Taylor Swift

So, everyone is patting themselves on the back for getting Taylor Swift to back down on her treatment of Photographers. YIKES!!

My thoughts:

It is doubtful (and isn’t spelled out in her contract) whether she will allow you to work off of an assignment from a wire service or agency. So there goes any chance you might have of syndication of the photographs. (Any photographs taken by you will only be used by the organization you represent and its website for news and information/editorial purposes)

She will not allow you to use the photographs for commercial purposes. (You will not use the photographs for any commercial purpose unless you receive prior written permission from us. This use will be for news or information/editorial purposes by the organization listed below and on its associated websites.) That is no big deal as no one is allowed to capitalize on another person’s likeness anyway. Any professional photographer should know that!!

She (one of the richest people in the world) still wants to use the photographer’s work with no compensation (If Taylor Swift wishes to post a review or photo of The 1989 World Tour used by your publication on any of her social media accounts or pages, you hereby grant Taylor Swift and Firefly Entertainment, Inc. (FEI), worldwide rights to use such links on her social media accounts.)  (If Taylor Swift wishes to post a review or photo of The 1989 World Tour used by your publication on any of her social media accounts or pages, you hereby grant Taylor Swift and Firefly Entertainment, Inc. (FEI), worldwide rights to use such links on her social media accounts.) This means nothing, as everyone links to good reviews in their social media already. Nobody ever asks permission!!

And now the part that was not mentioned:

You are still only allowed to photograph two songs (the beginning, and the most boring part of the show). More than likely, you will be shooting from about 50 yards away, meaning you will have to bring at least a 400mm lens and you will be shooting through a sea of hands and heads of her fans. You will also be shooting at a straight on angle (very unflattering). If you are allowed to shoot from the “photo” pit, you will be directly in front of (most likely) a high stage, and will be shooting right up her nose. You will also not be able to see all the stage sets, and they will not appear in your photographs.

So if you agree to these terms, you will most likely spend about $150.00 (lens rental and transportation) to make about $50.00 or less back. (Or nothing back, as most blogs don’t pay for photographs!

So to recap:

You still only get to take crappy pictures.

Taylor Swift still gets to use them for free (on social media).

You can still only license them to one entity, and not to an agency.

You lose money on the deal, and do a lot of work for nothing.

Just my 2 cents!!




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FINAL thoughts on the Foo Fighters

From the Digital Photography Review website:


So, no matter what anyone thinks about the Foo Fighters, they have a brilliant publicist! After putting together a set of completely photographer unfriendly rules, the Foo Fighters actually get coverage (Probably more that they would have gotten if they let photographers shoot!)

There are many comments posted on the DPR site, among them:

The answer is simple, don’t shoot or publicise any of their gigs, albums etc. and if they want publicity, make them sign a stupid contract that assigns you the right and royalties to all sales etc.
Maybe this is a good opportunity for less known acts to get free publicity by filling the gap left in the magazine pages!

NO ONE is forced to sign the band’s contract, or very much any contract. It’s that simple.

Just leave them alone. Let their management team photograph them with a smart phone and then see the results!
Maybe then they’ll appreciate the presence of a real photographer, and (maybe) then they’d agree that they should pay the photographer some petty-cash money!

And my favorite one:

The photographer has the option to say “thanks, but no, thanks” and walk away, or “SELL” the copyrights.

If the band/artist buys the copyrights from a photographer, then the photographer has nothing to complain about, and the artist should be free to use the images in any way they like. That’s fair.

Personally, I would not sell them the copyrights unless the price is attractive enough, or if I was in a difficult financial situation without many options.

The other option is to sell the photo gear, go to art school and become a cartoonist :-)

So, the band wins and gets a lot of free publicity.

I was just on the phone with a friend of mine who licensed a lot of photos to the HBO “Sonic Highways” series. She reminded me that that series couldn’t have happened without archival images from the 70’s and 80’s.

I wonder what is going to happen in 20 years when someone wants to do a TV show and there are no images to be had!!!


