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Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 10/06/2011 - 9:01pm

Feed Your Head

This week’s blog follows up our Jefferson Airplane coverage with a focus on one of Jim’s big-time rock ’n roll queen crushes: Grace Slick .  Just a few years younger than Jim, Grace had it all – looks, talent, charisma, craziness plus the upper crust background (she went to “finishing school” and her Daddy was an investment banker who always wore three piece suits) that, in my opinion, street-kid Jim always hankered for deep down. If you wanted to wrap Jim around your little finger (something I learned a thing or two about though it was two and half decades later) all you had to do was look good and act dangerously -- but in a ladylike sorta way.  And, of course, stick with him through thick and thin. For a time, Grace seemed to fit that bill.  Whether it was guns or drugs (coke, not acid) and booze, Grace and Jim saw eye to eye.  In fact, Jim delighted in recounting how Grace used to stand on the balcony in front of the Airplane’s manse at 2400 Fulton and shoot her shotgun into the air.  It’s hard to relate to now, but apparently having a rifle was perfectly “legal” … not so sure about the shooting it off over Golden Gate Park part of it, though.

No wonder Jim got all googly eyed in her crazy-beautiful presence.  Plus, it didn’t hurt that Grace could write a truly great lyric and sounded like she was singing through a guitar amp from Mt. Olympus. Here’s more from the official Grace page on “In August 1965, Grace read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a new band called Jefferson Airplane. A week later, she and Jerry checked out the band at the Matrix. Deciding that being in a rock band looked like a lot of fun and paid better than modeling, Grace and Jerry soon formed their own band, the Great Society. Jerry played drums, and his brother Darby Slick joined on guitar. With the lineup completed by David Minor (guitar/vocals), the Great Society made its debut at the Coffee Gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach section on October 15, 1965.

“Despite her rather late entry into rock ’n roll, Grace proved herself a talented singer. She attempted to imitate the sound of an electric guitar and developed a unique and forceful singing style. She also discovered a knack for writing songs — ‘White Rabbit’ was one of her first compositions. “Grace has always said that ‘White Rabbit’ was intended as a slap toward parents who read their children stories such as Alice in Wonderland (in which Alice uses several drug-like substances in order to change herself) and then wondered why their children grew up to do drugs. For Grace and others in the ’60s, drugs were an inevitable part of mind-expanding and social experimentation.  With its enigmatic lyrics, ‘White Rabbit’ became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.  Even Marty Balin, Grace’s eventual rival in the Airplane, regarded the song as a “masterpiece.”

By Grace Slick
Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said:
Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head

To understand more fully what Jim saw in Jefferson Airplane and Grace, in particular, check out this link to the band’s kick ass version of “White Rabbit” at Woodstock in 1969 and remember, as Jim would say, logic and proportion aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and then he’d crack himself up.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 09/22/2011 - 9:13pm

Somebody to Love

We’ve noticed that more than a few of you are interested in San Francisco and its seminal music scene of the late ’60s, a time and place and sound that Jim Marshall is synonomous with, and that he captured with a thoroughness and passion that remains unmatched. We’re kicking off a string of blogs focusing on some of his best work from that era, starting with a couple of blogs on one of Jim’s fave subjects (judging by the quantity of film rolls in the archive): The Jefferson Airplane and, of course, the dangerously talented and beautiful Grace Slick (more on her in the next installment). About the shot that leads off this blog and is easily one of the best known ever taken of the Airplane, here is Jim’s to-the-point description from “Not Fade Away”: “This image became a very famous picture and poster of the Jefferson Airplane in 1967 taken in Golden Gate Park for Look magazine.  Clockwise from the bottom: Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Spencer Dryden, Jack Casady, Marty Balin and Paul Kantner.  I took the picture from underneath them all – with a 21mm lens on a Leica M4 with no reflector – because I thought it would be far out.” Formed in 1965 by Marty Balin, these psychedelic rock pioneers represented the first band to go mainstream with both critics and the buying public alike.  Powerful music journalist Ralph Gleason, the jazz critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, heralded them as “one of the best bands ever” after seeing them play later that year at the Matrix, a former pizza parlor on Fillmore Street that Balin tranformed into a club while he was putting the Airplane together.

