Levon Helm

Levon Helm and Rick Danko, The Band, Winterland, San Francisco, 1969 © Baron Wolman

The death of Levon Helm was a sad loss; cancer has taken too many luminaries this year.

In The Rolling Stone Years book, Baron talks about photographing at Winterland in 1969:

“When I photographed The Band in performance on Winterland’s big stage it was virtually impossible to get the entire group into a single frame. I tried from a variety of angles but somehow the five of them were never arranged in such a way that I could fit them all into a good photo at one time. At the larger venues live photography presented considerable challenges, much different from shooting at the smaller clubs.”

Country Joe McDonald Prints

Scanned, original print showing signatures (click to enlarge)

A few weeks ago I obtained these amazing photographs from Country Joe McDonald. The first was taken at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967, the second at the equally legendary Woodstock Music and Art Festival in August of 1969. As you can see, both photos were signed by Country Joe and my friend Super Star photographer, Jim Marshall. Not only that, both men signed both the print as well as the matt board. Very rare and hugely collectable. I’ve got a couple of each; if anybody is interested in adding one to his/her collection, shoot me an email and we’ll start a conversation.

Scanned original print showing signatures on matt board, and label on back

Scanned original print showing signatures (click to enlarge)

Scanned original print showing signatures on matt board, and label on back

The Allman Brothers Are Born

Allman_Brothers

L to R: Berry Oakley, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe Johanson, Gregg Allman, Phil Walden

Baron recently received a phone call from a picture editor asking about his 1969 panoramic photograph of the Allman Brothers in a Macon, Georgia, recording studio. In March of that year while on assignment for Rolling Stone, Baron had indeed photographed the band during its first week of rehearsals together as the six piece group that manager/promoter Phil Walden helped launch. But Baron didn’t even have a panoramic camera at the time. It turned out that Phil Walden had created his own ‘panoramic’ by framing together the two prints Baron had given him. In March 2012, more than forty years later, this rendition of the Allman Brothers panoramic photo was created, a very limited edition, historically significant, print which you now have the opportunity to own.

Editions are available as follows:
24×16 inches, edition of 75
44×24 inches, edition of 15

Click here to inquire.

Big Mama Thornton

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, San Francisco, 1968

“Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton sang at the Newport Folk Festival, one of our stops on our 1969 Festival tour. Janis (Joplin) always gave credit to Big Mama, explained how she had been hugely inspired by her, that she listened a lot to Big Mama’s music. Big Mama’s song ‘Ball And Chain’ became a Janis classic.”

Incidentally, Big Mama was also the first to make a hit of “Hound Dog.”

Joan Baez

Joan Baez, Big Sur Folk Festival, Esalen, Big Sur, CA, 1969

Joan Baez joined the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City before their encampment was shut down by Mayor Bloomberg a couple of weeks ago. Baez and many of her peers gave us some of our most enduring protest songs, making their presence felt in global counter-culture since the 60s. Decades later there is no excuse for the disparity between the haves and the have-nots in this land of ours, and for this imbalance we cannot give thanks. This thanksgiving let us, however, show our appreciation for all compassionate and generous contributions to our collective conscience and to today’s protesters for keeping up the good work of Baez and company.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Fotobaron team.

ABC Radio Interview

Vicki and Marlene, “We’re With The Band,” San Francisco, 1969

Baron had a really great interview with ABC Australia breakfast host Fran Kelly yesterday.

For my own reasons, I chose to illustrate this post with two gorgeous naked women. Here’s their story from the book.

“Periodically bands would come to my home studio to be photographed. One particular band arrived with some beautiful young women (what else) in tow. I shot the photos of the musicians and when we were done the guys told the girls to get naked so I could photograph them all together. Two of the women also posed together for me alone; one of those shots turned out great, more than great, so the next day I took a print into Rolling Stone.

Everybody in the office also loved the shot and it was published in the next issue on the same page as the publishing information. That particular spot was always reserved for a unique horizontal photo, sometimes even without a caption – just an excellent picture speaking for itself. I loved that Jann had the audacity to run even nude photos for no reason other than they were first-rate pictures.”

Tucson celebrates the art of rock n’ roll

Lighting scaffold, Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Bethel, NY, 1969
Can you spot the guy who later had pants airbrushed on him by Encyclopedia Britannica?

In conjunction with the exhibit “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present” the Tucson Museum of Art hosts a talk by Baron Wolman from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, September 10. Free with admission.

