Rolling Stones reveal themselves to Sydney

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones Exhibit opens the band's vast, private archive for the first time.
Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones Exhibit opens the band's vast, private archive for the first time.

Girls, food and clothes were the identical "likes" listed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 1963 for members of their fan club.

Jagger's dislikes, meanwhile, were "intolerant people and having my hair cut", while Richards penned "brass bands, snobs and striped pajamas (sic)".

The messy, handwritten notes are some of the 500 objects from The Rolling Stones' vast, private archive, the majority of which are shown for the first time in Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones Exhibit.

Other items include pages from Keith Richards' diaries; Jagger's handwritten lyrics to Miss You, Hey Negrita and Worried About You; the drum kit Charlie Watts used between 1965 and 1968; scores of guitars described by the band like old friends; lists of songs played at rehearsals (obsessively recorded by Ronnie Wood); as well as 70 original and flamboyant costumes worn by the band throughout their almost 60-year career.

The idea for the band's first ever exhibition was born during its 2014 tour 14 On Fire. The project has been put together by Australian-based iEC (International Entertainment Consulting), opening in London in 2016 and since touring 12 cities around the world. It opens on November 17 in Sydney - the only Australian city to host it.

The exhibit will be the longest-running event that the Harbour City's International Convention Centre (ICC) has ever staged - but perhaps that's fitting for a band that has played more shows to more people than any other - that's 1,700 to 45 million.

The exhibition dispels any chronology; there is no exact beginning and certainly, the band has no end in sight. Instead, it is organised by themes.

There's the art and design gallery of 190 original artworks and album covers, with notes on their influences and creation; the film gallery that filmmaker and fan Martin Scorsese helped to create; and the fashion gallery worked on by Tommy Hilfiger, for which the bands' family members reluctantly opened up their closets.

On entering the exhibition, you get to stroll through a recreation of the flat in Chelsea's Edith Grove shared by Jagger, Richards, Watts and Brian Jones in 1962 and 1963. Its design is based purely on their memories and was, as Richards recalls, "a pigsty". There is just one bedroom complete with dirty undies, a living room strewn with records and a kitchen sink full of cigarette butts.

The exhibit flows into a recreation of London's Olympic Studios, complete with console and sound mixing decks, where the band recorded six albums. It later leads into the Stones' authentic backstage environment, a world that few people ever saw but where, despite the venue, "the vibe is always the same".

From backstage, visitors are able to enter a 3D performance of the band singing Satisfaction in London five or six years ago.

But don't dare mention the "legacy" left by The Rolling Stones; Richards says it's far too early for that.

"We haven't finished yet," he says in a quote in the exhibition. "There's one thing we haven't yet achieved, and that's to really find out how long you can do this. It's still such a joy to play with this band that you can't really let go of it."

* Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones Exhibit opens at ICC Sydney on November 17 and will run until February 3.

Australian Associated Press