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Submitted by m3jimphoto on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:17am

Clown

In today’s blog I want to highlight one of the earliest of Jim’s multitude of hero shots and the first print he ever gave to me.  It is a shot he took very, very early in his career and always said was one of his absolute favorites.  A shot he referred to, with the abject simplicity of his that I came to find so endearing, as “Clown”. There’s a spread in Jim’s remarkable book “Proof” that features “Clown” on the righthand side and the original proofsheet on the left with the trademark yellow grease-pencil rectangle marking frame 33 to indicate the one to print.  “Proof” is one of my favorite of Jim’s books because you can really get a sense of how he worked, what captured his eye, how selective he could be and how he was always working full frame with available light.  Amazing. For those of you who may have missed it the first time, here’s my blog, “The ‘Proof’ is in the Shooting” where I muse on the book and its impact.  I especially enjoyed speaking with collaborator Joel Selvin to pick his brain for some lovely recollections. Here’s the caption from Proof: “CLOWN (1962) Marshall snapped this backstage shot from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Columbus Circle in New York City.  It was one of the first rolls of film he took when he arrived in New York for the first time.” One of his first rolls of film during his first time in NYC … I really don't think Jim was on assignment but rather just roaming around, doing his Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith street photographer thing.  And, I bet he was paying for the film out of his own pocket.  You can see how economical he is with his shot selection and also how many other amazing shots there were on just that one role.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about gifts (the way we get hammered with the message across all media, I feel like I’m thinking about it when and whether I want to or not).  And it’s sort of quirky that Jim hated the holidays because I rarely saw him with a bigger smile on his face than when he was making a present of something that he absolutely knew would delight the recipient.  And I count myself among the most fortunate in that Jim’s generosity toward me really knew no bounds. I just thought to include this snap of my framed print of “Clown,” because it is a crowning part of my personal Jim Marshall collection.  I’m not sure if you can see it, but Jim has written “For Michelle” on the mat just under the barrel.  My print was made in 1984 not long after Jim and I met in March of that year.  Jim made sure I noticed the inscription. My 19-year-old self sort of pretended to get what the huge deal was though, truthfully, I thought “For Michelle” was rather formal and unromantic.  Also, while I really loved the shot, I was surprised it wasn’t from the music side of things. Obviously, I just did not at all get the implication of what he’d done… and with those huge brown eyes staring a hole through my head, he could tell.  So then he practically shouted at me: “You don’t understand, I never write on my photos.  I just don’t do it!”  And I could tell that it was a sort of sacrilege, that something had literally forced his hand. So, of course, I was a bit freaked out and mortified to have seemingly inspired him to do such a thing, and then Jim proceeded to show me why.  But some gifts remain best kept a secret.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 11/15/2012 - 8:41pm

Rip This Joint! The Rolling Stones 1972 Exhibition at London’s O2 Debuts

All Jim Marshall and Rolling Stones fans lucky enough to be in London sometime over the next three months need to check out the new exhibition – Rip This Joint! The Rolling Stones 1972 – that opened a few days ago (the opening party is tonight) at The O2 in London.  The exhibit coincides nicely with the Stones live shows at the O2 slated for Nov. 25 and 29 that reportedly sold out in 7 minutes(!) in celebration of the band’s 50th year. To whet your appetite a bit, here are a handful of behind-the-scenes shots from the exhibit's installation courtesy of Team Marshall’s crafty Dave Brolan, who curated the show.  One of my favorite touches is the vignette created to emulate a classic shot of Keith Richards sitting on a stool at Sunset Sound in LA in the spring of 1972.  Visitors will be able to sit down to get a snap and perhaps a momentary feeling of what is was like to be “Keef” in the midst of creating “Exile on Main Street,” one of the truly splendid rock albums of its, or any, era.

Here’s a nice write up by Louise Jury, chief arts correspondent, published a few days ago in the London Evening Standard: Pictures of the Rolling Stones “with their trousers down” on an infamous U.S. tour go on show in London for the first time today. The candid photographs were taken in 1972 by the late Jim Marshall who joined the band in partying so hard that the journalist he was working with for Life magazine complained to their editor.

