When British photographer Eric Swayne passed away in 2007 from a bout with cancer, he left behind a box that turned out to be a gold mine containing hundreds of images from the Swinging London 60s scene. The then terminally ill Swayne sought to de-clutter his possessions as he began sifting thru his studio, unloading a lifetime’s worth of kept prints and negatives, vinyl records as well as some equipment. After his passing, much to the astonishment of his son, a box labeled “do not throw out” turned up. As he opened it, lo and behold the swinging 60s were back.
These never-before-seen photographs offer yet another glimpse into that decade where many rock legends emerged. The collection, called The Stones and Their Scene, is currently on a run at Proud Chelsea until July 28. It features Swayne’s encounters with Swinging London’s trendsetters of the 1960’s.
Prominent in the series are Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts all in their prime. The images also contain other notable figures of the time including Chrissie Shrimpton, David Bailey, Pattie Boyd, Ossie Clark, Anita Pallenberg, Mary Quant, Jane Birkin, Chrissie Shrimpton, and Catherine Deneuve. Swayne likewise appears, very much a part of that defining era.
Tom Swayne, Eric’s son, was the one who found the box singled out by his dad for safekeeping. Tom said that he was aware of his father’s stature, but not did not really appreciate the extent of who he rubbed elbows with.
“We knew he had been a photographer in the 60s, and he did sometimes tell stories like Keith Richards turning up in a limousine to collect him to go shopping, and if he liked something buying one in every color they made,” said Tom Swayne. “But he didn’t talk about it much at all…”
Stories have it that Eric Swayne didn’t strike it big with photography right away. He had a coffee shop in central London where he would meet photographer David Bailey. “When Bailey saw he was interested in photography, he encouraged my dad to pick up a camera and have a go for himself, and he never looked back,” said Tom. That turned out to be a perfect time to get into a craft that lasted many decades.
See some of the photos here.