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Submitted by m3jimphoto on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:14pm

Jim Marshall T-Shirts

Jim’s classic, never-changing taste in clothing is no big secret, all you have to do is look at any shot of him -- whether taken when he’s 20 or 70.  Boot-cut Levi’s or chinos, penny loafers or desert boots, corduroy jacket, and always, always, always a button-down dress shirt over a crew-neck t-shirt.  It was pretty much a work-play uniform that he could go anywhere in, and did.  I’m thinking about clothes and Jim because it’s time to announce he’s got a t-shirt line, courtesy of the folks at Medium Cool. 

This licensing deal, designed to promote Jim as a brand by putting his iconic images on eco-friendly, edgy t-shirts, was in the works right before Jim died last March at which time it was put on hold.  But, the t-shirt line is gaining momentum thanks to the efforts of Ken Watson and Kelly Tindel.  The t-shirts are pigment dyed, made in the U.S. and feature a nice sampling of classic Jim shots from Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop ’67 sound check to John Coltrane in Berkeley in ’60 to John Lee Hooker and Waylon Jennings.  Check out the full featured artist index of t-shirts here.

This venture, with its tagline: Wear a Part of History, is particularly apt because one of the earliest memories I have of Jim was of this magic chest of drawers he had in his bedroom stuffed literally beyond capacity with t-shirts he had collected from tours, shoots, bars, record labels, favorite companies and other artists he had encountered in his work and world travels.  As far as I could tell, Jim never turned a free t-shirt down … unless maybe it was for gun control or prohibition or veganism!  Yet, knowing Jim, he would have found those tees so hysterically ironic I bet he would have worn them proudly. I’m still kicking myself about the Rolling Stones t-shirt Jim wrestled out of that magic drawer and gave me right after we met (a white tee with the classic lips + tongue logo). If my memory serves me right, Jim said it was a backstage shirt for event staff from the ’72 tour.  It was the mid-’80s and I must confess at the time I was way more into Talking Heads and U2 than the Stones.  Jim didn’t really seem to care what I did with it, so I wore that thing until it practically fell off of me, even painting my loft in NYC in it at the very end.  To add insult to injury, I just found a Stones ’72 tour shirt on eBay (asking $998!!) – I know, the hubris of youth, right?

Anyway, my point is simply that Jim loved him some t-shirts and now there are Egyptians wearing Johnny Cash in a crash pad near Cairo’s Tahrir Square and this new t-shirt line is being carried in some of the hipper boutiques in LA like Anonymous Clothing in Venice and Forgotten Saints on Melrose Blvd. and there’s more on the way.

Not too bad for a guy whose classic design and fashion sense didn’t change one iota his entire life, right?  But, then again, Jim always did wear his emotions on his sleeve.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 02/03/2011 - 9:18pm

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Today, Feb. 3, 2011, would have been Jim’s 75th birthday.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Jim was amazingly sweet about some things, and remembering birthdays was toward the top of that list. I remember he would make a big deal about mine and then get rather morose around his own; I chalked it up to the age difference and the struggles to get his career back on track.

Back then, at 48 I know he felt the best was behind him, that he had blown it and couldn’t imagine making it to 50, let alone 74. I don’t think it made sense to him that, even after all of his wild times and debauchery, he was still in such great shape while Duane Allman, Jimi, Janis and a host of others were long gone.

But in quieter times he’d acknowledge that the Assyrian blood in his family was sturdy, lots of long lives, “So you’re stuck with me!!!” And then he’d cackle like a maniac.

When I got fed up with him, more often than not, he would be defiant for a time, then remorseful and elegantly apologize (usually with amazing flowers and hand-written verse on those little yellow legal pads he bought by the gross). He loved to quote from Kris Kristofferson’s The Pilgrim: “He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction / Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.”

That was the deal when you signed up for the Jim experience: up and down, good and bad, light and dark.