But Dave Brolan, who has curated the new exhibition at the British Music Experience museum, said: “Jim still got the cover shot and a big photo feature and hundreds of great pictures. “Jim was granted exceptional access to the Stones. He is regarded as the most important rock photographer, most of his archive is unique and he was often the only photographer present, at the Stones’ recording session in the show, for example.”

Marshall, who died aged 74 two years ago, also photographed Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at the Monterey pop festival, Johnny Cash performing in San Quentin jail and backstage at the Beatles’ final concert.  Keith Richards once described him as “another Stone.” The guitarist added: “He caught us with our trousers down and got the ups and downs. I love his work, which must have been frustrating to do at times.  But this is what happens on gigs like this.’ ” Entry to the exhibition is included in the price of a ticket to the British Music Experience.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 11/08/2012 - 9:00pm

Coming Soon! The Rolling Stones 1972 Exhibit at The O2 in London

There is much news brewing in the world of Jim Marshall Photography for the rest of 2012 including most notably the upcoming “Rolling Stones 1972” exhibition at The O2’s British Music Experience, Britain’s groovy interactive museum of popular music housed in the O2 Bubble in Greenwich, London.

The show, curated by Team Marshall’s own Dave Brolan, is being installed today and will run from November 12, 2012 to February 3, 2013.  This powerful show is devoted to images entirely from Jim Marshall’s posthumous book, “The Rolling Stones 1972,” which is now in its second printing.  The exhibition opening will be next Thursday, November 15.

Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of the O2 exhibit, including a peek at the special Gibson Guitar vignette for you Keith Richards aficionados, as well as behind-the-scenes shots of the installation in next week’s blog!

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 10/25/2012 - 10:08pm

The Story Behind the Photo or How Not to Cold Call Jim Marshall

As the number of Jim Marshall blogs grows ever higher, I realize some of the most pleasing for me to research and write involve what I call “origin stories,” the story behind how someone first met Jim and the impact he made on them, usually lifelong.  These origin stories are often poignant, usually scary or hilarious or both, and they almost always capture a perfect microcosm of mercurial, nutty, indominatable, inspiring Jim, warts and all. And so here is another from Richard Peters, a friend of Jim’s from back in the day, and a talented artist in his own right, who ended up with a Jimi Hendrix album cover to his own credit:

“In 1968, I had a poster of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop 1967.  It had a photo credit with Jim Marshall’s name, and I wrote a letter to the company who published it hoping it would get forwarded to Jim.  I just said how much I admired his work and asked him a few questions about shooting rock ‘n roll.  I figured it was way too obtuse and I would never hear from the guy.  But a little while later I got a postcard from Jim answering all my questions really nicely and giving me his mailing address.

“I then met Jim in person in the fall of 1970 at the Big Sur Folk Festival.  I was just walking around outside the arena with my cameras when I see this guy behind a burgundy Alfa Romeo unloading his gear out of the trunk, and packing up his camera bag.  He looked very intent, like somebody who knew what they were doing, a real pro with all those Leicas, not lower level stuff.  I only knew Jim via the mail at that point, we had never met, so I walked up and introduced myself, ‘Are you Jim Marshall?  I’m the guy with the postcard.’  And he smiles, ‘Oh … yeah, yeah.”

Richard had written to famed SF Chronicle music critic Ralph J. Gleason, saying he was going to shoot at Big Sur for one of the rock mags and was there any way he could get a pass to sit up close. A few days later Ralph sent his press pass, telling Richard to enjoy the show because he couldn’t make it.  “So I’m in the fourth row and I can sit up in this No Access area, sitting next to Mimi Farinha, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstandt was taking pictures.  So I tell all this to Jim and he says, ‘Hey, that’s great, I hope you get some good shots.”  And Richard does, as it turns out, including the one of Jim that we're running with this blog.

