people.”
The images might have been lost to history if it weren’t for Marion, who, in 2008, with the help of the Bonis family, began assembling a collection from more than 5,000 never-before-published photographs stored in the Bonis family basement. Now, for the first time ever, a small selection of these images will become available to the public: 22 photos from The Bob Bonis Archive — curated by Billboard and certified as authentic by the Grammy Museum — will go on sale in limited editions at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles’ annual gala auction on Oct. 23. Or you can bid now, at BBBSLA.org.
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“These photos transport you back to that moment in time,” says Marion, “as if you were a fly on the wall — or The Beatles’ or The Rolling Stones’ tour manager.”
Click the image below to see the never-before-published photos of The Beatles and The Stones. And join the bidding online: Go to BBBSLA.org to enter a silent auction now or bid in the live auction happening Oct. 23 at the Big Bash Gala.
This story originally appeared in the Oct. 31 issue of Billboard.