PHOTOGRAPHY OF ROBERT ALTMAN | PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE

After attending Hunter College in NYC, Robert Altman apprenticed under none other than Ansel Adams. He then went on to serve as Chief Staff Photographer for Rolling Stone magazine from 1969-1971. Many of Altman’s images became iconic for the brilliant and passionate way he captured those that shaped music history in particular, and the ’60s & ’70s culture at large.

The Sixties: Photographs by Robert Altman is a must own. Oh, and he’s not to be confused with Robert Altman the film director — both epic in their own right.

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Holy Man Jam festival, Boulder, Colorado, August 1970 — Image by © Robert Altman. “I love this photograph. You’ve got the perfection of a very pretty young lady, hands raised, holding a maraca. Right between her is this jubilant face… Another second or two, and her expression may have changed, an arm might have moved in front of an eye, and it’s a whole different photograph. Sometimes photography is alchemy, pure magic. Sometimes it just all comes together.” –Robert Altman

January, 1970 — Author Ken Kesey at home in Springfield, OR — Image by © Robert Altman. Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and a master mind of The Sixties was an original and much loved figure, and the focus of Tom Wolfe’s best seller “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” Sadly Rolling Stone ran this photo as a double page spread when Ken passed the acid test and also passed onto the next great adventure. via

The Gold Rush Festival, October 4, 1969 — Tina Turner, “The Fan” — Image by © Robert Altman

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MACHINE HEAD | THE EPIC 1972 ALBUM THAT PUT THE “DEEP” IN DEEP PURPLE

Deep Purple credits none other than Led Zeppelin for finally giving the band their focus.  The boys in Deep Purple had experimented a lot with their sound in their early years– adding elements of psychedelia, and funk to their sound.  With Led Zeppelin (and Black Sabbath) blazing the way by laying down the most epic, indestructible and powerful ‘Riff Rock’ tracks of all time– they finally knew exactly how they wanted to sound.  The Mk II lineup was unstoppable– Ian Gillan (easily one of Rock and Roll’s best vocalists), guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (’nuff said), Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice on drums, and arguably one of the most important elements to the “Deep Purple” sound that truly separated them from the pack– the eloquent and driving keyboard playing of Jon Lord.

Coming off a huge 15 month tour to support their successful In Rock, the band holed up in ‘Le Pavillon’, an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland. Using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit, Deep Purple recorded one of the hardest rocking albums of all time– Machine Head. Apparently the locals were not aware or appreciative that Rock history was in the making. In the middle of recording ‘Smoke on the Water’ the Swiss police showed up– pounding on the door to shut them down for keeping up the entire town of Montreux.  Deep Purple’s roadees were holding the doors shut so that the band could get the track down on tape before getting thrown out.  Deep Purple had to find new digs to record in, and finally came across a grand old Victorian hotel on the edge of town that was shutdown for the season– it was now the depths of winter.  They found a tiny, quirky little space off of the main lobby where they could setup, and that was where Machine Head would be recorded– in just 3 weeks.  Quick, dirty, and epic.

1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Singer Ian Gillan of  Deep Purple playing guitar. Their epic album “Machine Head” was recorded in an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit. — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

“…Highway Star was written on a bus going down to Portsmouth. We were playing Portsmouth Guild Hall– and we took some of the filthy press down with us, to, um… and Ritchie was dickin’ around on his banjo, and one of them said, ‘Well, how do you write a song then?’ And Ritchie went like this– he just went ‘ding,ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding… and looked out the window playing ‘ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding’–  just playing one note. So, I started singing– and uh, we played the song in the show that night.”

–Ian Gillan of Deep Purple

’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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THE DOORS | WHEN THE MUSIC’S OVER MORRISON HOTEL & HARD ROCK CAFE

After shooting the ‘Morrison Hotel’ images for said album, Jim Morrison’s need for drink drove the band down to L.A.’s skid row, where The Doors happened upon a little dive bar called ‘Hard Rock Cafe’. The boys were all piled in John Densmore’s VW van with photographer Henry Diltz, when they collectively spotted the joint with the now famous name on East 5th St. and all said, “Oh, we gotta go in there!”

Side one of  ‘Morrison Hotel’ would end up being named ‘Hard Rock Cafe’, and famously pictured on the back of the album.  The shots taken that day back in December of ’69 are some of my favorite Doors’ pics. Years later photographer Henry Diltz recalled–

“I guess though sometime the next year after the album came out with that picture on the back, they [The Doors] got a call from England and this guy says, ‘Hello. Would you mind if we use that name on the back of your album? We’re starting a cafe over here in London and we would like to use that name.’ And they said, ‘No, go ahead,’ and that was the beginning of it. Now every time I go into a Hard Rock Cafe, whatever city I’m in, I always feel like I should get a free hamburger.”