And there the story could have pretty much ended, except there is a coda ... Richard, who has done a masterful job of overcoming a wicked stutter, realized around 1980 that it was time he bought some Jim Marshall prints. “I hadn’t seen Jim since 1970, I had been living in Maine, but I always thought if I ever moved back to California, the first item on my agenda is I’m going to go buy some original Jim photos.  So I moved back to Salinas in 1980, and I sent Jim a letter, he was living on Union St. mentioning that I was interested in coming up and maybe buying some prints.  I told him I’d call him, and warned him that sometimes I have difficulty with words on the phone but I’ll do my best.

“A week later I call him.  I’m really nervous, so I’m having a heck of a time with my stuttering and the phone is the worst enemy of the stutterer … I was really on a down cycle with my speech.  But I think, ‘Oh well, it’s Jim and if I can just say it’s me, it’ll be fine.’  So I call and he picks up and says really loud and short, ‘Yeah?’ and he sounds mad. I really tense up.  So I just try to say his name and all that comes out is this breathy, low, ‘Juh- Juh- Juh- Juh- Juh’ Then, I’m REALLY starting to sweat and so I think, just say ‘Hello.’  So I start ‘Huh- huh- huh- huh- huh- HUH-’

“And, Jim, after all these juh-juh-juh-juhs and huh-huh-huhs just YELLS into the phone: ‘Man, I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you are SICK!” and he slams down the phone so hard that it hurts my ear.

“So by this time I’m REALLY sweating but I’m so mad at myself.  I still think I can DO this.  I can get ONE word out, so I call back and Jim answers:  ‘Yeah?!’  And I think I’m just going to say, ‘Hey, Jim,’ and then it will be fine ... but he sounds so pissed off that all I can say is ‘Huh, huh, huh, Juh, Juh, Juh, Juh …’ and then Jim just screams into the phone “FUCK YOU!!!” and then SLAM goes the phone even louder than before.

“I’ve had incidents like this all my life.  Nothing special except that it was such an important phone call and I idolized him and I wanted to do some business with him.  So I give up, wipe the sweat off my face and figure it is just not meant to be for that day. Five minutes later my phone rings and it’s Jim and he says, “Hey, Richard, was that you?” And, for the record, Richard did end up choosing some long-sought images and came up to see Jim, leaving with seven signed prints ... but that, as they say, is another story for another day.

For more on Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop 1967,  check out these blogs and Jim Marshall’s wonderful book,
“Monterey Pop.”
More Monterey Pop: Shake, Rattle and BURN!! 
Down in Monterey

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 10/11/2012 - 10:41pm

Kris Kristofferson: Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down

He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction / Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home. -- Kris Kristofferson lyric from “The Pilgrim” Sometimes we dive so deep into Jim’s archive to uncover the rare and hardly seen that we miss the redwood amongst the junipers.  Which is to say that I was rather shocked to realize the other day that, after producing nearly two years' worth of JMPLLC blogs, we had yet to run one of Jim’s favorite portraits: a moody, sexy shot of Kris Kristofferson in a Los Angeles hotel on a long-forgotten Sunday in 1970.

Or, as Jim would always say when he looked at it: “That was literally ‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, Michie …” and then just shake his head ruefully at the memory of the hard partying that had evidently gone down the night before. I’ve talked about Kristofferson before from the standpoint of his relationship to Johnny Cash and the Outlaw movement in country music, but always as a tangential figure.  However, Jim seemed to have known Kristofferson was going to be a huge star from the moment he laid eyes on him, certainly once he heard him put his own songs across onstage.

Jim held Kristofferson in the highest regard, he thought of him as a true renaissance man – Rhodes scholar, star athlete, helicopter pilot, the list goes on and on – and especially admired his songwriting and easy charisma. Jim told me more than once, with no small amount of pride, that he had played a small but pivotal role in helping Kristofferson break through to major festival audiences back when that was still the key way to make it.  Jim didn’t seem boastful when he remembered those times, but rather he had a kind of beaming expression … this only child who always hated the fact ... he looked to me like a big brother looks when he makes sure his little brother gets the chance he deserves and then goes out and kicks ass.

