Sunday, October 2, 2011

Younger Girl

Last week I wrote about John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, and those first rock photos I got to take. While I followed him down the street a couple of times before that as a teenager, I never had the nerve to talk to him. Too shy I guess (big crush). And yet that didn't stop me from going up to Joe Butler of the Spoonful and spending an hour or so with him (don't get your hopes up, this is not that kind of story. I was very young and it was totally, completely innocent.)

I was working in a photo studio on lower 5th Avenue for a month one high school summer and I always spent my lunch hour walking around the Village. I was in heaven, it was exactly the place I wanted to be. And then one day, on 8th Street I think, there was Joe. I recognized him immediately, of course, it was still the heyday of the Spoonful. And just like that I went over to him and we ended up talking and walking around the Village. (Too bad it was before I kept a camera in my bag.) It was so easy. So comfortable. We just wandered out there in the street until I had to go back to work. I didn't even ask for an autograph. Just a fan spending some time with one of her favorite musicians.

I look back at that perfect rock moment now, and I know that nothing like that could happen now. I was too young and it would be too dangerous (can't be seen, even in public, with an underaged girl!) or too sleazy (gotta live up to that rock and roll lifestyle!) or too public (paparazzi are everywhere!) And that's really too bad.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do You Believe in Magic? (John Sebastian)

Last night I was watching Legends of Folk: The Village Scene, a PBS special. The concerts they showed were a little before my time, but I was always into the music. Dylan. Peter Paul and Mary. Joan Baez. And then, all of a sudden, there was John Sebastian and The Lovin' Spoonful. I had been a big Beatles fan when I was young, but it really was the Spoonful who owned my soul. I'm not sure when it was that I got to see them perform at the New York Coliseum (which is now the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle) but it was way before I picked up a camera at a concert. The highlight that day wasn't the show (which I LOVED) but when we left the Coliseum we saw the band get into a white van. And we chased that van down the street. It was such a rock and roll moment. 

So it was really no surprise when I started looking for the first rock photos I ever took and found they were of John Sebastian.

John Sebastian at the Schaefer Music Festival
Central Park, 1973
At the time, I only had a little point and shoot film camera, an Olympus Trip 35 (still living in my closet). The 40mm fixed lens didn't get me anywhere near close enough, even though I was standing at the foot of the stage. But I have to admit, I loved it. Not long after, I bought an SLR and started taking photography classes. And a year later, the second show I shot in black and white (contact sheet file number 10005)  featured John Sebastian. The photos were better, but I don't seem to have printed any of them. 

So a few more classes, and another year's summer concert series, and I get to photograph Sebastian again. This time, I'm able to get backstage (though it was before Aztec Two Step and I'm pretty sure I didn't have a photo pass-- but hey, it was John Sebastian-- and if I could chase him down 59th Street in a van with the Spoonful, I could sneak backstage) and I got this shot of him rehearsing in his trailer.

And at this show, I got a little closer (ok, longer lens.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My City of Ruins

Hard to believe it has been 10 years. I remember watching the benefit, and watching Bruce Springsteen sing this song. 

Rise up.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Generation

I've been spending some time running around southwest England lately. Not doing any kind of rock and roll tour, mind you, but interested in rock history if I can find any around me. Which I can't, it seems. English rock history resides mostly in London, Liverpool and Manchester, places I haven't been to on this trip. I asked some locals, but no one seemed to know of anything that occurred in this area. I checked the internet, and found that the band XTC, Gilbert O'Sullivan, and Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues all came from Swindon. So I figured that last week's photo of a Beatles photo was as close to rock and roll that I would get (and yes, it's a stretch, I know.)

And then I found out that just a few miles away from where I'm staying is Ashdown House. A lovely estate and part of the British National Trust. Only a small portion of the house is open for visitors, and only for short periods of time. That's because Ashdown House has a tenant. It was closed when I got there, but I wandered a bit around the grounds. Didn't see Pete Townshend either. Yeah, he's the tenant. Purchased the lease from the National Trust in 2010. My guess is that he's probably not living there yet, as the house is undergoing major renovations. Still, nice house, don't you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

She Loves You (The Beatles)

I never got to photograph the Beatles. I was way too young, though I did get to see them live once, and screamed my little girl lungs out, too. 

