When Ted Gartland first shot the Rolling Stones at Boston Garden in 1975, none of the old-timers on the photo desk at the old Record American were interested in the gig.
“The Garden will be filled with people like you,” he remembers his colleagues saying.
“Not everyone liked the cut of my jib,” he adds with a laugh.
To Gartland, however, shooting the Stones was a dream assignment. He had still been in high school back in 1966 when he traveled from his family’s home in Hyde Park to Lynn, where the Stones were set to open an American tour at the Manning Bowl. He told his mother he was going bowling.
That show was cut short by a thunderstorm and rioting fans. But Gartland would have plenty of other opportunities to catch his favorite band, especially after he was hired as a newsroom photographer.
Retired for almost a decade after a long career taking photos for newspapers including the Boston Herald and the Globe, Gartland is showcasing images of his favorite band in “All Down the Line: The Rolling Stones in Boston,” at the Panopticon Gallery. Located inside the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, the gallery is hosting the exhibit through Nov. 15.
He shot the Stones at least once every decade at various venues around Boston — the Garden, the Orpheum, in Foxborough — up until their most recent visit in 2019, at Gillette Stadium. That was their last tour with drummer Charlie Watts, one of the band’s core survivors alongside Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Watts died in August 2021.
“I have seen Keith say on more than one occasion that Mick and Keith and Charlie are the irreducible core of the band,” Gartland says. “I know they survived the death of Brian Jones and Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman quitting. I’m wondering this time for real if they’re going to continue.
“Good grief, Mick is 80!”
The Stones do have a new album called “Hackney Diamonds” coming this month. Their 26th studio album in America and their first of new material in 18 years, the record will feature guest appearances by a laundry list of rock-era royalty, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.
Gartland was on hand to take pictures during the Stones’ legendary three-show residency at what was then Sullivan Stadium on the “Steel Wheels” tour in 1989.
“Keith says when you play outside, every night God joins the band, and you don’t know what instrument he’s bringing. Percussion? Wind?” Gartland says. At Sullivan Stadium, “that was the loudest, cleanest, sharpest music I’ve ever heard.”
The band came back for several visits during the ‘90s, when “they were at the epoch of their powers,” Gartland recalls. “I saw them in ‘99 at the Garden on the ‘No Security’ tour. No long flowing coats, no inflatable dolls. It was just barroom rock ‘n’ roll.”
He’s captured other memorable moments. Back in 1974, before that first Stones show, he volunteered to take pictures when Stevie Wonder arrived in town to headline the Garden. The battle over school desegregation had just begun. The city was on edge.
“Everyone was in a tizzy. What the heck is gonna happen here?” he recalls. “But [Wonder] came out and put on a great show.
“I remember thinking: Music is a better force than some of these authority figures. That has stayed with me, man.”
James Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @sullivanjames.