Amelia Davis aka DAAAAAAVIS!! -- who Jim has entrusted with his estate and, most importantly, the care of his “children” (his body of work) -- knows all too well that Jim was many different things to different people. Before he passed away in March last year, they were in the early stages of planning a huge bash to celebrate his 75th, maybe music (and booze and beautiful people) at The Great American Music Hall, maybe a big blow out at B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen.

In lieu of that, Amelia had this advice for me: “Instead of some sappy bullshit, why don’t we just use words that describe who Jim was …”

And so we did.  We know this little list just scratches the surface and invite you all to come up with your own words to describe Jim or post classic Jim-isms you might recall (like calling the TV remote “the click-click”), in your comments here and/or on the Jim Marshall Photography LLC Facebook page.

Jim was:

Unpredictable, predictable, erratic, compulsive, impulsive, neurotic, paranoid, fiercely loyal, compassionate, tender, irrational, sensitive, cantankerous, nice, polite, innocent, childish, selfish, rude, romantic, passionate, poetic, giving, a genius, eccentric, caring, an addict, a lesbian at heart … but most of all a friend!!!!

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Wed, 01/26/2011 - 8:46pm

Jim + Michie

I met Jim Marshall in March of 1984. I was a journalism student at SF State in need of a last-minute subject for a “Whatever Happened to…” profile in John Burks’ advanced magazine writing course. I was 19 and, basically, clueless about a lot of things. Like, who the hell was Jim Marshall?

Another j-school student who knew of Jim’s work and his “dark side,” suggested Jim as a subject after I had my first interviewee fall through; I wish I could remember that guy’s name (Steve? Dave? John?) … anyway, he changed my life.

He ran down some of Jim’s highlights and lowlights: - sorta famous - more importantly, INFAMOUS, into guns and coke and booze (incorrect: with the fear of jail time if busted again, at the time he was clean, no guns) - maybe a genius, the best music photographer who ever lived: Woodstock, Hendrix, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, 600 album covers, etc. etc. - just got out of jail for a gun beef with some neighbors in his Union St. apartment building (incorrect: he was released from a work furlough program) - on probation and perhaps homeless, banned from ever stepping foot in Union St. digs (incorrect: he never was on probation and was now living in a great apartment on 16th St.) - paranoid, impulsive asshole (very correct)

Even if I could find him, I was skeptical he would agree to speak to me, a lowly journalism student, but intrigued as hell. Also, I had a rep for being the one writer hanging out with a bevy of photographers. My favorite thing to do as a writer was write evocative copy to accompany photo essays. Even though I didn’t think I had ever seen one of his images (how wrong was I!), I wanted to get his story.

Be careful what you wish for

I began a fruitless search for him with the probation department, parole officers (“Which one? I’ve got four Jim Marshalls in the system and I can’t tell you about any of them.”). Out of desperation I called 411 -- I mean what paranoid felons are listed in the phone book? Two minutes and one forwarded number later, the phone picks up on the second ring and a forceful rasp I would come to know and love – OK, sometimes dread: “YEAH lo!”

Shocked to learn it was, in fact, the correct Jim Marshall, I stammered out the gist of my call. Jim barked out rapid-fire: “Haven’t you heard of the white pages? Of course I’m listed, why wouldn’t I be! You call yourself a journalist! Not so fast, how old are you? Sure, I’ll meet you, but what do you look like? Cadillac Bar. Downtown. 3pm. Don’t be fuckin’ late! And, hey, is John Burks still over at State? We were at Altamont together! How is that tall motherfucker?!! Tell him I said hello!!” He brought a photo box full of B/W proof sheets to the meeting and said he had an idea for a promo poster, probably a book: Jim Marshall Shoots People. I didn’t have the guts to tell him I’d never heard of him. He watched as my eyes got huge at his body of work. He scooted his chair closer, ordered us green Margaritas (for St. Patrick’s Day). Kept trying to hold my hand. I literally could not resolve the strange, horny little man with the Leica over his shoulder and the hundreds of transcendent portraits I was seeing. And I could see, deep in that all-appraising gaze Jim was famous for, that this was big trouble. The very definition of “conflict of interest.” Journalism 101, but he didn’t care. He was in love.