Saw this photo in an antiques store in Lechlade selling for £18. Didn't want to own it, just wanted to photograph the Beatles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rapture (Deborah Harry)

Nice article about Deborah Harry in this week's New York Magazine. Blondie's got a new album coming out, Panic of Girls. They're still touring too, but as she says, “the last thing I ever want to be is an oldies act, running through those same songs beat for beat...”  Good for her. Good for them. 

Yes, that's my photo on the second page. You've seen it here before. Live from the stage at the Palladium in 1977. The photo's bigger on than it is in the magazine, but that's ok. And yes, they spelled my name right.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

This week I saw that Aztec Two-Step is still around and they are performing at George Eastman House (Rochester NY, too far away). Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman have a special place in my heart because sometimes I think if it wasn't for them, I might not have really gotten into shooting rock and roll.

Aztec Two-Step, Schaefer Music Festival, Central Park, NYC, 1976

At that time, I was taking photography classes, and I wanted to photograph for myself and not just for class assignments. I wasn't really interested in doing street photography, so I'd take my camera to concerts. I'd use the photos to work on my printing in my tiny darkroom, in my tiny bathroom, in my tiny studio apartment. In June of 1976, Aztec Two-Step was opening for Jesse Colin Young in Central Park. A friend of my friend Sara knew the band and said we should definitely go see them, but it was the first summer Saturday of the Schaefer Music Festival and the concert was sold out. Since Sara's friend was living in St. Louis and couldn't really do anything at that point to get us in, he said we should hang out by the press gate and mention his name to Rex and Neal.

Neal Shulman of Aztec Twp-Step

So we're hanging out and of course, we can't get near Neal and Rex. But then Stu comes out with the list (which did not have our names of course). He's the publicist for Aztec Two-Steps' label RCA Records. We start talking, he sees my camera, asks if I have a portfolio (which I was starting to put together) and tells me to call and make an appointment to show it to him. And then he lets us in. Yay! It was a good show!

Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step

I finish the portfolio, make the appointment not long after, and Stu gives me my first official photo pass (Jefferson Starship- but that's a whole other story) Not long after that, he gives me my first paid assignment too, the first of many. (The Deadly Nightshade at The Bottom Line) And that's how I got here.

Oddly enough, while I photographed Aztec Two-Step six more times, I never actually got hired to shoot them.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Okay, so who is watching Alphas, Mondays at 10 on SYFY? And why do I care? 

A scene from Alphas, episode 3

If you look closely, there on the wall of David Strathairn's office in the show (starting in episode 2), you'll see photographs. These photographs. (and sometimes more than once in an episode)

Lou Reed, Bottom Line, 1978

Set decoration. Interesting. I like this. A first for me, not a magazine or the internet or a fine art print on a gallery wall. You have to be open to all the places where the photos can end up. The difference here is usage rights. Editorial is fine even when there is no release, and fine art is allowed too (just don't put the image on a t-shirt if you don't have a release) TV is something else though, and the legal department had to get involved, but ultimately, it all worked out.

Oh, and if you look really quickly, you can see my name in the credits. But it's really fast, so I'll make it easier for you.

Don't forget to watch.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Pat Benatar 2)

Rory Gallagher and Pat Benatar

I liked working with Pat Benatar. From our first shoot together, backstage with the late, great Rory Gallagher in September 1979, through those backstage photos with John "Cougar" Mellencamp, to a couple of her own concerts in NY, I always found her to be easy to work with. I actually got to photograph her five times in less than a year, and went from seeing her good-looking husband Dennis backstage, to his being gone the next time, to finding that she was with her good-looking guitarist, Neil "Spyder" Giraldo (who she later married and is still with today)

Pat Benatar at The Bottom Line, November 1979

This shot was taken backstage at the Bottom Line after Pat's first performance there. Not only the band is in the photo, but the Chrysalis executives are joined by the owners of The Bottom Line, Pat's manager Rick Newman and more. Everyone just knew how big she was going to be, and they all wanted to have their picture taken with her.