According to the Jefferson Airplane Wikipedia entry: The band performed at all three of the most famous American rock festivals of the 1960s — Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969) and Altamont (1969) — as well as headlining the first Isle of Wight Festival.  The band’s recordings were internationally successful, and they scored two U.S. Top 10 hit singles and a string of Top 20 albums.  Their 1967 record “Surrealistic Pillow” is regarded as one of the key recordings of the so-called Summer of Love and brought the group international recognition.  Two chart hits from the album, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” are listed in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The Airplane also benefited greatly from appearances on national network TV shows such as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show on NBC and The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS.  The Airplane's famous appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour performing “White Rabbit”  and “Somebody to Love” was videotaped in color and augmented by developments in video techniques.  It has been frequently re-screened and is notable for its pioneering use of the Chroma key process to simulate the Airplane’s psychedelic light show.

And from Jim’s amazing “Monterey Pop” book, come these Airplane recollections by music writer and SF Chronicle critic Joel Selvin: “Jefferson Airplane was the most anticipated act of the evening, “Surrealistic Pillow,” the band’s second album, had cruised into the Top Ten only weeks before, and the first of the album’s two hit singles, “Somebody to Love,” was one of the most popular records in the country that very week, with “White Rabbit” waiting in the wings. “Even more important, the Airplane was perceived as the spearhead of this new San Francisco sound.  The band’s original female vocalist, Signe Anderson, had been replaced by Grace Slick, a former model turned hippie queen, both beautiful and talented, the very makings of San Francisco’s first rock star.  Her soaring voice blended like colors in a sunset with former folksingers Marty Balin, who first organized the band less than two years earlier, and Paul Kantner.  Instrumentally, the songs were supported by the imaginative folk-blues lead guitar of Jorma Kaukonen, the innovative, adverturous bass of Jack Casady, and propulsive drumming by Spencer Dryden.  After spending several days prior to the festival resting at the Buddhist retreat in Tassajara Hot Springs, down the coast from Monterey, the Airplane delivered a spirited 47 minute performance.”

Don't You Need Somebody ...

The only Jefferson Airplane (more like post-Starship) memory I have of my time with Jim was in 1984 or thereabouts, when we went to see Marty Balin perform (either as a solo act or in the beginnings of forming a new band with Jack Casady and Paul Kantner, called KBC Band).  I don’t remember the club we went to that night, but what I recall with utter clarity is they rocked pretty hard for a “bunch of old farts” as Jim would say, and that at one point I was eying the dance floor which was sort of jumpin’. Jim, the notorious non dancer that he was, threw his camera down (an unheard of move) on the lap of a friend of mine who had come with us and told her to never take her eyes off it or he would kill her, grabbed my hand and dragged us out into the middle of the bouncin’ crowd “to boogie.”  He insisted it was the first time he had EVER danced, he sort of did these strange jabby, punching motions up in the air with his hands and kind of made these little grunting noises as he thrust his hips to and fro, before he grabbed me and spun me around.  I truly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or both.  Touching, endearing, hysterical, head-spinning and a little dangerous, that was the Jim I knew and, come to think of it, those words capture the Airplane he knew, too.

Stay tuned for more on Grace Slick in the next Jefferson Airplane blog installment.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 09/08/2011 - 8:21pm

The Jack & Jim Gallery

As the debut of the Jack & Jim Gallery draws near (next Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011), we wanted to offer some insights about the vignette display cases that were assembled so lovingly by Amelia Davis and Bonita Passarelli in the new Jack Daniels-sponsored gallery at Austin City Limits Live. For those unable to see it in the flesh, the installation of the 30-photo exhibit was movingly captured in this video now on YouTube. The displays illuminate the stories behind some of Jim’s most enduring images via memorabilia that Jim (wisely) hung on to from those times when he was at the height of his professional powers.

The Monterey International Pop Music Festival, 1967

Earlier this summer I posted two blogs on Jim’s work at Monterey with a special focus on one of his most world-changing shots: Jimi Hendrix burning his beloved Fender Stratocaster for the first time.  This case commemorates Jim's astonishing output from that seminal summer festival.

For me, the most touching part of this display case is Jim’s “uniform,” that classic goldenrod-colored corduroy jacket and those beat up desert boots.  In addition, the case holds two camera bags filled with assorted light meters and lens filters and supplemental camera gear, and other “paraphernalia” such as a “joint lighter” that still contains peppermint-scented lighter fluid. There are also shell casings from his .45 Magnum, rifle bullets, pocket knives, fragile stickers, toothpaste and brushes, binoculars, his belt with knife camouflaged in the belt buckle, a happy face smiley button and lots more.  This wealth of tools and toys is accompanied by Jim’s personal copy of “Monterey Pop” and a drawer filled with copies of 60 proof sheets from his work documenting the three days of the festival. To learn more check out these blogs from our festival coverage earlier this summer: Down in Monterey and More Monterey Pop: Shake, Rattle and BURN!