In fact, less than a year after Jim met Kristofferson, Johnny Cash’s recording of “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” was released on his album, “The Johnny Cash Show,” and it won the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year in 1970 and hit No. 1 on the country charts. But I prefer to let Jim tell the tale in his own way.  Here’s the caption that ran with the shot of Kristofferson in that LA hotel room (or as Jim always said, his “studio,” since so very many of his greatest portraits were shot in hotel rooms and he abhored the set-up, artificial feel of studios with their props and lighting): From Jim Marshall’s “Not Fade Away,” published in 1997:

“This photograph of Kris Kristofferson was taken in late 1970 or early 1971 in Los Angeles at the Continental Hyatt House on Sunset Boulevard, which was owned at the time by Gene Autry. I met Kris in early 1969, before his first album had come out and I came back to San Francisco from Nashville shell-shocked after hearing songs like “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down” “For the Good Times,” and “Jody and the Kid.”  The guy was brilliant.  Since then we’ve been good friends, and I’ve done two or three of the jackets for Kris’s albums. “The year Kris came on the scene, nobody knew who he was, and I remember talking to Barry Olivier, who ran the Berkeley Folk Festival, about putting Kris on between sets.  I was telling my then wife-to-be, Rebecca, and everyone I knew to come out and hear this guy! Kris did three songs at Berkeley, and at the end the audience was just stunned and then went nuts with applause.  Later I spoke to Johnny Cash and one of the organizers about getting Kris onstage at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island in 1969.  During that same year he wasn’t allowed to play between the set changes at the Big Sur Folk Festival, but the next year, in 1970, he was a headliner when Big Sur moved to the Monterey County Fair grounds.

“[The lead photo for this blog] was shot on a Sunday morning.  It’s a very personal picture.  I’ve got maybe one hundred rolls on Kris, and the motherfucker doesn’t take a bad shot.  From every angle this guy is such a good-looking man, he’s got such charm about him.  It’s really hard to take a bad picture of Kris.” We think this sampling of shots from the start of Kristofferson’s pivotal climb from Columbia studio janitor to center stage makes that point quite nicely. Enjoy!

Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
By Kris Kristofferson

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An’ I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An’ stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before,
On cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid,
Cussin’ at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street,
‘n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.
And it took me back to somethin’,
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy,
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school,
And listened to the song they were singin’.
Then I headed back for home,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.
And it echoed through the canyons,
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Fri, 09/28/2012 - 12:28am

Little Boxes: Jim, Malvina Reynolds and ‘Weeds’

Ready for the next entry into our never-ending game of “Sixth Degrees of Jim Marshall?” It’s a game of finding connections and serendipitous linkages between Jim’s life and work and (fill in the blank important person or hugely popular happening or historic event) that we at Team Marshall never get tired of playing. Today’s blog explores the connection of Jim to the just-concluded after eight seasons and much-adored Showtime series, “Weeds”  … and, no, the connection is not the fact that “Weeds” is about drug dealing (too obvious, guess again). Give up?  OK, the connection is that the series’ theme song, “Little Boxes” was nearly as much a part of “Weeds” as, well, weed was.  Malvina Reynolds wrote “Little Boxes” in 1962, simultaneously putting the phrase “ticky-tacky” into the people’s everyday speech and conveying a witty indictment of the middle class and bourgeoisie of the time with their conformity and head-in-the-sand attitudes. And whose wonderful black-and-white portrait of Malvina Reynolds was on the cover of her hugely influential 1967 album “Malvina Reynolds … Sings the Truth”? An album that featured three different versions of “Little Boxes”?  You guessed it: Jim Marshall.

And they all look just the same

Here’s the lowdown from various Wiki pages on Malvina and her impact: “ ‘Little Boxes’ ” is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963.

“The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as ‘little boxes’ of different colors ‘all made out of ticky-tacky,’ and which ‘all look just the same.’  ‘Ticky-tacky’ is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time. “Reynolds was a folk singer-songwriter and political activist in the 1960s. Nancy Reynolds, her daughter, explained that her mother came up with the song when she saw the housing developments around Daly City, CA built in the post-war era by Henry Doelger, particularly the neighborhood of Westlake.

