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.

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