Raj Prem is an internationally acclaimed curator and collector with a focus on photographs of rock legends from the 1960s and ‘70s, reflective of his love for bands like the Rolling Stones, figures from the period when rock was the forefront of the counter-culture movement.
Now known worldwide for representing talented photographers who captured images of famous rock stars, Prem started out as a music journalist. It was a chance conversation with Theron Kabrich, one of the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAe) gallery owners, in 1996 that inspired Prem to track down and exhibit some of the most iconic pictures in rock history. A year later, in 1997, Prem and the gallery launched the world’s very first rock photography show with photos shot by renowned photographer Gered Mankowitz during the 1965 US Rolling Stones tour. The show sold out on opening night, and ignited Prem’s passion even further, inspiring him to seek out and unearth as many images of iconic bands such as the Rolling Stones and The Beatles as he could find, many of which had never before made it into the public domain or seen the light of day. He gradually built an impeccable collection of images from photographers who defined the era such as Michael Joseph, Robert Freeman, Iain Macmillan (the photographer behind the bestselling Abbey Road collection), Peter Webb, Michael Cooper, Dominique Tarlê, Jerry Schatzberg, Terry O’Neill, and Pattie Boyd (the first wife of Beatle George Harrison).
Raj Prem once said in an interview with the Times of India, “I don’t detect an interest in 1980s photography.” But there certainly is an interest in his vision of classic rock, as evidenced by more than 95 exhibitions over the course of 18 years – 40 of them curated with his close associates Theron Kabrich and Jim Hartley at the SFAe gallery, as well as at galleries throughout the USA, UK, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Netherlands. To this day, Prem maintains connections to the London-based Atlas Gallery, Snap Gallery, and Proud Galleries, where he curated and coproduced numerous exhibitions together the Managing Director Kate Boenigk. Critically-acclaimed exhibitions include the major Beatles Retrospective in London and “The Decca Years,” which depicted the Rolling Stones rise from chart attractions to leaders of the counter culture movement. Most recently he helped curate the highly publicized “Robert Freeman: Beatles for Sale” exhibition in 2013. He is currently working on an upcoming show with SFAe, featuring the work of Pattie Boyd and her iconic photographs of The Beatles.
Always looking towards the future (but with an eye on 1963 – 1972), Prem remains ambitious about his career and optimistic about his exhibitions and the market for his vast collection of work. He will continue on the pioneering venture that united his career with his passion and he hopes to keep sharing his wonderful collection of photographs with enthusiastic collectors and rock fans at exhibitions around the world.