Backstage at The Bottom Line, November 1979

But by the last show I did with her, I found that fame had taken over. I'm not blaming her at all, but I couldn't get near her. She was surrounded by her "people" and there was nothing I could do about it. They were controlling access and keeping her attention. I'm not saying that she and I had ever been friends (I tend to be low-key when I'm shooting- it's not about me, it's about getting the shot) and I doubt she'd even remember me at this point so many years later, but she knew me then, and I know we would have talked if she knew I was there, but she was surrounded. It was an interesting rock and roll moment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In The Heat Of The Night (Pat Benatar)

Not many shows tempt me these days. Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo onstage after all these years, well that would tempt me. (Though I'm probably not tempted enough) They're playing Monday and Tuesday at B.B. King Blues Club. Yep, tempting. Shot them a lot back in the day. Especially Pat.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at The Bottom Line, November, 1979
I first photographed Pat Benatar a couple of times just before her album In The Heat Of The Night came out, before her first tour. One time, Chrysalis Records sent us to The Bottom Line to see John Cougar (yes, that was his name then) since Pat had released a cover of his song "I Need a Lover" (a really good song, both versions-- and it still holds up) 

Pat Benatar and John Cougar (Mellencamp) at the Bottom Line, September 1979

This was my favorite shot from that night and it ran in CREEM. Now that was a magazine...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On The Road Again

I do try to keep up with this blog, one post a week. I know people who are posting every single day, and I admire them. But much as I love this rock and roll work, the year is 2011, not 1979 (which was a very good year I must say) and I have other work, other photo projects that keep me busy. I have an exhibition of Lucky Cats (another icon that poses with its fist in the air) at No Roses Gallery in Sherman Oaks, CA right now, and that's kept me pretty busy. 

So no stories this week, just some photos I like a lot which don't actually come with stories anyway. I needed an excuse to post them here without writing about them. Not every show came with interesting anecdotes. But they did come with visually and musically interesting performers. Most of them. And the performers I photographed were an eclectic group. Worked for me.

Ray Davies at the Palladium in 1978

Bonnie Raitt at the Dr. Pepper Music Festival in 1977

Richard Hell at the Palladium in 1978 

Bob Seger at Nassau Coliseum in 1978

Sunday, June 19, 2011

RIP Clarence Clemons

Such a devastating loss. My heart goes out to his family, friends and fans, old and new. He will be so missed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Big Man

Just heard that Clarence Clemons suffered a stroke. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.  Met him twice, once in Puerto Rico, once many years later after a solo performance at Sweetwater in Mill Valley, California.  Open, charming, accessible. Amazing performer, really really nice guy. Doesn't deserve this. 

Clarence Clemons with the E-Street Band, Giants Stadium 1985
Ahhh, what a year already, and it's only June. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I've been looking through the archives lately for more than just the photos. I've collected some odd things over the years, and I still have many of them. Though I do miss my Foghat Fog hat.

These garters were used as photo passes during the Some Girls Rolling Stones tour. Yep, you had to wear one in order to shoot the show. You should've seen a blue garter like this one on the bicep of a big, burly Associated Press guy at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Which reminds me--PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY. You'll never know what you'll wish you had all those years later. But hey, I still have the garters! 

Rolling Stones photo passes
Top: Palladium, Bottom: JFK Stadium

The stuff the record companies came up with as marketing gimmicks... this is a Pat Benatar pack of gum (unopened, so I don't really know what's inside. Besides the gum of course. 

Pat Benatar gum: Front

Pat Benatar gum: Back

More to come...

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I photographed a lot of rock and roll stars, but that wasn't all. All kinds of celebrities would show up backstage at concerts, or go to the parties thrown by the record companies. One of them was Jeff Conaway. He passed away this week after a long struggle with substance abuse. 

