Scott Cameron

When I started in the music business, I had to gain the trust of the “Gatekeepers,” the people behind the artists. I had to prove to them that I would take good pictures of their clients, and submit them to legitimate magazines. The first person that trusted me was a guy by the name of Scott Cameron. He was a little guy from the south suburbs, who managed giants. When I first met him, he was managing Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, people that I never thought I would be able to get access to. But, lo and behold, he took a liking to me, and started calling me whenever his guys were playing in the area. He always treated me with total respect, and gave me all the access I needed. Through the years, as his clients passed away, he became the executor of Muddy’s estate, and retained many of my photos on his website. When someone called about using one of them, he would direct them to me, telling the potential client that only I had the right to make that decision. He was truly the most honest man I have ever met in the music business.

His business transitioned to selling soda pop!! “Get your kicks with Route 66 Beer

He also had this philosophy, which many people did not know:

“From day one it has always been my philosophy that if a record company or music publisher has one-dollar due to a writer, artist or their family, it belongs to that writer, artist or family, not in the company’s accounts.” – Scott Cameron

So he spent a lot of his time researching and collecting back royalties and publishing funds for the heirs of artists that sometimes didn’t know they were owed that money. From his website:

According to Scott A. Cameron, President & CEO, “We became aware of the rights of the artist when we discovered that Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon were not receiving royalties anywhere near the amounts they should have been due to the hundreds of songs they had written and recordings they had made.  Our research at the Library of Congress Copyright Offices discovered both been induced to sign agreements that divested them of their rights and the rights of their families for the life of their copyrights and any renewals.”

“In 1976, on behalf of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon we engaged attorneys, provided them with information and assistance in bringing legal actions against a certain music publisher.  While the cases eventually settled, the rights to their individual songwriting catalogs were returned to them in full.  The catalogs are now benefitting their families for many years to come.  A few years later we guided attorneys successfully through similar legal actions on behalf of the family of Jimmy Reed.”

“We are constantly researching ‘lost’ royalties and the family members who may be due these funds as heirs to the writer or artist.  Many potential heirs may be distantly related, however, that does not diminish their right to claim royalties and rights that would be due the writer or artist if he or she were still alive today.” noted Matthew S. Cameron, V.P. Client Relations. “While every recovery may not be a major one, our philosophy is that if there is one dollar due to our clients, they should have it and not the music publisher or recording company.”

To lear more about this amazing guy, click here.

Scott passed away last week, and he will be greatly missed by the music community, and anyone who believes in the rights of artists ANYWHERE!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John Belushi

In  June of 1980, a friend of mine asked me to come hang around for a day in a suite at a fancy hotel in downtown Chicago with a couple of comedians who had started doing a musical skit called the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night Live the year before.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi promoting the movie "Blues Brothers" on June16, 1980 in Chicago,Il. It got real popular, and a movie was filmed in Chicago expanding on the skit. And MAN it was funny!! So I spent a day with John Belushi and Dan Ayckroyd, laughing and taking a bunch of pictures. Shortly after that they played at Chicagofest and I got my infamous picture of the guys with Mayor Jane Byrne.

Mayor Jane Byrne with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as the Blues Brothers at Chicagofest on August 3, 1979 in Chicago,Il.  A few days later, they were honored by the Mayor in her office, and I became the guy with the camera who was always there.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi meet Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne to recieve the key to the city after releasing the movie "Blues Brothers" on June 17, !980 in Chicago,Il.Later that year they went on tour and I shot a couple of dates, funny shows with great musicians backing them (Most of the SNL band).

About a year later, John was hired to star in a movie called Continental Divide, a film that took place in rugged mountain country. He knew he would have to train to make it through that film, so he called my friend Fred Degerberg, who owned (and still does) a gym in Chicago. Fred agreed to open his place for John, who arrived in town with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.

John Belushi working out with Bill "Superfoot" Wallace to get in shape for the movie "Continental Divide" on June 25, 1980 in Chicago,Il. Bill was the Professional Karate Association world full-contact karate champion at the time. He was also the Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion kickboxer. The training started and John asked me to stop by and photograph. I will never forget the comic genius trying to kick his leg over his head like Bill. He failed, but never stopped trying!

