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Legendary photographer Norman Seeff is set to unveil rare and unseen vintage photographs from his 1972 session with the Rolling Stones, staged prior to the release of the group’s masterpiece, Exile on Main St. The exhibition opens Saturday, May 14 and will run through Sunday, June 12, 2022 at the Rock Photography Museum Special Exhibition Space located at 123 Artsakh, in Glendale, California. Tickets for the opening night artist reception on May 14 are now available here for $25 with proceeds from ticket sales to go to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund and tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday gallery hours will be available for $10.

Along with over 30 vintage 16×20 photographs, the show will feature the original paste-up layout used to produce a set of postcards which were included with the original pressing of the album, originally released on May 12, 1972–50 years ago. The one-of-a-kind artifact, discovered during the pandemic in an archive box of discarded materials by Mary Ann Mattiello, Owner and Managing Director of Norman Seeff Photographic Archives, was inscribed by Mick Jagger with the group’s name and album title during the process of creating the album packaging. Mick’s handwriting was later used to complete the iconic Exile album cover.

“I art directed the Exile on Main Street album package with Jagger and John Van Hamersveld,” recalls Seeff. “Mick was very hands-on and the final decision maker. One afternoon, we asked him to hand-write the liner notes, which we pasted on to the layout. We created the album package design right there in that moment.”

The shoot was staged at an L.A. studio on a custom-built set designed to achieve Jagger’s vision of the group descending the ramp of a ship, “defecting” from the U.K. to France. The Stones famously had to flee England the previous year to avoid a massive tax bill which would have bankrupted them.

“So after working for eight years I discovered at the end that nobody had ever paid my taxes and I owed a fortune,” said Jagger in an interview with NME around the time of Exile’s release. “So then you have to leave the country. So I said fuck it, and left the country.” The group relocated to the French Riviera and recorded Exile in the basement of Keith Richards’ rented villa.

Seeff’s all-night photoshoot with the Stones, while chaotic – Bill Wyman was a no-show and had to be “played” by one of Seeff’s assistants – was a turning point in the photographer’s career. Shortly after, Norman left his position as art director at United Artists Records and opened his own studio where he went on to create iconic images of legendary artists such as Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, John Belushi, Tina Turner, Steve Martin, Carly Simon and Frank Zappa to name only a few.

In addition, the exhibition will also feature limited edition prints of The Rolling Stones from the Exile session for sale. Also, many of the rare photographs in the Fifty Years in Exile exhibition will be available for purchase. Mr. Seeff is available for interviews and will attend the exhibition opening.


Seeff Vintage Photos: Fifty Years in “Exile”

Rare and Unseen Photographs from the Exile on Main St. Session


May 14 through June 12, 2022

Ticketed opening artist reception on Saturday, May 14 at 7pm with press preview at 6pm

Exhibition Schedule Beginning May 15 through June 12:

Sun 11am – 4pm *

Mon Closed

Tue By Appointment

Wed 11am – 6pm

Thu 11am – 6pm

Fri 11am – 6pm *

Sat 11am – 8pm *

* indicates entry is ticketed at $10. All other days are free entry.


Rock Photography Museum Special Exhibition Space

123 N. Artsakh Ave, Glendale, CA 91206

(424) 245-0755


Ticket Information:


A former professional soccer player and emergency medical doctor in his native South Africa, Norman Seeff moved to New York in 1968 where he built a portfolio by photographing the people he met in the streets and bars of Manhattan. These included Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and Johnny Winter. After being introduced to the world of record covers by famed graphic designer Bob Cato, Seeff’s first assignment in 1970 brought him immediate recognition. Cato used Seeff’s shot of The Band at the Big Pink in Woodstock to create a poster inserted under the shrink-wrap of their “Stage Fright” album. This quickly became a collectors’ item and overnight, Seeff became an in demand ‘rock photographer. In 1971, Seeff was hired as Creative Director of United Artists Records and moved to Los Angeles. In the next two years, he received five Grammy nominations for cover design before opening an independent studio on Sunset Boulevard.

