How could anyone possibly capture the intensity, passion and emotion of rock and roll in a photo? It seems impossible, but talented photographers catch moments that speak volumes. For a story about an exhibition at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, I interviewed some of these legends. Some of these photographers have been working with rock stars since the 1960s, getting up close and personal with Hendrix, Janis, Zappa, Stevie, Jerry, Carlos, and other greats who can be identified with a single name.
There are images of Garcia and Santana in a candid moment at Bill Graham’s home in Mill Valley, a defiant Patti Smith at The Fillmore and Southern California’s Jackson Browne during his “Running on Empty” stadium tour.
The late Jim Marshall’s photo captured the Beatles’ final show, at Candlestick Park in 1966, and his black-and-white shot nails Johnny Cash at Folsom State Prison. Marshall also has an unlikely image in the exhibition of Jimi Hendrix at a drum set in a Sgt. Pepper-like jacket, a wistful look on his face.
Baron Wolman, who in 1967 became the founding photo editor at Rolling Stone, said he appreciates the show’s focus on California, which he called “a wonderful breeding ground for a new version of rock and roll.” Wolman photographed legends such as Joplin with her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. “There was change in the air,” he said, “and the music was part of the change.”