I don't know whether or not he was abusing drugs the night I shot this. It was the Seventies after all, but he seemed fine to me that night. And happy. Things were certainly going well in his career. This photo was taken at Xenon, at a party for Cerrone, the disco star. The woman is Rona Newton-John, sister of Olivia. They weren't married yet. Unlike many celebrities today, Jeff loved having his picture taken (at least back then)-- I have more from that party that haven't been scanned yet-- and he was a pleasure to shoot. It's so sad. 

Too many deaths lately.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Look Sharp! (Joe Jackson)

I liked photographing Joe Jackson. He always made it interesting, like when he was performing with FUBAR the robot. Loved the songs, too. Is She Really Going Out With Him? Still makes me smile, every time I hear those chords at the beginning. Every single time.

Joe Jackson and FUBAR at The Palladium, 1979

I was warned about Joe Jackson though. He doesn't like photographers, they told me, gives them a hard time. You don't want to go backstage and bother him. Yeah, well. I went backstage anyway. He was great. Posed for me and everything. Don't believe everything they tell you. 

Backstage at the Bottom Line, 1979
Backstage at the Bottom Line, 1979
This shot ran in CREEM. Check out the receipt I got from the magazine. Low tech even for its time. I can't believe I still have stuff like this, but I do. More to scan.

Jackson's new live album is coming out next month. Should be interesting, he toured last year with his original bassist and drummer. Here's a link to his recent interview with Billboard Magazine. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reelin' - Phoebe Snow

I'm sorry I never got to see Phoebe Snow perform live. I know I did her signing photos for Atlantic Records in September 1980, but even then I didn't get to see her onstage. Phoebe cared for her disabled daughter at home from her birth in 1975 until she passed away in 2007, but would still manage to perform. It's amazing that she was able to do it.

Garland Jeffreys and Phoebe Snow, 1977
Phoebe would show up around town, and that's where our paths would cross. Then I'd be able to get pictures. She was always happy to smile and pose. You'd never know how difficult her life really was. She showed up backstage after a Garland Jeffreys concert, and the photo was used by Circus Magazine to illustrate a story about Garland, as she sang on "Reelin'" from his second album One-Eyed Jack. One of those backstage shots was also used in Circus for a story called "Phoebe Snow Never Let Go." Interesting how the article talked about Phoebe being cynical, but never mentioned anything about her daughter.

Billy Joel and Phoebe Snow at Studio 54, 1978

She also came to a party at Studio 54 and I shot her with Billy Joel, another musician I've only photographed offstage.

It was hard to hear about her stroke in 2010. It was harder still to hear that we lost her. Rest in peace Phoebe.

And then it turns out we lost Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex this week too. Rest in peace Marianne Elliot-Said. Two strong women performers gone. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Passion Is No Ordinary Word pt.2 (Graham Parker)

OK, I've let this blog slide a bit for the last couple of weeks. I do try to post regularly, and I started this one on time. I could use the excuse that I was getting ready for an exhibition of photographs (the Lucky Cats are now on their way to Los Angeles for a show at No Roses), but the real reason was that this post was hard to write. 

I missed Graham Parker playing with Garland Jeffreys recently, so I really really wanted to go hear him play at City Winery in NYC on April 2. Brought my camera. (I actually emailed the guy in charge and got permission--closest thing to a photo pass in years!) City Winery is a new venue for me, a place with tables and barstools, and servers walking around. So I walked around too. City Winery even had poles where I could stand and shoot, like the sorely missed Bottom Line in NYC. The light could have been better but hey, at least it wasn't red. 
Graham Parker at City Winery, April 2011
So I was glad to see Graham on stage after all this time. Instead of a band, he had Mike Gent with him, playing guitar and singing backup. Gent opened the show, too, but no one at my table was impressed.

