In the middle 1980’s I met a guy named Lonnie Mack. He was a guitar player and songwriter who, I later found out, was a big influence on guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Duane Allman and Jeff Beck. He was living a pretty quiet life in central Indiana, occasionally going out to play some shows. He did a tour opening for George Thorogood. Then Alligator Records signed him, and I did a photo shoot for his album package.Then Epic Records signed him, and I was asked to photograph his album cover. He was playing somewhere in Indiana, so I went to photograph him there. After the show he invited a bunch of us back to his house, and we decided that it was easier to just stay there than find a motel. So we all slept on couches and extra beds. The next morning I got up to find Lonnie getting ready to go fishing, so I joined him for a while down on the dock.
He was an amazing guy, and a true gentleman. He was one of those guys who never made it over the hump. Just kept on playing, and making music for his fans. This week, while going through my Getty sales report, I saw a large amount of Lonnie Mack images licensed. I Googled him to find out that he had passed away at the end of April.
In April of 1982, a publicist from Polygram asked me if I wanted to do a shoot with a new band they had called Girlschool. I agreed and the next day the band arrived at my house! In the ensuing hours, I became friends with four very nice women. I went to see them that night, and they rocked the house! Loud and fast (very loud), they exploded onstage and the audience went crazy! I followed them for a few years, shooting a few shows, doing a few photo sessions, and then they kind of ran out of gas. Their records kept on being rereleased, and they seemed to still be touring.
Last week someone posted one of my photos of guitarist Kelly Johnson on Facebook with a notice that she had passed away in 2007!
It is amazing how the level of fame of a person determines how much press coverage they get. Kelly received almost no coverage, and Lonnie the same. A friend told me that he had an obituary in the New York Times, but none in Chicago.