The Allman Brothers Band At the Fillmore East 1971 Album Cover

This case highlights Jim’s critical work for the band’s double live album that went platinum in three formats: vinyl, CD, and cassette tape.  Jim received a framed piece with a platinum-coated vinyl album, CD and cassette from the label, Island/Mercury, in gratitude for Jim’s concept and design for the album cover.  It is 49th among Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and is often cited as one of the most well-known live recordings in history. Here’s the story behind the album cover as Jim told it: Notoriously difficult to photograph, Jim could not get the band to smile.  Finally, after pleading with them to smile, he finally threatened to hold back the coke since Jim was the dealer of the day. They all burst out with big grins and that became the front image for the album.

The back of the album has the Allmans’ roadies in the same positions in front of the cases.  The exhibit display case includes copies of the proof sheets from the shoot as well as the original album, cassette and CD from Jim’s personal collection. From the Jack & Jim Gallery press release: Showcasing 30 original photographs, this exhibit captures candid and performance images of the some of most recognizable artists in the world, including Johnny Cash, flipping the bird at San Quentin Prison; Jimi Hendrix, burning his Strat; Carlos Santana; Mick Jagger; The Beatles; Willie Nelson; Bob Dylan; Jim Morrison; Janis Joplin and many more.  The featured works include prints from Jim’s personal collection that have never been seen before in a public venue. I’m so glad that the exhibition is going to be up for the next three years, I can’t think of a better field trip than to go to Austin City Limits for a great live show and pop up to check out the Jack & Jim Gallery exhibit and these fascinating vignettes, which have now become a must-see for me.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Fri, 09/02/2011 - 2:41am

North Carolina Blue Grass Festival 1969

What better way to round up our summer celebrating some of the best- and least-known of Jim’s festival work than with these shots documenting one of the first big bluegrass gatherings back in the day: The North Carolina Bluegrass (some tickets and handbills spelled it Blue Grass) Music Festival at Camp Springs, N.C. over Labor Day Weekend in 1969. And to think, just a couple of weeks earlier Jim had been at Woodstock … if ever there was proof needed that Jim’s ears and eyes knew no boundaries this would be it: one week he’s pulling all nighters to grab early dawn shots of Jefferson Airplane and The Who and the next he’s noticing the beautiful symmetry of a line of Good Ole Boys with stand up basses in North Carolina.  You gotta love it.

Thanks to the “interwebs” I found a few bluegrass enthusiast sites that offer some wonderful info on a festival that, frankly, I had never heard of before I saw these shots from the JMP archive.  What I have been able to glean so far is that a booking agent and festival promoter named Carlton Haney, who some considered the “P.T. Barnum of country music” had been putting on these bluegrass gatherings over Labor Day since the mid-’60s.  In 1969 he bought a bunch of acres at Camp Springs, N.C. near his hometown of Reidsville to allow for a permanent home for the festival – including the dedication of North Carolina Bluegrass Park – and Jim was there to document it all.

The festival’s lineup featured some of the biggest acts working at the time, thanks to Haney’s connections, including Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Josh Graves and many, many others, all of them now viewed as main cogs in keeping bluegrass and “old timey” music alive and thriving 40 years later. “I believe Bill Monroe’s the only man you can learn bluegrass from… You can sing off-key until you go to singing with him for about a year and a half and you’ll sing just as true as a dollar and you’ll play an instrument just true as a dollar.  He’s the only man in the world can make you do that.  What Bill Monroe plays is bluegrass, and what everybody else plays is just a copy of him.”-- Carlton Haney in an interview in Muleskinner News, September, 1971.

Also of great use to someone with a burgeoning bluegrass jones is The Bluegrass Blog, where I uncovered an invaluable audio archive (recorded on reel-to-reel with mics on stage) from the 1969 festival on the site of West Virginia banjo picker and microbiology professor Ken Landreth. But for me, the first time I really “got” bluegrass was the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou” when I heard Ralph Stanley’s version of “Man of Constant Sorrow.”  Of course, it didn’t hurt that Stanley’s world-worn sexy voice was coming out of George Clooney’s face as lead singer of the “Soggy Bottom Boys,” but I digress.

