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Bent Rej was born in 1940, Danish photographer.
Bent Rej was one of the few photographers who were allowed to follow the great pop and rock groups of the charismatic music scene of the sixties at close quarters. Rej for 60s icons such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who, millions of words have been written about the sixties -- the groups, the singers and the scene - but nothing captures the magic quite like brilliant photography. It was a time when music was not burdened with the labels that have since become commonplace. Pop music was...well it was pop music. Music marketing hadn’t been invented and while image was everything it wasn’t manipulated and managed like it is today. Music was either in the Pop, Jazz or Classical sections of record shops and Pop was everything from The Mothers of Invention and Jimi Hendrix to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Tich. Unique is an over used word, but Bent Rej’s photographs really do provide just such an insight into a crazy world. His pictures are like ‘time-pieces’ from that magical time when music was testing its boundaries, when radical change was not merely a dream but fast becoming a reality. Crucially Bent’s pictures are not just images of the artists - he has stories and insights to go with his pictures and the exact date when each and every one was shot. Bent was one of a handful of photographers who became part of the scene.
Bent’s unique access and the fact that he was taking pictures in London and Denmark, as well as around Europe, is what makes these photographs so special. Bob Dylan at Elsinore Castle and on stage offers a look at the legend that few other photographers were able to effect. Tom Jones on horseback, before he had even recorded ‘It’s Not Unusual’ (Tom and his manager were hard up and so Bent had to rent the horse). Cream and Eric Clapton at the height of their success, a duckwalking Chuck Berry,The Rolling Stones – at home and on the road,Van Morrison and Them, and the legendary Ray Charles are all included in what are amongst the very best photographic archive from these amazing times.
Bent was there at the end of the three-minute pop song, capturing the moment when Pop became Rock, a time when musicians were beginning to think they might just last a little longer than the 15 minutes that had been allotted to them. It soon became a revolution! No more wearing what your manager told you, smiling for the cameras or jumping off walls to show how happy you were for just being a pop star. Bands were starting to think! Often what they thought was not the sort of thing that your mother would know, and if she did she certainly wouldn’t approve, which was precisely what made rock stars even more appealing. Then the most amazing thing of all happened, us fans started to grow older with our favourite artists.
Bent’s photographs preserve a unique time in our cultural history, when the times really were a-changin.