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Foo Fighters Contract

There has been a lot of internet talk about the Foo Fighters photo restrictions. First and foremost is a post from a Norwegian photographer named Jarle H. Moe


He talks about the integrity of photographers, something that Jim Marshall taught me many years ago. It is a great read, as it talks about how giving in to these contracts makes you lose any artistic integrity you might have thought you already had! It also explains why things are different in other countries. The comments are even more interesting, including this response by Jarle to a comment:

As pointed out, I wrote this piece to show how we, Norwegian concert photographers, have greatly benefited from banding together to not sign contracts, so your whole argument is faulty. The matter at hand here, is not photographers working directly for a musician/management or promoter. Then, there are, naturally, different terms; and you get to actually negotiate them. On the other hand, a photojournalist that gets handed a contract at a venue, either has to sign it, or walk away. Those are the only two options. I say, that for photojournalists with any integrity for their profession, signing is not an option. When all concert photographers band together to uphold the freedom of press and free flow of information, contracts gets dropped, as musicians and their managements value getting coverage more than having control.

Of course, banding together in the US is nearly impossible (kind of like herding cats). Norway is a relatively small country, with a small amount of photographers, who probably all know each other (at least in passing). It is something to think about here in the US, although it has been tried before with disastrous results!

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Foo Fighters

Whenever a photo controversy comes up, you can be sure that the Foo Fighters are involved! Seems kind of funny that a band that talks so much about coming from punk roots would have such disdain for artists trying to ear a living.

The Washington City Paper says it won’t be sending a photographer to this weekend’s Foo Fighter concert due to the fact that the band’s contract “sucks.” Instead, the paper hopes to buy photos directly from fans who attend the show.

In an article explaining its decision, the newspaper shared a copy of the contract that was provided by the Foo Fighters: “If we signed it, we would have agreed to: the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band,” writes the City Paper.

“Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have ‘the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations’ without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.”

“That is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple.”

Their contract states:


I _______________________ (name of photographer) hereby agree to the following in favor of Foo Fighters (“you”) with respect to the photographs to be taken by me of the members of

Foo Fighters  (either as a group or as individuals) on the date referenced below (the “Photos”): 1. I have the limited right and permission to use the Photos, subject to your approval of the Photos, solely in connection with one (1) article about Foo Fighters  contained in ___________________  _____________________ [name and description of article, publication or other medium]. The Photos may be used only in an article, publication or other medium initially disseminated to the public within one year of the date of this agreement. I shall have no right to use or re-use the Photos in whole or in part, in any medium or for any purpose whatsoever, including, without limitation, promotion, advertising, and trade, without your written consent therefor.

2. I hereby acknowledge that you shall own all rights in the Photos, including the copyrights therein and thereto, and accordingly, I hereby grant, transfer, convey and assign to you all right, title and interest throughout the universe in perpetuity, including, without limitation, the copyright (and all renewals and extensions thereof), in and to the Photos. I agree that you shall have the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations as you determine, without obtaining my consent and without any payment or consideration therefor. I understand that you will give me appropriate “photo credit” where possible. I understand further that all aspects of said “photo credit” shall be determined by you in your sole discretion and that failure to accord said “photo credit” shall not be deemed a breach of any obligation, express or implied. I will, upon request, execute, acknowledge and deliver to you such additional documents as you may deem necessary to evidence and effectuate your rights hereunder, and I hereby grant to you the right as attorney-in-fact to execute, acknowledge, deliver and record in the U.S. Copyright Office or elsewhere any and all such documents if I shall fail to execute same within five (5) days after so requested by you

You may assign your rights under this agreement in whole or in part.

4. I hereby waive all rights of droit moral or “moral right of authors” or any similar rights or principles of law which I may now have or later have in the Photos. I warrant and represent that I have the right to execute this Release and that the Photos are and shall be new and original with me. I shall indemnify and hold you, and your employees, officers, agents, assignees and licensees, harmless from and against any losses, costs, liabilities, claims, damages or expenses arising out of any claim by a third party which is inconsistent with any warranty or representation made by me in this Release.