I titled these posts about Graham with his song "Passion Is No Ordinary Word." Boy, did I miss the passion at this show. And I missed Graham Parker, the rocker. I know, I know, he's older now, but there was a taste of what was missing when he came back onstage for the encore. Kicked ass then. This was what I came here for. Too little though, and much too late.
Graham Parker at City Winery, April 2011
can't say I know every album he's made, but I do have several, and I still play them a lot. His choice of songs for this show left much to be desired. I still don't get it. There were times when he even said that he was going to sing the worst song on the album. 

Maybe he needed a band. Maybe he needed better backup. Maybe he just needed more passion.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beast of Burden (Keith Richards)

I've always admired Keith Richards. The epitome of sex and drugs and rock and roll is still alive. I tried to read his new book because I've heard the rumors over the years, the changing of the blood to beat addiction, the animosity between him and Mick. I wanted to know his take on Brian Jones and if the stories about his death were true. I was really curious to hear things from his perspective. Really, I did try to read it. But then I couldn't decide– did he write like a guitarist, riffing on an idea, or did he write like someone who was stoned and rambling? In any case, I thought he needed a better editor, and I only got halfway through.

Mick and Keith at the Palladium, 1978

I photographed Keith onstage with the Stones, at a party, and with his own project, the New Barbarians. I scanned this shot from a Stones concert in 1978. The one thing I have to say about photographing the Rolling Stones is that it is almost impossible to take your eyes off Mick Jagger to shoot someone else in the band. He is that mesmerizing onstage. Even when you're sitting on some stranger's lap in the third row. (That's a whole other story and I promise I'll get to it later.) So even though this shot has Keith in it, I really think of it more as a photo of Mick.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Because the Night (Patti Smith)

Getting my head back into my rock and roll days, I've found myself reading some books by musicians I've photographed. Besides being upset that my photos aren't in there (which is pretty much my own fault for sitting on them for all these years) I mostly end up being annoyed that I've wasted my time trying to read these books. For the most part, they are unreadable. (sorry Keef, I tried)

But I just finished reading Just Kids by Patti Smith. It's the story of her early life with Robert Mapplethorpe, and I can't recommend it enough. She is truly a poet and the words are exquisite. And I came away with a greater understanding of two of the most influential artists of our time.

Palladium, 1978
I photographed Patti many times. Onstage and off. Concerts in Central Park and the Palladium, a record signing at Discomat, even in the audience of the Palladium at a Ramones show. Whether it was a job or not, I tried to go see her  whenever I could. She's an amazing performer.

Ramones concert, 1977
We were acquaintances, as I was certainly around enough in those days, but I'm not sure we ever really had a conversation. Didn't seem to be her way. And the closest connection I remember making is when she kicked me (yes she kicked me in the head) at the edge of the stage in Central Park. 

Central Park, 1976
She wanted me to move away and she wanted privacy, and had a number of people hold up a tarp so she could have it for that moment. In the middle of the concert. I've heard the story as to what she was doing, but since I didn't see it myself, it's not mine to share. Ask Richie Aaron. It's on his website.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life Support Japan

Got a little behind this week, as I am participating in Life Support Japan - an online print sale benefit. After the tragedy in Japan, the photo community quickly got together and each photographer involved has donated a photograph in an edition of 10, with each print selling for $50. Over $10,000 has been raised already and many editions have sold out. More photographers are signing up daily. The photo I chose to donate is White Cat 011b, from my series LUCKY CATS: To Bring In The Money. As of this post, only 5 are left. With their fists in the air, Lucky Cats have been some of the current "rock stars" I've been photographing lately. They represent good fortune, and don't we all need a little of that?

