The Rolling Stones came to Adam Cooper’s house to celebrate one of his early birthdays, and gave him two signed guitars. Two days later, Keith Richards came knocking, and sheepishly asked to borrow the acoustic one to record a song: Ruby Tuesday.
“Of course I still have this instrument!” Cooper laughs, four decades later. “It’s very well protected, because I think it’s worth a fortune!”
Cooper, now 49, had a childhood millions of Stones fans could only dream of: He was part of the band’s extended family for a decade as the son of British photographer Michael Cooper, who captured 3,500 images of their intimate daily life. Some 100 of these photographs are on display in Stones 50, an exhibition that opened on Friday and runs through February at the Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires before moving to Chile and other stops in Latin America.
Cooper lives with his wife, Silvia, in Buenos Aires, where they have spent years curating his father’s overall collection of 70,000 photos.
As a young single father in London’s psychedelic era, Michael Cooper also shot many other icons and artists, from John Lennon to William Burroughs to Rene Magritte, and created the colorful cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in 1967. Adam came along for the ride, on the Stones’ tours and to recording studios, hotel rooms, backstage dressing rooms and vacations.
“He had such a good relationship with them that they were always relaxed in front of the camera,” Adam recalled. “This was their real life.”
Adam was nine when this rock and roll childhood ended with his father’s suicide, he said. Still, he remains close to Richards.
“The last time I saw him he said, ‘Everyone has bad days, me too. When this happens, I look to the sky and I ask advice from your father,” Adam Cooper recalled. “He’s a very sweet man. That’s where you understand that rock isn’t everything in the lives of these stars.”