John Belushi working out to get in shapr for the movie "Continental Divide" on November 23, 1980 in Chicago,Il.I never ran into John again. On March 5, 1982, Bill Wallace found John Belushi dead of a cocaine and heroin overdose, in his room in Bungalow 3, at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles. I just watched him on the SNL 40th Anniversary Show last weekend. What a shame his life was cut short.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rockpile

I heard a great song on the radio this week and it reminded me of a cool shoot. Back in the beginning of my career, I started contributing photos to CREEM Magazine. It was a very cool time in the business, and CREEM would accept photos of any musical artist, as long as they could make a good caption to go with it. So every month I would have 2 or 3 images in the magazine, and I was starting to gain the trust of the art director. I kept on hoping for an assignment, and finally one day it came! Charlie, the art director, asked me to do a shoot with an English band called Rockpile for the cover. They were a great band, with two legendary musicians- Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds.

So, I headed down to their hotel with all the equipment I could carry, knowing that this was a career making shoot. When I got to the designated room, I unrolled a piece of red background paper and taped it to the wall. The band walked in, and they couldn’t have been nicer (this was their first American magazine cover) and proceeded to do whatever I asked them to do. This wasn’t much, as putting four guys in a rectangle with room for copy isn’t easy, but I walked out of there with some great photos and a month later I had my first magazine cover!

Creem- RockpileThere were many more covers since that day, but, as they say, you always remember the first time, and every time I hear a Rockpile song on the radio, I remember my first major assignment!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chris Robinson

I got a call on Friday from my friend Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes,  inviting me down to his band’s show on Friday night. Of course I said yes, as hilarity will almost always ensue! Had a great conversation with Chris and Keith Van Horne (from the 1985 Bears) backstage before the show. (Hilarity did ensue).

It is sad that the Black Crowes have broken up. Thery were a great band for 24 years that seem to have hit a new creative Plateau a few years ago, when they last toured. The last few shows that I saw were fabulous, with the band transitioning from rock band to jam band over the course of a few nights.

But maybe the fallout of them breaking up means that there are now three great bands touring the country. Chris’s band, the Brotherhood played two sets of great music Friday night with the crowd singing along with every song. They even have their own brand of beer, sold at each venue they play in (coming soon to a store near you).

 

Steve Gorman’s band, Trigger Hippy is a great soul, rock band fronted by Joan Osbourne, one of the greatest singers I have ever heard. And Rich’s band, who I haven’t seen yet, is, from what I have heard a great rocking band.

 

So maybe the fallout is that, rather than getting one call a year inviting me out for some great music, I now get three calls a year!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marshawn Lynch

Has anyone ever heard of a job where, after working your ass off all day, you punch out and then have to sit down and answer stupid questions about your performance that day? I can’t.

Every major sports league has a  rule that states that after every game, win or lose, a player must make himself available to the press. Guess they think the press is too stupid to come up with their own story, even after watching a game for 3 hours.

So this week, Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks sat down for his MANDATORY 5 minute press conference. He answered about 20 questions with exactly the same answer- “ I am just here so I don’t get fined.”

A year ago he answered the question of why he hated talking to the media:

“I’ve never seen anybody win the game in the media. But at the same time, I understand what it could do for you, if you wanted to be someone who talks a lot. But that’s not me.

“And I’m not as comfortable, especially at the position I play, making it about me. As a running back, it takes five offensive linemen, a tight end, a fullback and possibly two wide receivers, in order to make my job successful. But when I do interviews, most of the time it’ll come back to me. There are only so many times I can say, ‘I owe it to my offensive linemen,’ or, ‘The credit should go to my teammates,’ before it becomes run down.

“This goes back even to Pop Warner. You’d have a good game and they’d want you to give a couple of quotes for the newspaper, and I would let my other teammates be the ones to talk. That’s how it was in high school, too. At Cal, I’d have my cousin, Robert Jordan, and Justin Forsett do it.

“Football’s just always been hella fun to me, not expressing myself in the media. I don’t do it to get attention; I just do it ’cause I love that (expletive).”

Shouldn’t it be enough that he plays like a wild man? I don’t feel that he is off base in not wanting to talk to the media. I give him a lot of credit!!