On October 13, 2009 on the Diane Rehm Show, Dr. Ralph Stanley of the Stanley Brothers, born in 1927, discussed the song, its origin, and his effort to revive it: “ ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ is probably 200 or 300 years old. But the first time I heard it when I was y’know, like a small boy, my daddy – my father – he had some of the words to it, and I heard him sing it, and we – my brother and me – we put a few more words to it, and brought it back in existence. I guess if it hadn’t been for that it’d have been gone forever. I’m proud to be the one that brought that song back, because I think it’s wonderful."

“Man Of Constant Sorrow”

I am a man of constant sorrow
I’ve seen trouble all my days
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was borned and raised
(The place where he was borned and raised)

For six long years I’ve been in trouble
No pleasure here on earth I find
For in this world I’m bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now
(He has no friends to help him now)

It’s fare thee well my own true lover
I never expect to see you again
For I’m bound to ride that northern railroad
Perhaps I’ll die upon this train
(Perhaps he’ll die upon this train)

You can bury me in some deep valley
For many years where I may lay
Then you may learn to love another
While I am sleeping in my grave
(While he is sleeping in his grave)

Maybe your friends think I’m just a stranger
My face you never will see no more
But there is one promise that is given
I’ll meet you on God’s golden shore
(He’ll meet you on God’s golden shore)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

This week’s blog is also our way of giving a shout out to the 10th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival slated for Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at Golden Gate Park.  The free festival is subsidized by SF venture capitalist Warren Hellman, a halfway decent banjo picker in his own right, and has drawn upwards of 750,000 people over the 3 days.

Among a veritable milky way of rock, indie, and country stars, Ralph Stanley (still going strong at 84 years young) & the Clinch Mountain Boys, will perform -- proving once again that bluegrass is not just good for the soul but the body and mind as well.  

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/25/2011 - 8:13pm

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic 1973

An outdoor music festival in the dusty, white-hot heat of Texas in July?  Willie Nelson’s reprise of the Dripping Springs Reunion in 1973 was supposed to be a “country Woodstock,” the launch pad for hippies and rednecks to do the whole “kumbaya” thing, musically, socially, and whatever other which way.

Instead, what this sun-baked country music party really launched was the “Outlaw” movement in country music led by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, among others.  And Willie’s Picnic has been a more or less annual, inspiring, brain-frying musical happening ever since.

I have to confess that Jim’s love of country music pretty much escaped me back in the day; it was the early ’80s, after all.  So I don’t have a lot of personal memories to share with “you all,” but I do recall there was one “country” quirk of his that drove me a bit mad but also always made me smile.

It was almost a ritual with Jim, he’d have a few sips of his favored whiskey of the moment and there it would be: a rather pronounced twang in his voice, and off we’d go, him quoting Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver lyrics, his eyes getting moist, his hands a bit twitchy.  When Jim was like that it was always such a perfect combo of bravado and misery, him reveling in his “dark times” with just enough levity and vision to see that the light at the end of the tunnel most likely was an oncoming train.

As always, when I’m stumped for specific Jim recollections or personal insights, I turn to those folks on the web that are expert in the subject and, after some searching about, I thankfully came upon a bit of an info mother lode.  

In a blog entry on, someone with the moniker “triggerman” makes the case for how this 1973 coming together catalyzed by a bunch of Texans is as good a date as any to tag as the birth of the “Outlaw movement” in country music:

“Being a country music Outlaw has nothing to do with having tattoos.  It has nothing to do with motorcycles, or how much you cuss in your music or reference drugs.  It has nothing to do with rock influences in your music, nothing to do with if you “party” a lot or live an “Outlaw” lifestyle.  Being an Outlaw has very little to do with the music itself. You can play traditional country, neo-traditional country, country-rock.  There is NO definable Outlaw country sound.  As long as it is country music, it can be Outlaw music.

“Outlaw” is a business term more than anything.  Yes, all the above can be and have been elements of the overall Outlaw culture, but neither Willie, Waylon, or Kris had tattoos, rode motorcycles, and none of them were big drinkers.  What they had in common with Outlaws that WERE big drinkers like Johnny Paycheck, or that rode motorcycles and had tattoos like David Allan Coe, was that they had all fought for creative control of their music from the country music establishment, and won it. THAT is what makes a country music artist an Outlaw.”  

And from the Austin Statesman's history of the Picnics: “Willie was unfazed that the Dripping Springs Reunion had lost money.  He wanted his own outdoor festival and, as March had already passed by, settled on the Fourth of July. He returned to the Dripping Springs ranch that had hosted the Reunion, this time bringing 40,000 hippies, rednecks and the rest of the Willie crowd.  The Picnic lost money, but launched a Texas tradition.