‘My mother and father were driving South from San Francisco through Daly City when my mom got the idea for the song. She asked my dad to take the wheel, and she wrote it on the way to the gathering in La Honda where she was going to sing for the Friends Committee on Legislation. When Time magazine (I think, maybe Newsweek) wanted a photo of her pointing to the very place, she couldn’t find those houses because so many more had been built around them that the hillsides were totally covered. “Pete Seeger’s rendition of the song is known internationally, and reached number 70 in the Billboard Hot 100. Seeger was a friend of Reynolds, also a political activist, and like many others in the 1960s he used folk songs as a medium for protest.

“The profundity of the satire is attested to by a university professor of the time who said, “I've been lecturing my classes about middle-class conformity for a whole semester. Here’s a song that says it all in 1½ minutes.” I’ve talked about it many times.  Ultimately, I have a feeling that every blog I write about my relationship with Jim makes the same point: He used to delight in teaching me.  The education often came out via some strange factoid or odd bit of trivia that invariably led to a bigger truth or something that he sensed would help me make sense of the wider world. And that was the case with Malvina Reynolds. Jim loved to drive and we were probably heading from SF State past Daly City somewhere down the Peninsula.  I can hear his rasp now: “See all those ticky-tacky houses, Michie!  Ticky-tacky and they all look just the same!  Do ya know who came up with that line? Do ya know what it means? Didya ever hear of Malvina Reynolds?  You should know about her, nobody remembers her but she was a really important songwriter, a class act ….” And so I did learn a bit, though truthfully I didn’t really do much more than store the factoid away in case I needed to out-trivia someone in NYC.  I also really don’t remember ever seeing these other wonderful shots of Malvina that we dug up in the archive.  And I REALLY didn’t understand how her message and point of view continue to resonate.  Until now.

“Little Boxes”
By Malvina Reynolds

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.

There's a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
There's a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 09/13/2012 - 11:16pm

The Rolling Stones 1972: Limited-Edition Prints

Congratulations are in order as Jim Marshall’s “The Rolling Stones 1972” book, featuring a foreward by Keith Richards, intro by Joel Selvin and edited by Team Marsall’s talented, Michelle Dunn Marsh, continues to garner critical acclaim, press and sales. In fact, the book has become a fixture on Amazon’s Best Sellers for Portrait Photography list; the first run has sold out, and Chronicle Books is in the midst of a second printing in time for the holidays.

Here’s a bit from Michelle Dunn Marsh’s contribution to the book that sums up its impact quite nicely: “Though this tour is legendary for its raucous, at times unbelievable offstage behavior, something else is documented here — the camaraderie formed through hours spent waiting in antiseptic greenrooms as a brief calm before the storm of performance: conversations to fill the hours of lounging, waiting to take the stage; the availability of food and, more importantly, liquor; and the lonely, less-glamorous reality of long hours traveling to a location for a brief but powerful ninety minutes in front of the fans.  In less than one week, Marshall captured this reality through images both of and beyond their time.”

West Coast Show Set to Open Oct. 6

While the popular East Coast show at New York City’s Steven Kasher Gallery recently came to a close, images from the book can still be viewed at the innovative and inspiring EMP Museum in Seattle and the show at Jim's West Coast gallery, San Francisco Art Exchange, is getting set to open on Thursday, October 6. Speaking of Jim Marshall, The Rolling Stones and galleries, I thought it would be neat to include with this post of tasty sampling of some of the 12 images from the “The Rolling Stones 1972” book that are available as limited-edition prints at the JMPLLC partner galleries in NYC (Steven Kasher Gallery), San Francisco (San Francisco Art Exchange), and London (Snap Galleries).