“Rockin’ The Desert,” exhibit of photos by Baron Wolman and Lynn Goldsmith. Reception and “Rolling Stone Years” book signing, Saturday, September 10, from 7-10 at the Etherton Gallery.

Personal Stories

Big Sur Folk Festival, Esalen, Big Sur, CA, 1969

We’d like to thank Michael Maurer Smith for the frank and enlightening note he sent to Baron upon receiving his copy of the book.

“I recently got your book, “The Rolling Stone Years.” It is an absolute pleasure and treasure. And I want to say thank you.

From 1968 until the late summer of 1972 I was serving in the Marine Corps. Although I did not go to Vietnam I did serve tours in Guantanamo and Okinawa. While in Okinawa I remember one of the guys rushing into the barracks, very excited. He yelled out to everyone that they were now carrying “Rolling Stone” in the PX. That was the first time (1971) I had heard of the magazine. I’d come from a small town in Michigan and had joined the Marines at 18. I knew little about anything and next to nothing about rock and roll.

Okinawa at that time was under the control of the United States, and had been since the end of World War Two. It reverted to Japanese control in 1972. Because of this the American Military command had a firm control over what we service personnel could do, what we could read and where we could go.

At one point Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda came to Okinawa. To prevent us from seeing them the Marine Command confined all Marines to base. I never forgot this act of censorship. Believe me it was not the only one.) So you can understand how “Rolling Stone,” becoming available in the PX on Okinawa, was so significant at that time.

Your book with its superb photographs and commentary has given me at least a little bit of the San Francisco/Rock and Roll experience I wish could have known first-hand. I’m sure it will do the same for many other veterans. For that – for giving us a bit of our youth that was denied us at the time – we are all indebted to you. Thanks again.”

Cosmic World Book Tour and More, Tucson

Joan Baez, Big Sur Folk Festival, Esalen, Big Sur, CA, 1969

Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present – a museum-sized traveling exhibition of rock photography – rolls into the Tucson Museum of Art on Oct. 22. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, it celebrates not only the music’s stars – Kurt Cobain, Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry – but the photography stars who made the music’s makers indelible.

Megastar rock photog Annie Leibovitz is in the show, of course, along with a host of others, including Baron Wolman, the first-ever photographer at Rolling Stone magazine; Lynn Goldsmith; and the late Linda Eastman McCartney. New York curator Gail Buckland approaches rock shots “as an art form,” says TMA chief curator Julie Sasse. “She captures an era, giving photographers credit for helping shape our vision of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Once the show was booked, the TMA folks enlisted as many partner venues as possible. The Etherton Gallery quickly took the bait. Its show, Rockin’ the Desert: Photographs by Baron Wolman and Lynn Goldsmith, features two photographers who are also in the TMA show. Wolman has “shot” everybody from Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin to Joan Baez and Mick Jagger, not to mention a groupie here and there. Rockin’ the Desert will actually open first, on Sept. 6, and continue through Nov. 12.

As the song says – sort of – there’s a whole lotta cross-fertilization goin’ on. Rolling Stone alum Wolman will give a talk about his work over at TMA, at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, the same day that Etherton stages an evening opening for Rockin’ the Desert, from 7 to 10 p.m. Then, right after the party, revelers can ramble round the corner to the Rialto Theatre, for real-life rockin’ by Jefferson Starship, a band piloted by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane fame. Doors open at 10:30 p.m.; show starts at 11 p.m.

T-Squat Interview

View from the stage, Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Bethel, NY, 1969

Beck Rocchi & James Watkins over at T-Squat ran an extensive interview in their culture blog. Here’s a short excerpt:

T: Woodstock 1969 is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most pivotal moments in popular music history. Who or what blew you away over these three days?

B: What made Woodstock so unique for me wasn’t the music, although the line-up was extraordinary.  Rather it was the gathering of so many people in one place, at one moment in time, for the sole purpose of enjoying themselves and one another.  If you look at the pictures I took you will see I concentrated on the people not the performers.  There is one photo I shot standing pretty much in the middle of that enormous Woodstock stage, using the widest-angle lens I had at the time (24mm, I think) where I tried to capture the enormity of the crowd.  Even that lens didn’t include everybody.  I mean, think about it.  Here was a disaster waiting to happen – rain, mud, humidity, not enough food, insufficient sanitary facilities – and nothing untoward happened, no violence, no anger.  That single concert fulfilled the “hippie promise” of peace, love and music…

Lighting scaffold, Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Bethel, NY, 1969