5. This Release contains the entire understanding of the parties and will be governed by the laws of California applicable to contracts entered into in California

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have signed this Release effective as of this ______ day

of  _____________________, 20____.

By:  ___________________________________________ Photographer

The newspaper contacted the Foo Fighters’ management, but the response was typical: these contracts are “standard” and are necessary to “protect the band,” they claimed. City Paper points out that the Rolling Stones, though one of the biggest names in music, don’t make the same demands in their contracts.

Instead of signing the contract and sending a photographer to the Foo Fighters show, City Paper is asking fans who attend the show to send in photos if they’d like to see it published.

“We’ll pay you for it,” the paper says. “And we won’t ask you to sign over the copyright or your first born, either.”

After photographer Jason Sheldon wrote a viral open letter to speak out against Taylor Swift’s concert photo contract,

The Irish Times said:  Taylor Swift played the first of two sold-out shows in Dublin last night, but you won’t find a photograph of her onstage at the 3Arena in The Irish Times today.  The singer has insisted all photographers covering her live shows sign contracts which outline restrictions on what they can and cannot do with pictures of the pop star onstage. The use of such contracts has become increasingly common in the live music business in recent years.  However, Swift’s photograph authorisation contract includes a number of onerous restrictions, including a “one-time-only” use limit on publishing the photograph which elapses at the end of 2015. Any other use requires “written consent” from the artist or her agent, while Swift reserves the “perpetual, worldwide” right to use the photographs for publicity and promotion.  Talking about the decision not to use photographs of the singer, The Irish Times deputy picture editor Brenda Fitzsimons said: “The terms and conditions of the contract are exceedingly restrictive and just not feasible for a working newspaper and website.   “The photographs may be used on a one-time only basis and by signing her contract we grant Swift perpetual, worldwide right to use the published photographs in any way she sees fit.”

I was always under the impression that a contract was only legal if both parties signed the contract in each others presence, and in good faith. Leaving a contract at the box office does not work for me, as I would like the ability to negotiate the terms of the contract with a representative of the band. If not I will hand the contract back and walk.

I was also always under the impression that a contract has to have a penalty clause included or it is not valid. What will happen to me if I don’t follow the rules of the contract? If I don’t know that answer, I will hand it back and walk.

I also don’t think it is in the best interest of a major star to sue a poor lowly photographer in public. It would not make them look good!

The Foo Fighters management says that these contracts are “Standard” and necessary to “protect the band.” Protect them from what? Publicity!!

A good picture can double the size of the article. A good picture can double the size of the advance article, even a year from the date the picture was taken. Many good pictures can make a greatest hits box set bigger and better!! (Oh, I forgot. They now own all the images taken of them on this tour, and can use them whenever they want!!

I hereby acknowledge that you shall own all rights in the Photos, including the copyrights therein and thereto, and accordingly, I hereby grant, transfer, convey and assign to you all right, title and interest throughout the universe in perpetuity, including, without limitation, the copyright (and all renewals and extensions thereof), in and to the Photos. I agree that you shall have the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations as you determine, without obtaining my consent and without any payment or consideration therefor. I understand that you will give me appropriate “photo credit” where possible. I understand further that all aspects of said “photo credit” shall be determined by you in your sole discretion and that failure to accord said “photo credit” shall not be deemed a breach of any obligation, express or implied.

It is hard to imagine that their publicity company “Nasty Little Man” agrees with this, but maybe so. Many large publicity companies are just doing what the managers of the bands want. Kinda like the tail wagging the dog. Not many have the balls to tell the manager they are wrong.

The only good thing to come out of all this is that there are two newspapers in the world that will stand up to this craziness. But they didn’t go far enough. Foo Fighters still win if the paper buys fans photographs. They still get the publicity. Professional photographers lose!

I will always remember a review in a Toronto paper of a Wham- Pointer Sisters show. The entire review was about the Pointer Sisters (photos included). The final line of the review was: “Wham closed the show.”

When that happens more often, maybe there will be a chance!









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Taylor Swift is in the news again!

She complained that Apple isn’t paying here for streaming her songs for a short time on their new streaming service. This is not costing her a lot of money- but it is getting great publicity for Apple. They must be rolling on the floor laughing!! They cannot buy this kind of publicity!

From Taylor’s letter to Apple:

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

So….A photographer (Jason Seldon)wrote on his blog that after reading her contract for photographers on her last two tours, he deemed it “a complete rights grab.”

He wrote:

How are you any different to Apple?  If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great..  make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support.  But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else? Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.

He is correct that Taylor is participating in a complete double standard, but as usual, like almost every photographer on the planet, he gets it completely wrong by calling it a “rights grab”

A rights grab would be if the tour personnel locked the photographers in a room, demanded their Compact Flash cards, downloaded them into a computer, wiped them clean, and then let the photographers go! This is an example of many stupid photographers who GIVE AWAY their rights because they want a picture of Taylor Swift for their portfolio. They all have a choice- they could refuse to sign her contract, hand it back, get in their cars and go home. They won’t be losing any money (other than their parking fee) and won’t have to spend any computer time editing photos that they have given away WILLINGLY.

The economics of the situation are such that a photographer loses money every time the sign one of these ridiculous contracts. But still, every time I go to a show where these contracts are presented to photographers, I see five to ten of them in the photo pit. The only way they could have gotten there is to have signed the contract!

So…My advice is rip up the contract and go home. You will save a lot of money.

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Mumford and Sons

Friday afternoon I showed up at a new concert area in Chicago. Jam Productions was trying out a concert on the beach on the north side, and asked me to shoot some pictures of the venue and the crowds. I arrived as the gates were opening as people went running in to spread blankets in an idyllic setting to hear Mumford and Sons. Around 6PM, I went backstage to have some dinner. While eating, the head of Jam came up to me and told me to be ready around 7PM, as the Blackhawks were arriving with the Stanley Cup. At about 7:15, two large black buses pulled up, and the world champions strolled off .Brandon Saad walked backstage carrying the Stanley Cup, and set it up on a table.

Mumford and Sons_0094

At that point, a feeding frenzy erupted- everyone wanted their picture with the cup. I obliged, as many of them were my friends, although I have no idea who some of them were and don’t know how to get them the pictures! Toward the end of the craziness, someone came up to me and said “Give me your camera and get over there. You need a picture with the cup.”



At that time I was ready to go home, when I was told that the Hawks were going up on stage with the cup during the show. So I stuck around, and watched the Hawks revel in their celebrity (They got more applause than Mumford) as they poured beer into the cup and poured it over the heads of the band.

Mumford and Sons_0210 2


All in all it was amazing to me that a large shiny metal object was the star of the show, even though people had paid a lot of money to see a band!!

Mumford and Sons_0125

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The Blues is still alive!!

Walking around the grounds of the Chicago Bluesfest yesterday with my pal Shemekia Copeland. After check in with the local constables_DSC0141…..

we had a conversation about the future of the blues. Although she has been performing for 20 years she is still one of the young bloods of the blues scene. We watched Jarekis Singleton, who has been performing for about 3 years, tear up the stage for 75 minutes of amazing performance, while talking about the passing of B.B. King and who will step forward and take his place.

Jarekus Singleton at the Chicago Blues Festival on June 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

We then walked back to the main stage where, shortly, Toronzo Cannon, a Chicago bus driver and amazing guitar player tore it up in front of an overflow crowd as dark clouds approachedToronzo Cannon_0009

Then, as the rain started, Shemikia blew the crowd away with her amazing voice and great showmanship (and a great sense of humor!!)

Shemekia Copeland_0049

The night ended with Buddy Guy, 79 years old and still the undisputed heavy weight king of the world, showing everyone that a little rain cannot stop him!!

Buddy Guy_0006

Looks like the blues will be all right for a while!!!

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Brian Wilson

There is a new movie out this week about the life and times of Brian Wilson. I wasn’t a big fan, and didn’t know much about him until I went out on tour with him in 1999. I always thought of him as that guy who wrote the surf and car songs of the 1960’s. Then, in 1999, I became his road manager and spent 2 years with him, his family and his band, traveling the world. I acquired a much deeper appreciation for him and his music over that time.

Brian Wilson at his home on July 12th, 1998 in St. Charles, Illinois.














When I first met him, I saw him as a sad, introverted guy with a lot of baggage. Soon, I saw him rely on his band and crew to give him a sense of normalcy. I never really thought he was comfortable in the spotlight. Every night, when I would bring him to the stage, he would turn and ask me if I thought anyone would be out there to hear him. Then he would walk out on stage to a standing ovation by a sold out crowd, and a big smile would cross his face. The next night, he would ask the same question!

There are many people out in the world that love and respect him, and many more that just want to hang with him for his celebrity. There were some surreal moments on tour. He always talked about how much he was influenced by the harmonies of the Four Freshman. When we were in Las Vegas, someone came to me backstage to introduce me to Bob Flanagan, one of the Four Freshmen. I brought him to meet Brian after the show, and I thought Brian’s face would crack- we was smiling ear to ear.

When we played Los Angeles, we decided that nobody would be allowed backstage (too hometown crazy). Then, in one moment, the rule went out the window when Carol Kaye, the legendary bass player from the Wrecking Crew, walked through the door. I walked her to Brian’s dressing room, she walked in the door and said “Hey boss, how’s it going?” One of the great moments of rock and roll life.










In New York, at the Beacon, I got a call from Ronnie Spector’s husband asking for tickets. During the show, Brian did one cover song- “Be My Baby” which he introduced as one of the greatest songs ever recorded. So after the show, I brought Ronnie backstage, and she sat on Brian’s lap and sang “Be My Baby” to him.

One of my greatest moments was meeting Van Dyke Parks, the brilliant lyricist for many great Beach Boys songs (among his many accomplishments). Hearing his voice over my phone when he needed something connected to the tour was one of my personal highlights!













In rehearsals for the second year of touring, the band decided to introduce another cover- The Barenaked Ladies new song “Brian Wilson.” When we got to Toronto, Stephen Page, the lead singer of BNL, and the writer of that song, asked me for tickets. I gave him a pair in the fourth row, and when the band kicked him to his song, I thought he was going to cry! Crazy to see the subject of a song singing the song to the guy that wrote it!!














There are many more stories like this, all based on the love people had for one of the greatest composers in popular music. I am going to see the movie this week- hopefully it will do him justice!!

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Is this art???

So a guy goes on Instagram, takes a screen shot of a random photo that he finds there, replaces the caption with one of his own, enlarges it and places it on the wall of a very well known gallery in NYC, along with 36 more like it. The exhibit sells out, at $90,000 per image.


“Richard Prince, 65, whose New Portraits exhibition consisting of 37 screenshots of Instagram photos sold out at New York Frieze last week, is known for appropriating found images and treads a fine line between copyright infringement and art.

“I don’t see any difference now between what I collect and what I make,” Prince has said.”

Prince successfully side-steps copyright laws by removing the captions on Instagram photographs he has replicated, replacing them with his own.

He began using found images long before the internet gave him the opportunity to scroll through thousands of selfies.

During the 1970s and early 1980s began to re-photograph adverts in magazines, which he described as “social science fiction,” cropping them, removing text, and grouping them by subject.

Prince was sued by another artist Patrick Cariou who said he had stolen his photographs. But the artist won an appeal against the litigation in 2013 and the case became just another footnote in the saga of copyright law versus freedom of expression.