“Journalist Jan Reid paints a broad picture of the Picnic in his book: ‘The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock,’ (m3 note: this book is a must-read if you want to truly understand the importance of these events) but Billy Porterfield said it shorter in a 20-year look back in the Statesman: “It was miserable and it was great, one of the glorious heathen stomps between the Americas of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy and Ronald Reagan.  Many had come the evening before and spent the night passing stories and hits around campfires.”

More on upcoming "Jack & Jim" exhibit

In fact, Jan Reid’s 1974 “Redneck Rock” book mentioned earlier in this blog is often given credit for inspiring the nationally popular and long-running PBS series “Austin City Limits,” which turns a much-deserved spotlight on the Austin music scene that gave birth to, and still nourishes, the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration that Jim so wonderfully captured in these photos.

Speaking of, the “Jack & Jim” permanent 30-print exhibition, which will officially launch this Sept. 14 at a gallery at Austin City Limits' new live venue, promises to be a one-of-a-kind event, with Carlos Santana (longtime dear friend of Jim’s) on the bill that night.  Check out this great, and surprisingly moving, video of the installation of the “Jack & Jim” exhibit.  Come to think of it, in honor of Jim’s festival work, I’m gonna wear my desert boots today.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 8:53pm

The Dripping Springs Reunion 1972

And now for something completely different … Monterey Pop and Woodstock are tough acts to follow, festival-wise, so we thought we’d change it up a bit and focus over the next few weeks on some early and legendary country, western and bluegrass music gatherings, starting with The Dripping Springs Reunion of 1972.

This seminal country music festival, which Jim’s photos document so wonderfully, happened on a ranch near Dripping Springs in Hays County Texas in March 17-19, 1972 and inspired the (mostly) annual Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic.

There’s not a lot out there on this first Dripping Springs, which seemed to happen a bit under the radar and remains somewhat misunderstood.  Compounding my research challenge, my musical focus did not really include country or western (quite the contrary!) when I was with Jim, so he didn’t spend much time trying to fill in the blanks for me.

Luckily, the web came through again, and I was able to uncover a decent chronology of Willie’s Fourth of July picnics, which gives proper due to this original event.  Here’s the excerpt from the Austin American-Statesman online.

“The Dripping Springs Reunion was, essentially, the Picnic prototype.  Roy Acuff, for one, was excited about the idea, proclaiming it could ‘turn the entire country music industry completely around’ and had more ‘potential as a lasting event’ than the Newport Jazz Festival (which is still going strong).

The Reunion attracted 25,000 fans over three days, but promoters had planned for as many as 75,000 a day. Despite later reports, it was not a Willie Nelson-organized event — a press release and early newspaper stories didn’t even mention that he was part of the lineup.

“LINEUP: Included Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow and Tex Ritter.

“QUOTE: ‘The first reunion was a success in every way but financially,’ bragged one promoter to the American-Statesman.  That, apparently, was enough.  Despite brave talk, Dripping Springs Reunion II didn’t happen.”

You can see by these shots that Jim had a tremendous connection with Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Doug Sahm, Billie Joe Shaver and so many more of the musicians who were such linchpins of the rapidly evolving country scene, away from sequins and crinoline and toward black leather and Jack Daniels.  Jim used to always talk about how comfortable he was with these guys, that he must have been from Texas in another life.  Maybe it was his Assyrian-Armenian roots that went back to the farms in the San Joaquin Valley or the fact that he was a natural-born outlaw himself, but he really felt at home with these folks.  And the shots show it.

Austin City Limits Live: The “Jack & Jim” Gallery

In other Texas and Jim-related news, here’s an update on the next Jim Marshall Photography exhibit that I posted on our JMPLLC Facebook page recently:

Jim Marshall Photography LLC is extremely psyched to announce a partnership with Jack Daniels and Austin City Limits Live: The “Jack & Jim” Gallery, set to debut on Sept. 14, 2011. With 30 original photos from the JMP archive – including iconic faves of Jimi, Johnny Cash, Janis, Dylan and more – “Jack & Jim” will run ’til Fall 2014 and marks the longest-running public display of Jim Marshall’s work to date.