December 1969, Los Angeles, CA — The Doors barside at the original Hard Rock Cafe on East 5th Street in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Sadly, it’s no longer there. — Image by © Henry Diltz/Corbis


December 1969, Los Angeles, CA — The Doors outside the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Los Angeles — Image by © Henry Diltz/Corbis

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“THE BEST RELATIONSHIP MARTY EVER HAD WAS WITH ROBBIE ROBERTSON.”

Robbie Robertson and Martin Scorsese

From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

Martin Scorsese was introduced to The Band’s Robbie Robertson by the producer of Mean Streets, Jonathon Taplin, who coincidently helped manage the legendary rock group.  Scorsese’s first impression of the guitarist was, “He was cool, far too cool.” This chance meeting and initial impression would turn into a creative collaboration and friendship that stretches on for the better part of four decades, and includes musical collaborations on at least eight Scorsese films.

By 1976 The Band were on their last legs, after more than sixteen years of non-stop touring the stresses of the road had taken their toll.  The members agreed to one last show, to be played on Thanksgiving 1976 at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.  The show would feature several notable guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, and Eric Clapton amongst others.  I have always found this ironic, given that Rock and Roll is big business today with the attendant merchandising and multi-media cash cow to feed, that a group like The Band that still had tremendous commercial appeal would just hang it up.  Times were less cynical I suppose.


Martin Scorsese, left, and Robbie Robertson traveled to the French Riviera in Cannes, France, in May 1978 to present “The Last Waltz” at the 31st Cannes International Film Festival.  –AP image

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THE BROODING BAVARIAN BOMBSHELL | ’60s & ’70s SEX ICON– USCHI OBERMAIER

Keith Richards with German model/actress Uschi Obermaier during the Rolling Stones’ 1975 Tour of the Americas. –Photo by Christopher Simon Sykes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The sexy German model was with the Rolling Stones on their ’75 tour, and bedded both Mick & Keef. Uschi later rated the boys, saying, “Mick is the most charming man in the world, but Keith is the better lover. He just knows the anatomy of women…”

When Anita got word of Keef’s tryst with Uschi, she furiously charged at him, and grabbed him by the hair and screamed, “You f*cking messer, You’ve been messing with this bird!”

Uschi makes it clear that she and Keith loved each other– and that while Anita often lamented over Keef’s lacking libido, Uschi, by her account, had no problem keeping her man in bed for days at a time. “With me, there was never a problem.”

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December 18th, 1968– The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with Anita Pallenberg in a departure lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport. –Photo by Central Press/Getty Images

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HOW TO CLASH ART, MUSIC & STYLE | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME ROCKER PAUL SIMONON

“Clothes were where my aesthetic instincts came out then. They helped make the group accessible.”

–Paul Simonon

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Back in 1976, it was the wily manager, Bernie Rhodes, who instructed Mick Jones to recruit Paul Simonon into the group that would soon become The Clash, simply because he looked the part. “I was a bit Bowie, a bit suedehead back then,” says Simonon. “And, more importantly, I was at art college. Mick liked that. He was always big on pop history. He knew all about Stuart Sutcliffe, who was Lennon’s best mate in the early days of the Beatles, and a proper artist. I remember Mick introducing me to all his mates– ‘This is my new bass guitarist, Paul. He can’t play but he’s a painter.'”

The rest, as they say, is rock’n’roll history. Together, at Rhodes’s urging, they recruited Joe Strummer to the cause, and the Clash became the coolest punk group on the planet.  When the London punk scene began, Simonon was a fledgling painter, fresh from Byam Shaw art college which, back then, was just up the road in Notting Hill. In the spirit of the times, he  drip-painted his bass guitar in the style of Jackson Pollock and learned how to play by writing out the chords and sticking them on to the instrument’s neck. His reggae-influenced bass playing soon became integral to the group’s sound.

Simonon’s traditionalist approach to painting is surprising given that, within the often volatile creative dynamic of the Clash, he was the conceptualist, the one who paid most attention to the visuals, the image. He painted the backdrop to the Clash’s rehearsal studio, and designed some of the later stage sets, including the dive-bombing Stukas that echoed their often explosive performances. You could tell the Clash were art-school punks from the start, what with those shirts stencilled with slogans and that paint-splashed bass guitar.

“That was the art student in me trying to find a look that would make us stand apart from the Sex Pistols,” he says, laughing. “The Buzzcocks were very Mondrian, and we were Pollock. As a painter, though, I’m essentially old-fashioned. Conceptualism just doesn’t do it for me. I love Walter Sickert, Samuel Palmer, Rubens and Constable. That’s just the way I am. I love putting paint on canvas, getting lost in the process of painting.”

–Sean O’Hagan

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones & Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

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1972 DAVID BOWIE IN TECHNICOLOR | CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

Lou-

When David Bowie burst onto the scene in the early ’70s in full Technicolor Ziggy Stardust Glitter Rocker Regalia– he forever changed the Rock ‘n’ Roll landscape, and revolutionized a new genre of pop star and multi media artist like no one before.  His influence was felt and reflected in music, culture, dress and attitude.  The doors of self-expression and exploration were thrown wide open– with musical and artistic avenues never before explored now becoming ripe, new territory for a young and hungry generation.