Here are a couple of quotes I have collected from press conferences over the years:

Half this game is ninety percent mental   -Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark

The word “genius” isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein -Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst

Maybe those guys should have refused to talk!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sports Illustrated

First it was the Chicago Sun Times, now it is Sports Illustrated. This week SI fired their whole photography staff. The only thing I can equate this to is if the mid 90’s Bulls fired Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin! The Sports Illustrated photographers were the gold standard of sports photographers. Now they are going to be dependent on freelance guys (not bad for the freelance guys) and they will save a bunch of money from not having to pay benefits any more.

Brad Smith, director of photography for Sports Illustrated, spoke about the move Friday:

“There was a decision made through the company to restructure various departments, including at Sports Illustrated,” Smith said. “Unfortunately economic circumstances are such that it has cut the six staff photographers.” 

Photography has long been the lifeblood for Sports Illustrated, which boasts a number of iconic covers in its archives.

The magazine will maintain a photography department with editors and personnel like Smith still in place. Novak declined to comment about the magazine’s freelance budget. 

Oh well, another era ends. Jim Kirk, publisher of the Sun Times, says that photographs are not important to the newspaper. Maybe the Illustrated part of Sports Illustrated doesn’t mean anything anymore either.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Minneapolis

Only I would make a road trip to Minneapolis in mid-January! Luckily there was a heat wave (high 20’s) and a good time was had by all.

The Minneapolis Photography Center asked me to jury an international Music Photography contest. About a month and a half ago, I received a link to a website with about 700 images to scroll through. Each image had a yes and a no button next to it. My job was to narrow it down to 75 and pick three winners and three honorable mentions. It wasn’t easy, as there was some great stuff. But I did it. They also asked me to exhibit some of my images, which they offered to print for me.

So Wednesday I flew up to Minneapolis, was picked up by Orie, the owner of the Center and given a tour of the place. YIKES. What a fabulous place. It is in an old warehouse building and it has three great gallery spaces wrapped around digital and photographic darkrooms with large format Epson printers. A membership gets you use of all that stuff, along with all the printing you need (at a square inch price). The rock and roll exhibit was wrapped around two hallways and a full gallery. It was spectacular. Most of the images were from Minneapolis photographers. They have a great scene up there. While I was there a study came up that stated that Minneapolis had the 5th best art scene in America (Chicago didn’t maker the top ten) and it showed in the exhibit.

Thursday night before the opening we had a panel discussion about the state of Rock and Roll photography. I was on the panel with two of Minneapolis’s top photographers, Stephen Cohen (who won first place in the contest), and Tony Nelson, moderated by legendary music writer Jon Bream. A lively discussion ensued. When Jon and I got there about a half and hour before the discussion there were a hundred chairs setup, and about 3 people wandering around. Uh-O!! A half hour later all the chairs were filled and standing room was filled also!!

Friday night was opening night. The exhibit looked fabulous. They printed my stuff on a large format Epson printer and screwed the prints to the walls.

ShowThe Rock photo exhibit was massive, covered two rooms. They spent all day cooking pasta and preparing salads. When the doors opened people started pouring in. All together more than 500 people walked through the two exhibits! All of the artists that were in the exhibit had name tags with one of their images printed above their name. Attention to detail!!! It was a great time with a great photo community.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Genesis

In June of 1980, I was hanging out backstage at a Genesis concert when two guys walked up to me and asked me who I was photographing for. I told them I was a freelance photographer. They handed me a card and asked me to come and see them the next day. They were a small merchandising company. When I =brought them my portfolio, they got very excited. One of them picked up his phone and called the band’s manager at their hotel. He asked them if I could join the band on the road for the next couple of days and photograph their next two shows for use on some posters they were getting ready to produce.

This was pretty amazing, as I had never been on the road with a band before!!

So, I packed a bag and went out to the show that night. When the show ended, I was shown out to the bus, and soon was on the road with the band. It was kind of surreal, as I had never been on a tour bus before, and had never really met the band.