And remember when you buy any of these prints you’re buying a certified bit of history and Jim Marshall Photography LLC is the sole authority to provide a Certificate of Authenticity & Provenance from the estate of Jim Marshall.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 8:41pm

A Love Supreme: Jim and the Coltrane Legacy

I was reading the New York Times Sunday magazine recently and came across a lovely little piece on Ravi Coltrane, the son of the brilliant musicians, jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and composer/pianist Alice Coltrane; the piece touted Ravi’s new album: “Spirit Fiction,” and right at the beginning of the story by Zachary Woolfe, I was thrilled to read the following: “ ‘Ambition sometimes gets a little out ahead of you,’ Ravi Coltrane said. He was sitting in his living room in Brooklyn, next to his son’s tiny drum kit, talking about his new album, “Spirit Fiction.”  ‘You start imagining more than you can actually pull off, and you cross that line from possibility into impossibility.’ “On the wall nearby was a framed photo of Barack Obama standing in the White House gazing at a black-and-white photo of another musician, a saxophonist like Ravi. ‘To Ravi,’ it is inscribed. ‘From a huge fan of your father’s.’ ” Of course, I immediately recognized the photo reference and, though I have no way to corroborate it, I deeply feel that the writer is describing the same photo taken by a White House photographer of President Obama looking at Jim Marshall’s very famous 1960 black-and-white portrait of John Coltrane that I blogged about in “Jim, John Coltrane and President Obama” in early 2011.  Here’s an excerpt for those who might have missed it:

“There was a major difference between the persona Jim showed the public – ultra conservative, gun-toting, racism-spewing, lower-class hating, right-wing nut job – and the real Jim, who was the perpetual outsider looking intensely at the world from behind the mask.  Lucky for all of us, Jim learned to take the mask off and hide behind that Leica M4 [and M2s] instead; that was the Jim who loved Coltrane, Miles, Thelonious Monk, too many to name really, and who was loved in return. “After a gig one evening in San Francisco in 1960, Coltrane asked Jim, “How do you get to Berkeley?”  He had a meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle’s legendary music critic Ralph J. Gleason at his Berkeley Hills home the next day and he had no clue how to get there.  Gleason’s bona fides are too numerous to mention (first jazz critic at a U.S. daily newspaper, came up with Monterey Jazz Festival concept, gave Jann Wenner $1,500 to start “Rolling Stone, etc. etc.).  Jim was well aware of Gleason’s crucial role connecting music, culture and politics and, sensing the import of the moment, he offered to drive Coltrane to Gleason’s and was allowed to stay and shoot … and the rest is history. “For the better part of two decades a bit of that history has lived on my walls, lucky gal that I am.  And now a similar Coltrane portrait (an 11” x 14” horizontal version) lives on a wall at the White House.  Jim has a wonderful photo snapped by a White House photographer of President Obama studying the Coltrane portrait intently and on the mat overlay the President has written: “To Jim – I’m a big fan of your work … and Coltrane!” “I will never forget the look on Jim’s face when he stood in the gallery that was his hallway and looked at that photo of his President studying the Coltrane portrait; there was no mask, no barrier, I just saw awe, humility, and incredible color-blind, bipartisan joy.  Jim looked like he had finally come home.”

A Supreme Connection

One of the many classic albums that Jim turned me on to back in the day was John Coltrane’s incredibly moving, “A Love Supreme,” considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.  His love of that recording was one of the first ways I understood that, while Jim was far from church-y, he did have a tremendous sensitivity and a sort of spiritual streak; with me Jim loved to show a belief in life-affirming connections and coincidences, influences and powers beyond our control.  And he delighted in discovering them. It always gives me such joy to remember that moment in 2009 when I was standing with Jim in his hallway watching him watching me appreciate his Coltrane-Obama moment captured so profoundly. Jim’s delight was palpable; it was the joy of knowing that he had played a small but praise-worthy role in capturing moments that inspire and endure far beyond what he or I or John Coltrane or Ralph Gleason could have ever predicted.  Deep down I know that impact was Jim’s dream all along, to make a difference, to love supremely and be loved in return.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 9:47pm

