Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell at home, Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, 1968

Excerpt about the beautiful Joni Mitchell – buy the book to read more!

“Joni’s lyrics are neither simple nor simplistic; they’re complex and soulful and usually reach the heart of the matter. Joni is also a skilled painter; you can see her work on her website. But unlike other would-be musician-painters she refuses to market or sell them at all. I admire her for that although I would love to publish a book of her paintings; that would be one good way to share them without selling them.”

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson, Bimbo’s 365 Club, San Francisco, 1968

Smokey Robinson thrilled Baron and the rest of the audience when he sang ‘Tracks Of My Tears’ at Bimbo’s in San Francisco. Rolling Stone Magazine places ‘Tracks’ as number 50 of the 500 greatest songs.

Backstage at Bimbo’s

Smokey, one of the greatest R&B singers of all time, in his dressing-room before the show.

Big Brother And The Holding Company

Big Brother & The Holding Company, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1968

Baron photographed Janis Joplin’s band Big Brother And The Holding Company as well as photographing her solo on a number of occasions – you can see why he loved hanging out with them. These group shots were taken at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1968. Janis had just come from the dentist – you can see her holding her face but not quite covering that big smile.

Frank Zappa & Groupies

Frank Zappa at home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, 1968

One collection of groupies we decided to photograph was the GTOs, a Frank Zappa project. Some were beautiful, some were exotic, some were eccentric. They were the Girls Together Outrageously or Occasionally or Orally, pretty much anything starting with an “O.” Zappa put them on stage and he produced an album with them (Permanent Damage) that is almost impossible to endure. There were seven GTOs: Miss Pamela, Miss Mercy, Miss Cynderella, Miss Christine, Miss Lucy, Miss Sparky and Miss Sandra.

Sally Mann

Sally Mann, ‘Groupie’ San Francisco, 1968

The lead story in Rolling Stone issue #27 was entitled ‘Groupies and Other Girls’. Sally Mann always considered herself one of the ‘Other Girls’, and I agree. There was a certain elegance and style about her, as there were with most of the women I photographed for that issue. But there was something else, too – Sally certainly didn’t behave like a groupie, she was reserved and confident and quiet. And when she married Spencer Dryden of the Jefferson Airplane she was a blushing, self-assured bride; I know because I photographed the wedding.

Other groupies had drug problems… some never recovered from them. Drugs were so much a part of the scene back then. During the groupie interviews we learned how they would chase after a rock star and get into his bed in his hotel room or wherever he was staying when he was on tour. For the groupies that was, of course, a central step in the chase, but the most important element – and they almost all admitted this to us – was when they would pick up the phone in the hotel room, call their friends and say, “You’ll never guess where I am.”

I lost track of Sally, heard stories about her various ‘problems’ and didn’t really try to make contact again. In the new book, my recounting of her life between my Rolling Stone days and hers was based upon snippets of information from the ‘Groupie hot line’ and an occasional email from her. Of course, I should have asked her about her journey before we went to press. The other day I finally did, and this is her tale.

“Here’s the scoop: After I was arrested in 1980 or so for failing to return or pay the bill on a rental car (Hey – what can I say?! I learned everything I know on the road!), my father and the inaptly-named Judge Love decided that I would benefit from a brief stint at the State Hospitality Suite. I did learn some eye-opening lessons there, just not the ones they had in mind. I was incarcerated for less than a year, was a Trustee, and did take college courses to keep from going starkers. It wasn’t until 1985, though, well after my release, when the real miracle happened – I finally got sober in AA, to the eternal gratitude of my family, the constabulary, the general population, and the Universe at large.

In 1986, I married a local musician and eventually became seriously interested in practicing law. I returned to college while working as a paralegal, and was graduated summa cum laude from the University of Saint Thomas. In my junior year there, through a stunning combination of good fortune and skull-numbing hard work, I was nominated by the University for, and was eventually named, a Truman Scholar, which is a fairly prestigious deal to people who care about such things. At any rate, this was a real watershed turn of events – it led to my receiving a full-boat free ride to law school and my nomination for a Woodruff Fellowship, not to mention a serious chunk of change. But all this has to do with scholarship and public service, not resurrecting the morally-impaired.

And, of course, I never would have been admitted to the Bar with a felony conviction so I had been simultaneously pursuing a pardon while trying to keep my eyes on the prize: admission to the State Bar. Thanks chiefly to the incredible fellowship of AA, my pardon application received hundreds of letters of support, and in 1993, one day before law school apps were due, I received a full gubernatorial pardon from the luminous Ann Richards. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she was a sober alcoholic herself, as was the Lieutenant Governor at the time, but I am not fretting over details – the pardon negated my conviction, and I was eligible to practice law. In 1996, I graduated with honors from Emory, was admitted to the Order of the Coif, and passed the Bar exam.

While my pardon meant that I did not have to reveal the conviction to employers, etc., because it no longer exists, I have never really worked very hard at hiding it and don’t really care too much anymore who knows about it; it’s kind of a cautionary morality tale for anyone who cares to take heed. The p-word just looks kind of jarring on the page these thirty years later, but God and everyone else knows that I can always use a dose of humility. At any rate, I owe my life to AA and the Democrats, and I don’t intend to abandon either one any time soon. Or you.

So do with this what you will – if you want to put this letter on the website, please do, or shorten it if you need to. I am just crazy about you and so honored to be in ANY book of yours. GROUPIE-SCHMOOPIE!

Keep clicking, dude, you RULE.

Love always, Sally”

Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim, Los Angeles, 1968

Baron will make one stop in Los Angeles on the Cosmic World Book Tour on July 14th. Hosted by the Duncan Miller Projects Gallery, Baron will be signing copies of the Rolling Stone Years book.

The book is packed with personal stories. We’re sharing snippets here to encourage you to buy it!  “I was worried about how this session might turn out. Tiny was a mercurial eccentric, as eccentric as Zappa but in a different way, so we had to figure out a way to put him at ease; you don’t put Tiny at ease the way you put somebody else at ease, right? So we bought a bouquet of daisies and said, ‘Tiny this is for you,’ and he went crazy, he held them to his chest and he kept smiling and thanking us, smiling and thanking.”

Grace Slick

Grace Slick, San Francisco, 1968

Times do change – “I asked Grace to pose for me in her Girl Scout vest. From that session I got one particularly perfect, really cool photo of her, one that years later, when she started painting, she used as the basis for one of her canvases as well as her website logo.”

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix, Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 1968

“We interviewed him before the concert. He was so quiet!”

Jimi was one of Baron’s absolute favorites to photograph. He always dressed well, he was so photogenic, he was an incredible performer… Read more about shooting Jimi and how Baron sees the music in the new book “The Rolling Stone Years”. “You’d have to work really hard to take a bad picture of Jimi.”

Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg

Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg on the set of Performance, London, 1968

It’s not fair. Really. Whilst complaining that he missed out by not getting a chance to live in Swinging Sixties London, Baron blithely explains how “…after The Who finished work in the studio Pete (Townshend) invited us for dinner and later decided we should go over to the film set in which Mick Jagger was shooting his new movie, ‘Performance’… The relationships were all a little complex; Anita was Keith’s girlfriend who had been with Brian Jones before and was now in a movie doing love scenes with Mick.”

Sigh.