I spent most of the 70’s and 80’s working as a photo journalist for newspapers. That kept me busy during the day and many nights. But any night I could I shot live music. I shot in Arenas and Auditoriums. I was lucky enough to shoot from on stage for UPI at the first Farm Aid Concert. I shot in many nice clubs and a few that kept an ambulance waiting in the parking lot, engine idling.
That was all in the pre-digital film days of course. I shot mostly on Kodak Tri-X, a 400 speed black and white film. Many shooters then “pushed’ the film to higher speeds and compensated by overdeveloping. It was a great technique for many situations but I never liked the quality for concerts. I preferred losing some shots for the quality of the ones that worked. When i shot color it was usually Ektachrome 400 slide film.
For years all that film languished in envelops in old photo paper boxes in my attic. Some years ago I came across the boxes and decided to ‘preserve’ the film by buying a Nikon CoolScan 5000 Digital scanner and scanning a few, whatever looked worthy. I had no clue how much work it would be, how time consuming and how fun. It was a trip back in time that served up long forgotten memories. And I was relatively happy with how decent some of it was.
Many of the shows I worked with a writer who was doing a review. I was lucky enough to work with a couple incredibly talented guys who became my closest friends. Denny Angelle, who now lives in Houston, accompanied me to some awesome shows like Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever tour in 1980 and to a very strange interview and show with Leon Redbone. Denny introduced me to great Cajun and Zydeco musicians like Clifton Chenier in amazing clubs like Sparkle Paradise. He and I managed to hang out in the original Antones in Austin with Jimmy Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Denny still is my musical north pole.
In 1983 I moved and my great friend Kelley Bass became my concert partner. Our first was an amazing show in Pine Bluff Arkansas with Kiss and Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics. Together we did big arena shows all through the Hair-Metal Spandex days of Motley Crue, Poison, Quiet Riot, Cinderella, Whitesnake et al. We did a number of wonderful club shows including Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells and Roy Buchanan. Kelley is now CEO of the Arkansas Museum of Discovery, a fabulous facility in LIttle Rock Arkansas.
Eventually i moved again and the new job as a travel photographer just didn’t leave room to shoot concerts any more. Since then the world has revolved several times, cameras went digital and music changed and changed again and again. Those bands I shot came and went and many came back. Stars have emerged and some have passed on. But I loved them all when shooting. So many of the shows were great spectacle, the music so rich.
Last week I finally put together and launched a new website to show and share my concert images. There’s everything from AC DC to ZZ Top with Minnie Pearl in the middle. It has the expected rock bands but also Jazz, Country, Blues…lot’s of bands and musicians. There’s still more to scan one day soon. Some forgotten one hit bands like Mr. Mister and others that are icons like George Jones, The Judds, Ray Charles and Doc Watson.
If you’re looking for a great gift for a music fan, try a big print from my site. I’d appreciate it. For media I offer rights managed use as well.