Philip Townsend’s own life reads like a picaresque novel. His well-born mother inherited a fortune in trust but spent a lifetime trying to prise it from the clutches of reluctant trustees. She blagged money ostensibly for the welfare of her six children but used it instead to feed her gambling habit. Philip, the youngest, trailed in her wake to most of the casinos in Europe, waiting outside while she worked the gaming tables – or they worked her. He attended 27 different schools and lived in a succession of houses because the fees and the rents were never paid.

In one of those fortuitous encounters which have peppered his life, the teenage Townsend teamed up with Lord Christopher Thynne, brother of the Marquess of Bath, and the two toffs toured the country photographing young debutantes. A year later he was working for Tatler magazine, and by the age of 20 he was an agency stringer based in the South of France.

Over the next two years he photographed the beautiful people who wintered and watered on the Riviera: Prince Rainier and his Hollywood wife, Princess Grace; a rare photo of Sir Winston Churchill with Aristotle Onassis; Marlon Brando and Joan Fontaine. Years later, when the sixties were losing their swing, he returned to capture a memorable shot of a visibly out-of-love Richard Burton at a party with Elizabeth Taylor. Townsend was always much more than a party snapper: he had a journalist’s flair for a good story. When Rex Harrison was marrying for the fourth time, to actress Kay Kendall, Townsend door-stepped his home in France and followed him to Italy, eventually bagging a picture which earned him one of many highly paid exclusives in the Daily Express.

A Limited Edition Photograph

Signed & Numbered by Philip Townsend

An edition of 50

It has been said that while the Beatles, whom Townsend also photographed in their first flush of fame, were bad boys turned good through the influence of their late manager Brian Epstein, the Stones were goodies who became stage baddies. Their first manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who has remained a lifelong, off-on friend, instructed Townsend to make them look “cruel, tough and streetwise”.

 

1963

A Limited Edition Silver Bromide Photograph

16x20" | 20x24" | 24x36"

Susannah York (9 January 1939 – 15 January 2011) was an English film, stage and television actress. Her appearances in various hit films of the 1960’s formed the basis of her international reputation,and an obituary in The Telegraph characterised her as “the blue-eyed English rose with the china-white skin and cupid lips who epitomised the sensuality of the Swinging Sixties.

A Limited Edition Photograph

Signed & Numbered by Philip Townsend

An edition of 50

Nico (born Christa Päffgen; 16 October 1938 – 18 July 1988) was a German singer-songwriter, lyricist, composer, musician, fashion model, and actress who became famous as a Warhol superstar in the 1960’s. She is known for her vocals on The Velvet Underground’s début album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), and her work as a solo artist. She also had roles in several films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and Andy Warhol’s, Chelsea girls (1966).

A Limited Edition Photograph

Signed & Numbered by Philip Townsend

An edition of 50

“Helga Schramm was the first bunny of the Playboy Club in Park Lane, London. She was born in Germany but soon left and was asked to come to London by Victor Lownes, head of Playboy Club in Europe to train the bunnys. While working there she met Scott Walker and translated a lot of Jacques Brel songs which he used in his next career as a more serious songwriter and performer. In the bio film ’30 Century Man’ he said he had a one night stand with Helga. Helga replied “How could I have translated lots of song in one night?”. – Philip Townsend.

A Limited Edition Photograph

Signed & Numbered by Philip Townsend

An edition of 50

Sure enough, he came up trumps with the Rolling Stones, five fresh faced lads breaking into the music scene.

Townsend’s first encounter with the band was a memorable one, most notably for a young Mick Jagger’s demands.

The young singer, who was only 19, complained of being hungry and made the photographer head to a local barbecue to pick up chicken before the shoot could start.

1962

20x24"

A Limited Edition Photograph

Signed & Numbered by Philip Townsend

An edition of 50

The Swinging Sixties produced two of the most enduring bands ever: The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Celebrity photographer Philip Townsend got up close to the excitement of the era, and took many iconic images of the sixties. Townsend is thought to captured the very first picture of the Rolling Stones ever taken, shortly after they formed in 1962.

A chance meeting in Monte Carlo with Andrew Loog Oldham, the band’s first manager, led the celebrity photographer to land the first ever snaps of the rockers.

Recalling his encounter with the teenage Loog Oldham, Townsend said: “He told me ‘I’m going to back to England, I’m going to find a rock and roll band and I’m going to turn them into the greatest rock and roll band in the world.

“We asked what they were called. He said: ‘I don’t know yet, I haven’t found them. But when I go back to England I’m going to find them – and you can photograph them if you like.’”

1962

20x24"

A Limited Edition Photograph

Signed & Numbered by Philip Townsend

An edition of 50

31 August 1967

This image was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery

Left to Right: Mal Evans, Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Pattie Boyd, Mike McCartney, Neil AspinallRingo Starr, John Lennon, Maureen Starr, George Harrison, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
This portrait was taken in London, a few days after the Maharishi had lectured on Transcendental Meditation, at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane. The band, their wives, girlfriends and several other friends attended a weekend seminar led by the Maharishi in Bangor, North Wales. During their stay in Wales, the band received the news that their manager, Brian Epstein, had been found dead in his London home.

1967

Lambda Photograph

20x24"