So I went ahead and wrote the profile and tried (unsuccessfully) to keep Jim at arm’s length. John gave me an A and it was slated to be the cover story of the campus quarterly I was art directing, set to run with a portfolio of Jim’s greatest hits. But, Jim was so crazy, and when he couldn’t get what he wanted, he’d threaten to pull his photos. Then I came to my senses and pulled the story. You can’t have it both ways. A picture-perfect lesson in journalism ethics 101. It’s why, to this day, that article has never been published. It used to make him crazy. I used to tell him: I can hold a grudge, too, old man.

Bottom line: He knew that his work was what I might truly love then, now and always, he was just the messenger … nobody ever said he was a stupid man.

It’s more than 25 years since that first meeting and that first, critical lesson. But there were many, many more: Listen to your instincts. Be true to yourself. Don’t bullshit. Keep it simple. Know your equipment. Respect your subject’s trust. Get closer! Protect your work. No. Matter. What.

I would say that I miss him, but I can’t. He’s in my heart and head. His work covers our walls: the first iconic Coltrane portrait, the only Janis and Grace together, the only Thelonious Monk with his family, a rare partial frame of Jimi Hendrix singing in Golden Gate Park, so in focus you see a tiny strand of spit attached to his mic.

Too much to say. Just know that Jim never missed one of my birthdays in 25 years, despite other boyfriends, a husband, my dearest partner Dan, Jim’s advancing years and seriously wavering memory. The sheer constancy of it all. He LOVED reminding me, usually after he’d had a few: “You’re stuck with me forever, Michie, get used to it. It’s the ties that bind, darlin’, the ties that bind.” I used to think it was a threat. I know better know.

Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 01/13/2011 - 11:22am

Jim Marshall Lives!

Welcome to the official blog of Jim Marshall Photography LLC. My name is Michelle Margetts and I’ll be serving as lead writer and editor of this conversation, pulling from my 25-year relationship with Jim and Amelia Davis’ encyclopedic knowledge of him and his body of work and, we hope, your stories, anecdotes and ideas, as well. Jim was without a doubt one of the biggest technophobes I have ever met. He loved beautifully constructed, elegant MACHINES. He always used to love to say (in a very bad Colonel Klink-type accent): “Za Germahns make za best cahz, guns und camerahs in za vorld.” Mercedes, Walther PPK, Leica … you know, that sort of thing. So there was something deeply, primordially disturbing to him about technology and all of its tiny buttons and mice and keyboards and wires (how he HATED the wires!), connecting all these ever smaller boxes with parts too small to see, let alone pull out and fix with a grease gun. Technology flummoxed him, he didn’t TRUST it. The irony of doing a blog and a Facebook page and a Twitter feed about Jim Marshall is not lost on me.

So what’s the point?

Initially, I think it is to offer people who loved and respected him and his work a place to share stories, discover truths, make connections and uncover rare and never-before-seen images from his monstrous and beautiful legacy. Also, of course, it’s an incredibly handy way to keep people up-to-date on all things Jim. Specifically, I will be announcing upcoming exhibitions and gallery events, book projects, print sales, auctions, scholarships and more. Anything and everything that is in the works to protect his legacy and allow his legendary images – and, perhaps more importantly, the huge amount of yet-to-be-discovered work – to reach friends, fans, collectors and new audiences.

Simply put: The point is to keep Jim alive.

To that end, I urge you to bookmark this blog and his official website and, if you’re into “all that facie pages crap and twit shit” as Jim would probably say, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll get the ball rolling soon with the story of how Jim and I met. Please know that we welcome your heartfelt stories and anecdotes to be shared here in the comments section and we are very open to guest blogs once we get the feel of this new place. Feel free to get in touch with me via