24 Sep 2021
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 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.