The Kodak Rock Photography Collection was en exhibit of 500 of the greatest rock pics of all time. I assembled and wrote the catalogue for the show, which involved contacting and interviewing dozens of the photographers whose works were exhibited. Here are some of the images and some of the information I gathered about them. All photographs are © the respective photographers.
1. Jimi Hendrix by Ed Caraeff
“I was 16 years old and I had never been so far away from home in my life. My pre-arranged photo pass was stolen by a ‘friend’ of mine who arrived at the show before me. I also had no place to stay at night. I finally was able to get another pass, but if I’d known all of that before leaving for Monterey, I’m sure I would not have gone! I had never heard or even seen a photo of Jimi Hendrix. A German photographer in ‘the photo pit’ casually told me to ‘save some film for this Jimi Hendrix chap’. By the the time Hendrix came onstage I had secured a chair and was able to manouvre it to the edge of the stage, no one in front of me, and I could stand on the chair for a better angle so I didn’t have to shoot from down looking up. This photo was 36, last on the roll.
I could feel the heat of the guitar when it was flaming! After that shot, Jimi stood up and smashed the burning guitar five feet in front of me. I kept the camera in front of my face just for protection. It was DANGEROUS!
Jimi’s next gig was the following week at the Whiskey A Go Go in my home town, Hollyweird. I was able to find the motel where he was staying, and brought him around some mounted enlargements of some of my photographs from Monterey. We became friends and I later drove him to a party thrown by John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas at their home in Bel Air. We played a game of pool together. He was a very nice, soft spoken guy with a tiny waist, large head, and the longest fingers I’ve ever seen.”
2. The Who by Barry Wentzell
“This was at a Melody Maker Awards ceremony in London in 1969 and the band had won an award. The lads were in a good mood and I asked if I could get a ‘snap or two’ of them and they obliged. Derek Taylor from Apple was also there at the show and asked us if we would like to hear something ‘amazing’. Moon and Daltrey and a few others went with us to the Apple office where he plied us with champagne and we heard the acetate of ‘Abbey Road.”
3. John Lennon by Bob Gruen
“I often wore the New York City t-shirts I bought from street vendors in Times Square and I once gave one to John. A year or so later, when I was taking pictures for “Walls and Bridges” album on the roof of a penthouse apartment he had in New York, I asked John if he still had the shirt since we had a perfect background for it. He went and got it and we took this picture which over the years has become one of the most popular images of him in the world.”
4. Lou Reed by Mick Rock
July 28, 1972 King’s Cross Cinema, London, England Used on the cover of ‘Transformer’
“That was quite a summer in London. Ziggy Stardust was released in June, Mott and David were doing ‘All The Young Dudes’, Iggy played Kings Cross, then Lou. This shot became the cover of ‘Transformer’ and the shots from Iggy’s show became the cover of ‘Raw Power’. The theater was very hot, Lou was sweating and he just let his Kabuki make-up start running. When I showed him the contact prints, he zeroed right in on the Transformer shot. I made the print myself, as I usually did in those days. The first test I made fell out of focus in the exposure. Lou loved the result. It took me twelve attempts to reproduce this accident for the final larger print for the album cover.”
5. Rod Stewart and The Faces by Raeannne Rubenstein
“Rod and The Faces were well known for their rowdy partying and wild ways while on tour, not unusual for the big British bands of the time. I got a call from their label publicist one morning, inviting me to go to Queens to a tour-end media reception at a motel near the airport while they waited for their flight home that evening. I invited my friend Patti Sith, then a poet and aspiring songwriter, now the famous PATTI SMITH, to go with me. It all started calmly and professionally enough, with long tables full of hotel catering and an open bar set out in a large suite with Rod and The Faces and a few invited guests enjoying the afternoon. It didn’t take very long though, before the drinks, and Patti Smith, and who knows what else, maybe me taking snapshots, caused the temperature in the room to rise until before I knew it the band began to trash the hotel – also not very unusual for the big British bands of the day. It took minutes for the food to go flying, a bed to be pushed out the window into the swimming pool and for someone to turn on the firehose in the hallway. Costly chaos ensued. The best part for me was shooting the whole thing, seven or eight rolls of priceless bedlam!”
6. Bob Marley by Kate Simon
“The day I shot the Kaya cover I was swimming, racing Chris Blaxckwell in the breast stroke. Chris gave me a lead – he used to say ‘you go first’, and then we raced in the breaststrioke and Chris won. Her didn’t win by much, but he indeed beat me. He was a very good swimmer, ’cause I was pretty good too. I guess I was energized by the fact that I’d just been swimming. I got out of the pool and Bob was sitting there. So there I was, in my bathing suit, and I shot two rolls of black and white and a roll of colour. Beautiful, great film, great shoot. Neville Garrick the Art Director picked it out for the Kaya cover, so I have Neville to thank for that. That Kaya picture took on a life of its own. I think it’s because Bob looks so joyful and so open and so present – he’s just shining in that picture. I know he liked it because he put stickers of it all over his car and he used to wear it. It was the photograph of the One Love Peace concert, too. I’m glad he liked it.”
7. The Grateful Dead by Baron Wolman
October 5, 1967 710 Ashbury St., San Francisco, Ca., USA Assignment for Rolling Stone magazine
“My very first Rolling Stone assignment was to photograph the Grateful Dead at their Haight-Ashbury home following the famous marijuana raid on their house. This informal portrait of the band was the best shot from an entire roll of The Dead cutting up for the camera, flipping me the bird and pointing rifles in my direction. Carefully posed pictures were a total impossibility that day.”
8. Queen by Mick Rock
December, 1973 Mick Rock’s Studio, Great Newport Street, London, England
“This was the first time I ever shot Queen in the studio and in fact was their first ever studio photo session. I had heard about them through Ken Scott (David Bowie’s co-producer) when I was shooting David during the recording of Pinups, and Ken said ‘These guys really want to meet you, because they love what you do with David and Iggy and Lou’. At that point, they were not known at all. When you see the shot now it’s nothing outrageous at all, but at the time some of the press people knocked it, offended because it was a bit excessive, this androgyny thing. But it got them their first real attention.”