Bright Moments: Jim’s Wonderful Gifts

This year marks only the third time since 1984 that my phone didn’t ring on August 5 to hear a certain unmistakeable voice rasp out “Happy Birthday, Michie!” And then Jim would remind me that he had never missed a year, remind me what a horrible curse it was that he had this affinity for Leos (his ex-wives were both August-born), recount how many years we had known each other and state emphatically that I was stuck with him, no matter what. In the 25 years that I was lucky enough to call Jim my friend, he NEVER missed a birthday of mine … even when I was officially not speaking to him (not that he ever gave a damn!) And often, he would call August 4th at midnight, cackling maniacally to ensure that he was the first to wish it to me. So, since he was on my mind a bit more than usual the past few days, it got me to thinking about some of the gifts he gave me over the years, and then I remembered one of my favorites: a gold pendant designed by Healdsburg Jazz Festival promoter and talented artist, Jessica Felix, that has the words “Bright Moments” stamped on it. When he gave it to me, on HIS birthday – Feb. 3, 1986 – he had to explain that Bright Moments was the name of a famous live double album from multi-reedist jazz great, Rahsaan Roland Kirk (who also happened to be blind) recorded in SF in 1973 and issued in 1974. In fact, Jim took the amazing multiple exposure color image that graced the cover of the album, and I remember Jim was extremely proud of that image. I think he considered it one of the greatest multiple exposures he was able to pull off (all of it in camera, of course) because he felt the image did a great job of capturing Roland Kirk’s vigor and his renowned ability to play more than one sax, flute, nose flute, etc. at a time. Here’s a bit on Roland Kirk’s “Bright Moments” from his wiki page: “Bright Moments is a live album by jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk featuring performances by Kirk with Ron Burton, Todd Barkan, Henry Mattathias Pearson, Robert Shy and Joe Habad Texidor recorded at Keystone Korner, San Francisco in June 1973. “The Allmusic review by Steve Huey states, ‘Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s live club gigs were usually engaging, freewheeling affairs, full of good humor and a fantastically wide range of music. The double album Bright Moments (reissued as a double CD) is a near-definitive document of the Kirk live experience, and his greatest album of the ‘70s. The extroverted Kirk was in his element in front of an audience, always chatting, explaining his concepts, and recounting bits of jazz history. Even if some of his long, jive-talking intros can sound a little dated today, it’s clear in the outcome of the music that Kirk fed voraciously off the energy of the room. Bright Moments empties all the major items out of Kirk’s bag of tricks, providing a neat microcosm of his talents and displaying a consummate and knowledgeable showman. In short, it’s nothing less than a tour de force.”

In rooting around on the “interwebs,” I came across this wonderful quote from the Bright Moments double album that is apparently what Roland Kirk (who was known for his entertaining asides from onstage) said by way of introduction to the song that night:

“You know it’s good to be in a place that feels like you’re in your house, you know. Now, it’s a beautiful thing, we’re glad you people are assembled here with us on this Saturday night ... You know what I mean? You don’t feel like Saturday night people. Some Saturday night people, that’s the only night they get out and they act like it.
Now we would like to think of some very beautiful Bright Moments. You know what I mean?

Bright Moments.
Bright Moments is like eating your last pork chop in London, England, because you ain’t gonna get no more . . . cooked from home.
Bright Moments is like being with your favorite love and you’re sharing the same ice cream dish. And you get mad when she gets the last drop. And you have to take her in your arms and get it the other way.
Bright Moments. That’s too heavy for most of you all because you all don’t know nothing about that kind of love. The love you all have been taught about is the love in those magazines. And I am fortunate that I didn’t have to look at magazines.
Bright Moments.
Bright Moments is like seeing something that you ain’t ever seen in your life and you don’t have to see it but you know how it looks.
Bright Moments is like hearing some music that ain’t nobody else heard, and if they heard it they wouldn’t even recognize that they heard it because they been hearing it all their life but they nutted on it so, when you hear it and you start popping your feet and jumping up and down they get mad because you’re enjoying yourself but those are bright moments that they can’t share with you because they don’t even know how to go about listening to what you’re listening to and when you try to tell them about it they don’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about!
Is there any other Bright Moments before we proceed on?
Bright Moments.
Bright Moments.
Bright Moments is like having brothers and sisters and sisterettes and brotherettes like you all here listening to us.”