We will be posting more on “Jack & Jim” in upcoming blogs.  And be sure to stay tuned for next week’s installment on Dripping Springs 1973, and the birth of  “Outlaw Music” as seen through Jim’s lens.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/11/2011 - 7:47pm

Woodstock: Half a Million Strong

Today marks the final edition of our Woodstock ’69 coverage and what better way to round things up than with this shot of Jim and yet another gorgeous mystery blonde (noted only as “Sally” on the print which was uncovered and graciously provided to us by Aaron Zych at Morrison Gallery).  This shot was taken by musician and extraordinary music photographer in his own right, Henry Diltz.

Henry was working for Michael Lang, one of the Woodstock promoters, and had been in Bethel documenting the festival preparation for weeks before the magical musical madness ensued.

He was lovely enough to give me some time on the phone the other day to share the story behind this shot and other recollections of Jim at Woodstock: “That’s Jim with Sally Mann.  I knew Sally from when she used to hang out down in LA and I was in the Modern Folk Quarter at The Trip club on Sunset Blvd.  She was a teenybopper back then.

“I’m pretty sure this shot was taken the second day before the Airplane played.  I remember the stage was huge, like the deck of an aircraft carrier, made of these brand new white, wooden planks.  There was Jim with all those cameras around his neck.  I was based in LA and had seen him around at other festivals and gigs, he was a constant presence and just seemed to always be there, but I honestly can’t remember where or when I met Jim ... and then there he was at Woodstock.

“He was really excited to show me this lens he had, we both were shooting Nikons (Jim was using Nikons for his color work at the time) and he had this huge 500m lens that only went to f8 wide open.  He knew it would be a perfect lens for me as I was shooting Ektachrome 64.  He handed it to me, said, “Here, try it out!”  I put it on my Nikon.  The Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe McDonald, Bill Graham … everybody was just hanging out around the stage before their sets.

“I took a few shots with it of the musicians and folks here and there, hanging around, but then we both had to get back to work, there was just so much going on, so many photos to shoot!  But that’s when I took the shot of Jim and Sally Mann, just hanging out off the side of the stage at Woodstock.”

Here’s another shot of Jim at Woodstock, plus some lovely thoughts by Henry posted after Jim’s passing early last year.  Henry is a class act.

Why Jim Didn’t Shoot Jimi at Woodstock

Talking with Henry triggered another Jim at Woodstock memory for me, ironically about photos that don’t exist.  Henry recalled: “I had a hotel room a few miles down the road where I was staying, and I drove a station wagon and parked on the grounds behind the stage.  But after the crowds showed up, there was no way to get out to the hotel.

“I remember by Sunday I was totally exhausted and decided to grab a few hours of sleep in my station wagon, and then I suddenly woke up Monday morning and ran out to the stage when I heard festival MC Chip Monck’s voice announcing Jimi Hendrix.  I thought Jim had already left.”

But Jim was still there, sort of.  Jim told me that he was awake for three days and three nights straight.  His spirit was still willing but that his mind and his body had finally decided to call it a day.  No amount of “artificial stimulation” could keep him going.  Also, Jim was driving a Triumph Spitfire at Woodstock (as we showed in this earlier car-related blog), and thus he didn’t have the luxury of grabbing a power nap in the back of a station wagon like Henry.  Instead, Jim literally passed out flat on his back on the side of the stage.

If you watch the “Woodstock” movie, you can see that the crowd is seriously thinned by then, down from a half a million to around 180,000, when Hendrix finally made his way onto the stage as the last act that Monday morning.  But that doesn’t stop Jimi from seriously kicking ass for two hours (reportedly the longest set of his career). And where was Jim?

“I was practically in a coma from exhaustion and somebody threw a tarp over me.  I missed Jimi’s whole set,” he recalled.  I still remember the frustration in Jim's eyes when he told me about it, how he then had to drag his dejected, reeking, exhausted, unwashed self back to his motel that he hadn’t seen in four days; he ordered a glass of orange juice, ran a scalding hot bath, got in the tub and slept there for hours and hours, never touching the orange juice.

Jim pretended he was pissed he slept through Jimi because of all the money he could have made, but I know it's because he missed the incendiary set and Jimi's evocative version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."  Even decades later, with thousands of hero shots to his credit, Jim was still fixated on the one that got away.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/04/2011 - 7:40pm

More Woodstock Moments

Our next Woodstock ’69 festival installment offers up more rare and unseen images from Jim’s voluminous work generated during those three (well, really four considering it all ended on Monday morning) frantic, freakish and fantastic days in August. I noted in last week’s Woodstock blog that Jim was on assignment for Newsweek, which may go some ways to explaining his extraordinary attention to detail in shooting all the action that was happening around, behind and in front of the stage, as well as the usual suspects kicking ass and taking names (as Jim would say) on the stage.