White Cat 011b
From Crista Dix of wall space gallery:
Natural disasters happen all the time, like landslides, floods, earthquakes. We live on a planet that isn't static. Friday, March 11th, we witnessed a natural disaster with a very human toll. The earthquake in Japan was of such magnitude that even the most prepared nation in the world to handle a disaster of this type was overwhelmed. It wasn't the earthquake alone, which was devastating enough but watching a 30 foot high wall of mud and debris wipe entire communities away was beyond any ability I personally had to comprehend. 
I had to do something. Aline Smithson, one of our gallery artists wanted to do something too. Ryan Nabulsi and Jennifer Schwartz joined the effort. Soon I was hearing from every part of our creative community that we wanted to reach out to help the people of Japan. Life Support Japan was created to bring assistance to those in Japan who need it. 
We have selected two charities to benefit from the sales of these limited edition prints. 
Direct Relief International, for help with medical supplies.
Direct Relief works closely with the United Nations (U.N.) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), which has activated to assemble the international response. Direct Relief has mobilized and staged materials at our headquarters, which are standing by ready for airlift to Japan.
Habitat for Humanity Japan, http://www.habitat.orgto/ help in the rebuilding of communities in and around Sendai and northern Japan.
Artists from around the globe have donated limited editions, over 300 to date, and we will be consistently updating the images available.
Galleries from around the US are banding together for a series of benefits, for these two and other charities to benefit relief efforts in Japan. We will be posting information as it becomes available. 
Thank you for your support and for being part of a global community.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Passion Is No Ordinary Word (Graham Parker)

Garland Jeffreys and Graham Parker performed together last week and I missed it. Despite email lists and Twitter and Facebook connections, information overload let it to get past me. By the time I realized it was happening, it was sold out. ARGGH!

As I've said here before, I've seen Garland perform in my post-rock days, and even photographed him (and yes, I want to do that again), but never Graham. And aside from the fact that I've always loved his music, he does have a special place in my rock and roll heart-- his picture from a show at the Palladium in 1976 was the first rock photo I had published in a magazine, Crawdaddy in March 1977. (Also had a shot of Graham later that year in Rolling Stone!)

Crawdaddy Magazine, 1977

Graham was one of that group of angry young Brits who were part of the New Wave. The big three were Graham, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. We all know who seems to be most famous now, and while I liked them all, I, of course, preferred Graham and Joe. (which, of course, tells you something about me -- but then, I also preferred the Sony Betamax)

Graham's concerts were brilliant. High energy, powerful. Photographed three of those shows at the Palladium back in the day. Don't ask me for my favorite, I loved them all.

The Palladium, 1977

And the songs. The music, old and new (2007's Don't Tell Columbus …WOW!), is still in heavy rotation on my iPod. "Nobody Hurts You" (playing right now on my computer), "Discovering Japan", "Mercury Poisoning", I could go on and on. And oh yeah, on my list of firsts, Squeezing Out Sparks + Live Sparks was the first album I bought on iTunes.

Monday, February 28, 2011

I Love L.A. (Randy Newman)

Congratulations to Randy Newman on his second Oscar win last night. Though when it comes to Randy Newman songs, it's I Love L.A. and Short People on my iPod. Two of my all-time favorite songs. 

Here's Randy in 1977 when Short People came out. He was performing at Tanglewood, not one of my usual venues, but hey, sometimes you go where the music is. And sometimes the music turns out to be where you are. 
And oh that video for I Love L.A. -- we love it!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Barstool Blues

I've been published a lot over the years, and the number of times (and ways) my name has been misspelled is truly amazing. I use my full name as my photo credit. Back in the day, every print I sent out to a magazine had it stamped on the back, and all the invoices I sent out had it written in big letters at the top. Didn't make the slightest bit of difference. Sherry, Cheri, you name it. 

Neil Young photo credited to Cheri. Really?

Well, whatever. I've even had Lynn spelled Lyn. (And that happened again just recently when PhotoShelter mentioned me on their blog. Oops.) Once, a magazine even put my name as Sheri Baker. (More on that story in a later post.) 

Sheri Lyn Behr's the credit on this photo
 of Rick Derringer in Hard Rock magazine

Closeup of the photo credit.

And of course, sometimes they would forget to put any credit at all. I did like it when they apologized for that. 

But as I would say at the time, as long as I can cash the check…  

Oh, and if you ever meet me face to face or send me an email... I'm Sheri. 
Just Sheri. 

All photos and text © sheri lynn behr unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved.