Colin Jones 1936 – 2021

It is with great sadness that we report that photographer Colin Jones passed away on Wednesday 22 September. Colin was one of the first photographers to capture exactly what The Who were all about back in 1965 when the group (they were groups, not bands, back in those days) were just starting out, recording their first singles and their debut album My Generation. In 1966, when Colin was working at the Observer he took the iconic photo of The Who in front of a Union Jack in a hotel at Manchester airport for the front cover of the Observer colour magazine. That photo defined The Who as the ultimate Pop art group with their era-defining clothes: Pete in his Union Jack jacket, Keith in his t-shirt adorned with Bridget Riley’s ‘Blaze’ painting, and John and Roger in Op art diamonds and stripes.

Colin photographed The Who on many occasions, re-visiting his Observer cover again in March 1972 when they had morphed from a 60s pop group into a very definite 70s rock band, and a third time in the 1980s with Kenney Jones taking the place of Keith who had passed away in 1978.

Colin Jones began his career as a ballet dancer but, on buying a camera in Japan whilst on an errand for Dame Margot Fonteyn, he began photographing the dancers in the ballet company. He left the world of ballet and got work as a photographer for the Observer colour magazine and later The Sunday Times Colour Magazine. He was commissioned to cover the burgeoning civil rights movement in Alabama followed by often risky subjects such as Brazil’s gold mines, gangs in Jamaica, prostitution in the Philippines, the boy soldiers of the Khmer Rouge, and the Cargo Cults of the New Hebrides who worshipped Prince Phillip.

Back at home, Colin documented British social history over the years, including the vanishing industrial working lives of the north east, the marginalised Afro-Caribbean youth in London and the high-octane hedonism of Swinging London in the 1960’s with his defining images of The Who early in their career.

In 2014, Colin celebrated 50 years of The Who with an exhibition of his work for the band at Proud Gallery in Camden, London and later in the year at Photoaumnales, Beauvais, France

The following are some of Colin’s photographs of The Who which appeared in the 2016 My Generation Super Deluxe Edition box set. All photographs © Colin Jones.

The Who in Wapping Lane, Surrey Docks, 1965

The Who at the Co-operative Hall, Warrington, 23 January 1966

John and Pete tuning up backstage at the Co-operative Hall, Warrington, 23 January 1966

Pete, Keith and John buying newspapers at Manchester Piccadilly station, 23 January 1966

Adoring female fans watching The Who at the Locarno ballroom, Stevenage, 26 January 1966

John (on six strings!) with his mum Queenie at home in Acton, 1965

Pete and his collection of smashed Rickenbackers, 1965

Roger digging some James Brown in his flat at Ivor Court, Marylebone, 1966

Pete with his Vortexion CBL reel-to-reel tape recorder in his flat in Old Church Street, Chelsea, 1966

Keith at IBC Studios during the recording of ‘Circles’, 12 January 1966

Pete and Keith with producer Shel Talmy listening to a playback at IBC Studios, 12 January 1966

Pete and Roger at IBC Studios during the My Generation sessions, 12 January 1966

Rest in peace, Colin Jones.

See more of Colin Jones’s wonderful work on his website.

4 thoughts on “Colin Jones 1936 – 2021”

  1. Brings back HUGE memories.
    Saw Them in 1967-8 The Collesium In Toronto Canada
    They introduced their upcoming new Album
    Believe it or Not
    ” TOMMY ”
    Their Album followed in the Summer of 67=69

  2. Jay says:

    Very cool, great memories seeing you guys rocking it out at the Hollywood bowl with my friend Michael Trutanich. Back when music was still music😎

  3. Matt says:

    8th grade in my bedroom making out heavily with my girlfriend on the bed with Who’s Next vinyl filling the atmosphere. If I get 7 days to re-live that will be one of them. Man what memories.

  4. Rob Benner says:

    Outstanding and iconic photos. RIP Colin

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