We saw Jim's "immersion approach" to documenting festivals at Monterey Pop, where performers, friends, fans, groupies intermingled at will, strolling the grounds, everything just too mellow.  But at Woodstock it seemed the sheer number of people, bands, equipment, media plus the precariousness of the venue (size of acreage involved, lack of amenities, the last-minute changes), combined with a couple of good old-fashioned New York summer flash rainstorms, made for a much more challenging time. And Jim, as always, was in the thick of it.

So here is another batch of great images from Jim's Woodstock plus a list of performers.  For information on each set, check out this list of performances or click on each performer's name in the list below. Thirty-two acts performed over the course of the festival:

Friday, August 15
Richie Havens
Swami Satchidananda – gave the invocation for the festival
Bert Sommer
Ravi Shankar
Tim Hardin
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez

Saturday, August 16
Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Keef Hartley Band
The Incredible String Band
Canned Heat Mountain
Grateful Dead
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band
Sly & the Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane

Sunday, August 17 to Monday, August 18
The Grease Band
Joe Cocker
Country Joe and the Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Johnny Winter featuring his brother, Edgar Winter
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 07/28/2011 - 8:50pm

Woodstock 1969: Get Ourselves Back to the Garden

Though Monterey Pop generated my favorite of Jim’s festival documentation, the most over-the-top festival for social impact, size of crowd, quality of vibe and quantity of mud, plus nausea-inducing porta-potties was (conga drumroll please): 1969’s Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Held Aug. 15-18 on 600 or so acres leased from Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near Bethel, NY (which is more than 40 miles southwest of Woodstock, NY.  Guess the “Bethel Festival” just didn’t have the right ring to it.), the Woodstock festival was three days of cultural and musical experimentation, melded with a very, very heavy dose of, well, doses.

Over the next three blogs we’re going to highlight some of Jim’s prodigious outpouring of work from the original Woodstock festival.  Along with a smattering of iconic images we have dug a bit deeper in the archives to uncover many not-yet-seen images that capture what it was like to be there from all perspectives, onstage, offstage, behind the scenes, between the toes POV that only Jim would think to notice.  He was reportedly a dervish of non-stop shooting until he collapsed in a heap onstage sometime during day three (more on that later).

During the on-and-off again rainy weekend, nearly half a million people “watched” as 32 acts did their thing during an event that is (debatably) regarded as world-changing, but was certainly without argument seen as music-world-changing. On assignment for Newsweek magazine, Jim seemed to bring an extra focus to capturing the energy of the crowd, including the incredibly striking shot of the technicolor masses that opens this blog post.  Jim said he had to climb up one of the huge lighting scaffolds bracketing  the stage to get this bird’s eye view, taken with a wide angle “fisheye” lens (I think a 21 mm?).  This shot was used as the centerpiece of the 1970 live three-album set, “Woodstock: The Original Soundtrack and More”.

A bit afraid of heights, Jim said that he was dosed with acid by the Grateful Dead earlier in the day and that was the only way he had the guts to climb up on the stanchion and get this now world-famous shot. In doing my research I came across this quote, originally published in The New Times Watkins Glen Edition, July 28, 1973, from Max Yasgur’s wife Mimi. “Woodstock was no achievement for Max,” she recalls.  “The festival was just an extraordinary event that widened his experience in life because of his contact with these people.”  The man, a successful farmer and staunch Republican, is best characterized by a comment he once made to her: “When I decide that I have to drive by someone in need of help and not stop, that's not the kind of world I want to live in.” Joni Mitchell’s song "Woodstock" commemorated the event and became a huge hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who played together for only the second time at Woodstock.  I think it does a terrific job of summing up the ethos and pathos of the times, almost as good as Jim's photos.


I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going

And this he told me I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm
I'm going to join in a rock 'n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
I'm going to try an’ get my soul free
We are stardust We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion-year-old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 07/21/2011 - 9:46pm

More Monterey Pop: Shake, Rattle and BURN!!