Seeff’s photographic sessions during the 70s and 80s became legendary and attracted audiences at each session. A celebration of creativity, spontaneity and raw energy, they were emotionally engaging experiences that resulted in images that reveal an authenticity that’s unique and timeless. Seeff’s creative interaction with artists inspired him to film his sessions beginning in 1975 with an Ike & Tina Turner session. Using the photo session as a vehicle for exploring the inner dynamics of the creative process with artists at work, Seeff retumed to photography and filmmaking in 1999 after a 10-year hiatus as TV commercials director. Today, he continues to capture intimate exchanges with artists and his 1000+ hours of unique filmed content is currently being prepared for release on a digital platform aimed at inspiring the creativity that’s in everyone.

“My fundamental approach is to not try and take photographs, but to create an authentic, honest relationship and document what unfolds. It’s all about creating the experience, because the experience evolves to the moment where whoever I’m photographing connects with their emotions and becomes truly present. The vitality of my images is a result of this process, and not trying to achieve a preconceived outcome. The challenge is to achieve the moment where the person I’m photographing is absolutely present and authentic. There is no self consciousness – they are no longer conscious of posing for a photograph.”

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A mutual friend suggested that Mary Ann Mattiello and Norman Seeff meet to see if there was any synergy for a possible business investment in 1999. After meeting Norman at his studio in Los Angeles about his work photographing and filming famous musicians, directors, writers and comedians, she decided to invest in Norman’s projects. The first project was forming a company, Norman Seeff Photographic Archives, LLC, in 2002, whose mission was to properly care for the entire collection of Norman’s vintage photos. The collection contains over 2500 photographs of the most influential cultural icons from the 1960’s (Andy Warhol, Patty Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe), 70’s (Aerosmith, Cher, Rolling Stones, James Taylor), and 80’s (Steve Jobs, Tina Turner, Billy Wilder). The photos have been stored at Hollywood Vaults and have been inventoried in a database. Norman Seeff vintage photos have been exhibited in Germany, New York, LA, Paris and London. 

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In 1993 Sweet Relief Musicians Fund was incorporated as a 501C3 nonprofit charity, and has since been offering vital assistance to professional musical artists in need. Sweet Relief is a resource for music industry professionals, providing emergency financial assistance and other forms of support to career musicians, road crew and anyone who makes the majority of their income in the music business. Sweet Relief was founded by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams in 1993. Victoria, while on a career-making tour with Neil Young was forced to drop off mid-schedule after experiencing unexplained debilitating symptoms. A long and painful diagnostic process revealed she had multiple sclerosis. After her diagnosis, a group of friends assembled an all-star album of Victoria’s songs, Sweet Relief, which alleviated much of her medical debt. Vic, aware that there were many musicians like her -unable to afford medical expenses and compromised in their ability to work- donated some of her proceeds from the album to found Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. The name of the fund derives from a song of Victoria’s, Opelousas (Sweet Relief) and the fact that we do provide sweet relief in the form of financial assistance to many musicians who would otherwise be in untenable predicaments.

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The Rock Photography Museum was co-founded in 2018 by Drew Evans of überEDITIONS, Steven Walker of Modern Rocks Gallery, grammy-winning art director Hugh Brown and director of the Perfect Exposure Gallery, Armando Arorizo. The mission of RPM is to present rare and unseen music photography in a museum rather than a gallery setting. “Currently, the only place you can see this type of work in physical reality is on the walls of the many excellent art galleries that specialize in selling fine art prints” says Evans. “Not every photo works as fine art though and we think there could and should be a place where the public can enjoy other material from the archives of these great photographers. The Rolling Stones artifacts discovered by Mary Ann are a great example of this. The Special Exhibition Space is a prototype or proof of concept if you will. We’re thrilled to be working with Norman Seeff Vintage Prints on this amazing exhibition.”

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