THE ROLLING STONES FIRST TRIP TO AMERICA RECORDING AT CHESS RECORDS IN CHICAGO – June, 1964 

As a preview of the forthcoming Bob Bonis Museum featuring The Beatles and Rolling Stones, the Bob Bonis Archive and WEAM present a preview exhibition featuring an exclusive historic collection of photographs of the Rolling Stones first-ever recording sessions in America at the world famous Chess Records studios in Chicago. 

Bob Bonis had the privilege of serving as US Tour Manager for both The Beatles AND the Rolling Stones from 1964 through 1966, encompassing all three US tours of The Beatles and the first five US tours of the Rolling Stones. Bob was a passionate photographer with a natural talent for composition and unequalled access to these two future superstar groups. He brought his Leica camera along with him on the tours and captured thousands of remarkable candid images of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman documenting this precious period in popular culture and popular music history. These often iconic photographs remained almost entirely unpublished until years after Bonis’ death in 1992 when music historian and memorabilia expert Larry Marion discovered and then acquired his entire photographic archive that includes thousands of photographs of not only The Beatles and Rolling Stones, but also many of the other musicians with whom Bob worked. 

In sharp contrast to how The Beatles invaded America, launching the British Invasion, refusing to come to America until that held the #1 position on the record charts, the Rolling Stones launched their first US tour only two weeks after their first album was released and were virtually unknown to most of America at that time. They sold out their shows in California and New York, ahead of the rest of country in jumping on the Stones bandwagon, but the rest of America didn’t really yet know who they were and that they would soon rival The Beatles for the top position in the charts and hearts of teenagers around the world. After a disappointing reception for a set of shows at the Teen Fair of Texas in San Antonio the Rolling Stones manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, asked producer Phil Spector to help him book a couple of days of recording sessions, June 10 & 11, 1964, at the famous studios of Chess Records in Chicago where the great rhythm and bluesmen, who were the actual inspiration for the formation of the Stones recorded their classics; musicians including Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy. At Chess studios staff engineer Ron Malo became the first to accurately capture the Rolling Stones live stage sound on record, a key factor that had eluded them in their previous sessions in the UK. While at Chess they would meet several of their heroes, including: Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry. 

This exhibition had its world premiere in June of 2019 at Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation in the building that housed the former Chess Records studios celebrating the 55th anniversary of these historic sessions and now comes to Miami Beach. This was but one event / session that Bob captured and documented during his tenure with 

these two bands and serves as a preview of what is to come in the future Bob Bonis Museum at the Wilzig Museum Building. 

A preview of the Limited Edition prints and portfolios of these photographs can be seen at BobBonisChess.com. 

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