We reached Indianapolis that night and checked into a hotel. The next day I met the band in the lobby and we went to sound check. I started wandering around, being a fly on the wall and trying to not get in the way. After sound check, Phil Collins walked up to me and asked me if I played Ping Pong. I told him I played a little. At that moment, a Ping Pong battle erupted!! He was almost professional level, and beat me badly, but it was a great bonding moment. I shot the show that night, and we heade3d for Detroit, where another Ping Pong battle happened, and another show was shot.

The next morning, I flew home, got the film processed, and a few weeks later, I was called to the merchandiser’s office to see the final posters .

My first roads trip, and my first merchandise produced. All in all a great time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Fan

What would the artist be without the fan? While going through some old Aerosmith photos the other day, I came across this image that I took in 1982. There is some dedication to their favorite band!! Those days are gone. One almost never sees this kind of display in 2015! It seems that the audience just sits there waiting for the band to deliver. There is hardly any passion anymore!

Aerosmith at the Rosemont Horizon on November 24th, 1982 in Rosemont, Illinois.

 

That being said, the passion is on full display at Buddy Guy’s Legends this month. Remember, this is January ion Chicago!! The fans start lining up at about 6AM to grab the available tables- first come first serve. Buddy doesn’t come on stage till 10:30 or 11PM. The audience sits there for about 1`0 hours, eating and drinking and listening to music. They all know each other.

The three standouts in this arena are two guys named Mike, and their friend Ron. These guys have been to about 90% of the Buddy Guy January shows for the last 20 years!!!! Some might say that they are a bunch of whack jobs (and they would probably be right) but they are also smart guys with responsible jobs. One Mike is a real estate appraiser, the other fixes heart lung machines in hospitals around the area. Ron is a podiatrist. They not only come to almost all the shows, but they sit down front from start to finish and listen!! (except when they give up their front row seats so that someone else can feel a little joy).

Buddy Guy_0184

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that fans like these guys are in short supply these days. Any artist would be happy to have guys like this around!!!

Buddy Guy_0181

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dixie Chicks

In August of 1999, a road manager I knew called me and asked me if I would like to come to New Orleans and photograph the band he was working with. They were called the Dixie Chicks, and they were playing at the Superdome, opening for George Strait. I didn’t know much about them- I kind of thought they were a country version of the Spice Girls. But, I will go to New Orleans for anyone, so I flew down there and called the road manager from the lobby of their hotel. He suggested that I put my luggage in his room, and wait for them on their bus, which I did.

Soon, the girls jumped on the bus, and immediately started a conversation about my career, all based on the fact that they had looked at every page of my website. I was very impressed. When we got to the Superdome, they had to immediately go into a meet and greet. I played a fly on the wall, and watched them spend one and one time with every person in the room. I was even more impressed.

Dixie Chicks

Then they hit the stage, and my being impressed went through the roof. Man, they were great!! Great musicians, great voices and some great songs. When they got done playing, they asked me what I thought, and I told them I was officially a fan. They gave me the keys to all their rooms, told me to pick the one I liked and bring the rest to the front desk, as they were heading out. They dropped me off and headed out into the night. As they left me at the hotel, they invited me to the Chicago show the following week.

About a year later, they put out a new album, called “Fly.” They flew me down to Nashville, and I took pictures while they shot a series of television commercials for their first big headline tour. The commercials were hilarious, showing them mistaking a bidet for a drinking fountain, dropping a purse in the middle of a fancy hotel lobby and having about a hundred small shampoo bottles and soaps spill out, and jumping out of the back of a limo to pump their own gas. One of the first singles from the album was a song called “Goodbye Earl,” a story about an abusive husband, and how his wife dealt with it. Very controversial for country music, but it became a hit very quickly. So, they shot a video in Hollywood, and flew me out to shoot around the video. I spent two days in the Hollywood Hills with the Dixie Chicks, Dennis Franz,  Lauren Holly, Jane Krakowski, Adrian Pasdar and Michael DeLuise. Two beautiful days and two really cold nights in the Hills made for the #1 country video of the year!

Dixie Chicks_04

 

 

Dixie ChicksEarly the next year, they flew me to Winnipeg, to begin 4 days of shows across Canada, pictures of which appeared in ads and tour merchandise. I have followed their careers since then and have thoroughly enjoyed their music through the years whenever I went to photograph them. It is nice to see they good guys win!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment