It was in 1997 that Raj Prem and the San Francisco art Exchange gallery premiered the world’s first rock photography show featuring work by renowned photographer Gered Mankowitz who documented the famed 1965 U.S. Rolling Stones tour. The show was a gamble, because up until that point pop culture photography was never considered to be a collectible medium. Turned out it was a gamble that paid off big-time, as the show entirely sold out on opening night and launched Prem’s career as both curator and archeologist – unearthing images of backstage, first-hand moments with classic bands from the 1960s and 1970s such as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and of course, Prem’s deepest passion, the Rolling Stones.
Before his career as a curator and cultural archivist, Raj Prem worked as a music journalist and it was a chance conversation in 1996 with Theron Kabrich, one of the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAe) gallery owners which inspired him to track down and exhibit the rare and never-before-seen images he has become known for. The results over the successive 21 years have been major exhibitions of documenting the lives of musical stars captured in private moments, alone or together, behind the scenes. He has assembled the work of numerous famed photographers including Robert Freeman, Michael Joseph, Iain Macmillan (the photographer behind the bestselling Abbey Road collection), Michael Cooper, Peter Webb, Jerry Schatzberg, Dominique Tarlê, Terry O’Neill, and Pattie Boyd (the first wife of Beatle George Harrison).
Over more than two decades, Prem has given legions of rock fans something new and unexpected, providing deeper insight into the emotions, personalities, and characters of the icons. To date, he has put together more than 95 exhibitions in numerous countries and galleries around the world, including the USA, UK, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Netherlands. He still continues his close association with Theron Kabrich and Jim Hartley at the SFAe gallery with more than 40 of the shows held there, as well as a strong relationship with the London-based Atlas Gallery, Snap Gallery, and Proud Galleries, where he curated and coproduced numerous exhibitions together the Managing Director Kate Boenigk. He most recently announced plans to open an art gallery in Doha, Qatar, to house his internationally acclaimed exhibitions.