Roland Kirk was known for his virtuosity, passionate views, versatility, and affinity for outcasts and other odd ducks … not unlike a certain photographer we all know and miss. And, like Jim always said, once you were in with him, you were family. And that’s as bright as it gets.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Fri, 07/27/2012 - 7:22pm

Notes on the EMP Museum Exhibit: Jim’s Rolling Stones, 1972

As this long, hot summer continues to rock much of the country, the super-cool visual treats from JMPLLC continue to roll as well with the recent launch of the uniquely satisfying “The Rolling Stones 1972, Photographs by Jim Marshall” exhibition at Seattle’s dynamic Experience Music Project Museum. We’ve chosen with this blog to run a few shots of the EMP exhibit to convey how differences in behind-the-scenes decisions, such as printing, framing, and how the show is displayed, can impact the photographer’s original intent and, hence, the viewer’s experience of the image when it’s published and presented in a gallery space. Michelle Dunn Marsh, who handles exhibitions and publications for JMPLLC and served as guest curator for the EMP exhibit, describes the show’s approach which was also tailored for EMP’s groovy, cutting-edge and interactive angle to exhibitions:

“All of photo printing is an interpretation about what the photographer wants the feel of the image to be.  The Palace Laundry color proofs of Jagger are hung side by side to show how ink can totally change the mood of a photograph.  The one on the right, the lighter image, looks like the prints of Jim’s that I had seen, including a dye transfer, which is the most stable form of color photographic print.  Once you achieve what you want in a dye transfer print it will stay that way. “The print on the left is the proof we started with which is just a direct scan from the slide.  It’s much darker and still an interesting photo.  But you can clearly see that, in the one on the right, Jagger looks innocent, perhaps a bit tired and sweet where in the print on the left he looks aggressive.”

One of the main things I remember first learning about photography from Jim back in the day was his reverence for black-and-white images and disdain for his own color work.  Like most of the photographers I have met of his generation, they just really seem very uncomfortable with color. Maybe it was a feel thing and straight-ahead visual preference, or maybe it was that color film was unstable, the photographers had so much less control when turning over the precious negs and slides to a lab and then trusting that the developers wouldn’t screw them up.  For Jim, black and white was the truth and color was … well something far less than that, but I can't help thinking that he would really dig the way that conflict is underscored and dealt with in this great exhibit.

Here’s a wonderfully exuberant recounting of the EMP exhibit’s visual impact from one of the folks at indie-pop mag blog, Three Imaginary Girls: “Since I know next-to-nothing about photography and famous photographers, I had never heard of Jim Marshall before I stepped into the new The Rolling Stones 1972, Photographs by Jim Marshall exhibit. (Obviously, though, I had heard of the Stones). Luckily, guest curator Michelle Dunn Marsh was on hand to tell me all about Jim, share details of the photos, and just generally amaze me. “EMP’s Curatorial Director Jasen Emmons helped it all come together by providing a history of the band—and to complement Marshall’s photos with a lovely centerpiece from the museum’s collection: the original artwork for Exile on Main Street, which is unbelievably awesome. “But enough about that; let’s get to the actual PHOTOS. There are so many to gawk over! I spent a long time looking at each one, and probably still didn’t really SEE everything. Candid snaps of The Stones backstage, images of the band performing (in like, the best. outfits. ever. Eyelet jumpsuit, anyone?), and a few publicity photos: one of my favorites being Mick in a Palace Laundry tee. I swear to you, hipsters are going to walk into that exhibit and pass out because Mick was setting style trends for them before they were even born.” Michelle Dunn Marsh adds, “Working on this exhibition, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to show not only the fine arts photographs but also the elements of the processes that underscore how we see photography from RC (resin-coated) prints to book proofs to vintage and modern black-and-white silver gelatin prints.

“The exhibit is not only the history of The Stones it’s a little history of photography.  Jim never took museum shows that seriously, but I think he would be tickled to see how pure and powerful his work is in this context.”

And, if you’re lucky enough to make it to the EMP in Seattle before January 6 of next year, you will be, too.

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