OK, you all asked for more, more, more Monterey Pop photos so in this week’s festival fantasia we break out the heavy guns (so to speak), starting off with Jimi offering up his ultimate sacrifice, burning one of his prized Fender Stratocasters at the climax of his incendiary version of “Wild Thing,” changing his career, and quite possibly the world, in one hot, feedback-drenched stroke. Like nearly every blog I’ve written dealing with Jim’s monstrously large and diverse body of work, there is so much to say about each image that it beggars the imagination, and I’ve never been quite as tongue tied as I am over the work he produced during these three historic, fog-inflected days in June down in Monterey.  If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s blog for our first installment of Monterey Pop classics.

I thought I’d turn to SF Chronicle music writer Joel Selvin’s words from his text written to accompany Jim’s gorgeous highlights in their 1992 book “Monterey Pop.” From the book’s intro about what Jimi said to explain his offering that fateful night: “People say about us how we couldn’t make it here, so we go to England and America doesn’t like us ‘cause our feet’s too big, we got fat mattresses and wear golden underwear. Ain’t no scene like that, brother. … I could sit up here all night and say thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish I could just grab you, man, and just …(lips smacking) … one of them things, one of those scenes.  But, dig, I just can’t do that.  So what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna sacrifice something that I really love – thank you very much for Bob Dylan’s grandmother. … This is for everybody here.  This is the only way I can do it.  So we’re gonna do the English and American combined anthem together. … Don’t get mad.  This is it.  There’s nothing I can do more than this.  Ooh, look at those beautiful people out there.”

Words to burn by, indeed. Anybody who hung out with Jim and looked at these shots heard those stories. Here are two of my favorites: -- Jimi with his arm in the air: Nobody was there except Jim and Jimi and  Al Kooper, assistant stage manager.  This was the first moment when Jim realized a few things: there were three Jim Marshalls on the stage, him, James Marshall Hendrix and the stacks of Jim Marshall amps; Jim was again outsmarting everyone by not heading to dinner and drinks like the rest of the photographers and crews but hanging around to see what would happen. And, Jim had just witnessed (and bonded indelibly with) the future, a musical talent so original and empowered that Jim told me it actually stopped his breath.  He said it felt like when he heard Miles or Coltrane’s sheets of sound.

-- Otis Redding’s set:  One of my favorite memories of Jim is him telling me about Otis Redding at Monterey.  “It was late and everybody was heading out of the seats, nobody knew really who the fuck this guy was or why they should care.  Booker T and the MGs were backing him up and had played an intro and then, all of a sudden, Otis hits the stage running out at top speed in that electric blue-green suit, WHAM!” And with this Jim would always stand up and stomp his little penny-loafer-wearing feet as hard as he could, one-two, one-two, yelling “WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!  Otis just blasted out on to the stage singin’ Sam Cooke’s ‘Shake’ at the top of his lungs like twice as fast as it was normally played.  Oh my god!!!!  People just stopped in their tracks in the aisles like they were hit by a freight train.  The man was a consummate performer at the top of his game!  I consider it a true honor that I was there to see it.”

Then he would get real quiet, real quick and always add shaking his head, “Six months later he was dead.” I also like this sentiment from the Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady quoted by Stephen Peeples in his amazing booklet that accompanies Rhino’s original 1992 Monterey Pop box set: “There was so much love in (Otis), so much giving.  He had this chance to perform in front of an all-white audience. He didn’t try to make it safe. He was right there out in the open, a Memphis singer with his Memphis soul band. … This was not a Motown act. They represented something slicker, more thought out. The Motown acts weren’t as raw and didn’t project sexual overtones like Otis did.  And they were one of the best bands in the world. They made almost all of the tracks for Stax-Volt Records.  People in the music business or who paid attention to music knew about them.  They mirrored what was going on in the times.  It was quite extraordinary.”

By the time I met Jim, Monterey was already 17 years in the past, well in his rearview mirror, but when Jim talked about meeting Jimi Hendrix for the first time, watching Otis Redding steal the show, seeing Janis & Big Brother crash their way to another whole level entirely and The Who trash their way there, it was like he had witnessed it yesterday. He stressed how what was going down around and behind the stage and on the fairgrounds -- hook ups and collaborations both amorous and creative -- were as much, or more, fascinating and ground-breaking and life-changing than what was being well-documented on the main stage throughout those three days. I sure do wish I could have been there with Jim to see it all, the late-nights, the beautiful days, onstage and off in all it's historic glory.  Sometimes, as Jim liked to tell me, it's what happens in the before and after times, during the odd, anticipatory silences and the “negative space” that's most important. In that spirit, we've searched the Monterey archive to gather the following bunch of shots that capture those "Monterey moments" so indelibly.