Norman Seeff - 50 Years in Exile

May 14 – June 12

Rare, Unseen, Vintage and NEW Photographs from
The Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. Session

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 Ave, in Glendale, California. Tickets for the opening night artist reception are now available for $25 with proceeds to go to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

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, includes a production overlay featuring Mick Jagger’s handwritten inscription “Rolling Stones Exile on Main St.” which 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 50 Years in Exile exhibition will be available for purchase.


May 14 – June 12

Rock Photography Museum
Special Exhibition Space
123 N Artsakh Ave

Glendale, CA 91206
(424) 245-0755

Regular Exhibition Hours
Sun – 11-4
Mon – Closed
Tue – By Appointment

Wed / Thu 11-6
Fri / Sat 11-8

Admission is Free