Is there a difference between freedom of expression and flat out stealing? The only problem with this story:

#5 under rights on the Instagram page:

  The Service contains content owned or licensed by Instagram (“Instagram Content”). Instagram Content is protected by copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret and other laws, and, as between you and Instagram, Instagram owns and retains all rights in the Instagram Content and the Service. You will not remove, alter or conceal any copyright, trademark, service mark or other proprietary rights notices incorporated in or accompanying the Instagram Content and you will not reproduce, modify, adapt, prepare derivative works based on, perform, display, publish, distribute, transmit, broadcast, sell, license or otherwise exploit the Instagram Content.


Reporting Copyright and Other IP Violations

  1. We respect other people’s rights, and expect you to do the same.
  2. We provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. To learn more about how to report claims of intellectual property infringement, visit: http://help.instagram.com/customer/portal/articles/270501
  3. If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.

So, what does this all mean? I guess it means that if you put a photo online, people can make $90,000 from it and you get nothing! That’s the internet for ya!!

A couple of years ago, I had a three hour “discussion” on the phone with a woman that was making T Shirts using one of my pictures of Randy Rhoads. She got a 72dpi image off of Flicker, and started making shirts, and selling them on her website. It took me three hours to get her to understand that

  1. I have never been on Flicker
  2. I have never placed any photos on Flicker.
  3. She was infringing on my copyright, and harming the relationship I have with Randy’s estate by continuing

The next day the site was gone. But…It left me thinking about how many of my images were floating around the internet, ready to be stolen by any one who wanted them!!


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Joan Jett and Pat Benatar

Last week there was a lot of talk on the internet about whether Joan Jett belonged in the R&R Hall of Fame. Many people asked the question “If she is in why not Pat Benatar?”

I have photographed both of these ladies many times and I can say that both of them deserve to be in the rock hall!

I first photographed Joan when she was in the Runaways, Americas first manufactured all girl punk band. They had a lot of energy, but Joan stood out as the only member who actually seemed to have a punk attitude. Lita Ford went on to become a metal star, but Joan remained true to her punk roots, and started a solo career. She would not let anyone have a photo pass to her shows, so I started sneaking in and shooting from the crowd. The pictures were valuable, because nobody had any good pictures of her. Then, one day in 1985, I got a call from a publicist at Epic Records, asking if I wanted a photo pass for one of her area shows! Holy crap- she was going to let me shoot the right way. I went up to the box office, and there was a note with my pass asking me to come backstage before the show. When I arrived back there, her manager, Kenny Laguna shook my hand and then yelled out “Hey Joan, come out and meet the guy who has been sneaking pictures of you for the last few years.” Joan came into the room and told me how much she liked my pictures, and we became friends.

Joan 1



















In April of 1986, I got a call from the producer of a film being shot in the Chicago suburbs. It was called  “Light of Day”, named after a Bruce Springsteen lyric and written and directed by Paul Schrader. It starred Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as brothers and sisters who fronted a rock band from Cleveland. Kenny had recommended that Paul Schrader meet me, as one of my photographs had recently been on the cover of Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen). I went to the set to meet with Mr. Schrader, and ended up spending 10 days with the crew shooting photos on set in Chicago and Cleveland.

Joan Jett- September 3rd, 1997










In November of 1979, I went to a club in Chicago to photograph David Johansen. The opening act was a little tiny woman in a leopard skin outfit by the name of Pat Benatar. She had an amazing voice, and in true Chicago fashion, was booed off the stage. After her short set, I went to the washroom (which was right next to the opening act’s dressing room). The door was open, and as I walked by I saw her sitting in a chair in shock, ready to cry. I knocked on the door, and when she motioned me in, I told her how much I enjoyed her voice, and apologized for my fellow Chicagoans rude behavior. I then asked her if I could take some pictures of her. She said yes and we walked out into the hallway and I posed her in front of a pile of chairs.

Pat Benatar




That was the first of many times I photographed her as I watched her become a superstar performer. She most certainly belongs in the rock hall!!

Pat 2


Something to watch: A TV duet with Pat and Martina McBride, two of the greatest voices on the planet!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbv5iJEDzN8

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