BBC considers David Bowie’s 1972 performance of Starman on Top of the Pops nothing short of…

An iconic moment. Broadcast on July 6th, 1972 but recorded the day before, this performance caused a bit of a stir up and down the country. It was the first time many had seen Bowie, and the sight of him camping it up in a multicoloured jumpsuit (with his arm curled limply around Mick Ronson’s shoulder) infuriated some and delighted others. Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen): “All my other mates at school would say, ‘Did you see that bloke on Top Of The Pops?’ He’s a right faggot, him!’ And I remember thinking, ‘You pillocks’…It made me feel cooler.”

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1974, New York — David Bowie performs as Ziggy Stardust on TV in a room at the Delmonico Hotel. — Image by © Henry Diltz/Corbis

1972 — David Bowie, as Ziggy Stardust, in concert in the US. — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

David Bowie & Mick Ronson.  Mick (in white on the Les Paul) was a major collaborator w/Bowie through 1973. — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis

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DOES ELVIS PRESLEY + WANDA JACKSON x HASIL ADKINS = THE CRAMPS? MAYBE.

Not to beat this whole Cramps thang to death…During an interesting conversation (mostly one-sided, and highly enjoyable via the internets with a new found friend), the following rock equation was confirmed.  You take the schmaltz, swagger, sex, and glitter of Elvis + the thundering gal on guitar and belting vocals of Wanda Jackson + the frantic, hollerin’ and hillbilly hunchin’ of Hasil Adkins + stir it up, add some hardcore NY snips and whips, pour it generously into a raging ’70s garage band, bake at 1,000 degrees = you might just have yourself The Cramps.

Wanda Jackson briefly dated Elvis, who encouraged her to go Rockabilly with her sound and show.

Check that pickguard made of old 45’s on Hasil Adkin’s guitar on the right…. Holy hot tracks, Batman!


The Cramps famously covered Hasil Adkins’ “She Said” which led to a new found interest in his music.

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POISON IVY OF THE CRAMPS | PSYCHOBILLY GUITAR GODDESS

Now, you don’t seriously expect that I can post on Elvis and not followup with The Cramps, right? There’s something about a gal playing a sexy Gretsch guitar that makes a many a little weak in the knees. ‘Least that’s what I’ve been told…

Poison Ivy “Rorschach” and Lux Interior, R.I.P. (her husband and co-founding member of The Cramps) gave us a genre of music gleefully known and loved known as– Psychobilly.  Starting out as the ultimate garage band back in ’76, with their raw performance intensity and simple, throbbing tunes– they influenced an entire generation of rock/punk/goth bands who followed behind in their giant footsteps, and are still thrilling kids who “discover” their musical legacy to this day.  Lux is the man, and Poison Ivy is no doubt the woman. Just get a load of these epic pics, and try not to bite through your lip…

1992– Poison Ivy of the Cramps, Tamaris Rock Festival  via

1995– Pois0n Ivy of The Cramps at the University of Utah Olpin Union Ballroom. via

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BEFORE ELVIS THERE WAS NOTHING.

Saying that Elvis is an icon doesn’t quite cut it. There’s really never been anyone else who’s come along since that could fill his mammoth shoes in terms of talent, looks, style, presence and star power– and likely never will be. Don’t even think the words “Michael Jackson,” no way. Not. Even. Close. Jackson took a lot of style cues from Elvis, from his trim black pants, white socks, and black loafers– and obviously his slick dance moves were a tribute to the King’s infamous gyrations first unleashed back in ’56 on “The Milton Berle Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Those infamous performances (for which he was paid handsomely for, and drew ratings that were off the charts) instantly made him public enemy #1 with parents (who feared the effect that his racy “colored” music would have on their kids) as well as self-appointed decency censors and morality police across the nation.

Looking back on these epic Images of “The King of Rock & Roll”– it’s easy to see what all the fuss was about. Electrifying music, intense energy & sexuality– complete with bad boy sneer & stellar style. Elvis created a bold & sexy Rock Star image unrivaled by anyone– back when the fashion landscape was sterile and buttoned-up. And he did it all through sheer originality, determination and attitude.  The signature slick-backed hair was died so black– it actually had a blue tint.  The clothes went from fierce, flashy Rockabilly Badass to uber-Vegas Lizard King– yet through it all he was and still is, the one and only “King of Rock & Roll”– warts and all.

photo by the multi-talented Kate McQueen

“I happened to come along in the music business when there was no trend. “


The hair, the eyes, the sneer, the pelvis… Elvis

Memphis, 1956– Elvis Presley outside Jim’s Barber Shop on South Main Street. Looks like he’s gettin’ a ticket and funnin’ with the cop as only Elvis could.

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