Trigger Hippy

Last week I got an email from my friend Steve Gorman of the Black Crowes. It said simply- I am in town with my new band tonight at SPACE. Come down and hang.  So of course I grabbed my bag and headed up to the club.

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I had forgotten him telling me about this band a few years ago, so I was surprised to see a poster on the door for their band. They are called Trigger Hippy. I went backstage and saw Steve and Jackie Green from the Crowes, and two guys I didn’t know, and….a woman who looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place her. We were all sitting around talking when the bass player grabbed a stand up bass that was leaning in the corner, and started playing the bass line for David Bowie’s “Lets Dance.” Someone picked up a guitar and started playing the melody and everyone gathered around to sing. Then I figured out who the woman was. It was Joan Osbourne- one of the most unmistakable voices in music. They played Lets Dance for about 10 minutes and then hit the stage where they delighted the sold out crowd with some amazing musicianship and some great songs.

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It’s great to see talented people having fun making music!! (And the CD is fantastic!!)

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Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter passed away this week. In a hotel in Europe. I photographed Johnny  (by accident) in June of 1979. The concert at the Chicago Stadium was Eric Clapton, with Muddy Waters as the opener. Halfway through Muddy’s set (all the other photographers had left- guess they didn’t want to photograph the old black guy), Eric Clapton walked onstage from the left and Johnny Winter walked on from the right. Johnny was in town producing one of Muddy’s Blue Sky albums. They played one song together. As far as I know, I was the only photographer that stayed. This photograph has been in about 8 album packages since then.

Eric, Muddy, Johnny








In February of 1984, my friend Bruce Iglauer from Alligator Records brought Johnny to my house for an album cover shoot. I pulled out a purple background and had Johnny sit on a stool with a glass of Jack Daniels and an ashtray nearby, and had him play for about 2 hours. At one point, he paused and looked up at me, and BAM, I had my shot.



Several years later, on another Alligator cover shoot, we tried to set up a shot with a drink and a deck of cards in a bar, but settled for another studio shot, with Johnny playing a steel guitar.

I photographed him many times in concert, the last time being in 2008 at the Chicago Blues Fest. His manager asked me if I wanted to go out to the bus and say hi, and we headed backstage. We walked on the bus, and Johnny was sitting, head down at a small table at the front of the bus. I sat down across from him and said hi. He didn’t look up. But mumbled hi back. His manager told me he would be back in a few minutes. I tried to make some kind of conversation, but only received one word answers. When the manager came back, I left to go to the stage to photograph the show. I was bummed out, and worried that the show would not be as good as I hoped. But…….Johnny came out, sat on a chair, and as frail as he was, ripped off a great hour long set, to tremendous applause. That is the way I want to remember him.

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Disco Demolition

On July 12, 1979 an amazing event occurred. I was the “Official” photographer for a radio station in Chicago called WLUP, aka “The Loop.” It was the hottest rock and roll station in the city, anchored by my friend Steve Dahl, the morning personality, who had recently quit his job at WLS-FM when the station went to a disco format.

On the air, when he got his new job, he started ridiculing the disco lifestyle on the air, comparing the clothing and cars and dance styles with the rock and roll lifestyle that his new station was championing. He started “blowing up” disco records on the air, using sound effects. He also started making personal appearances, dressed in an army uniform, complete with helmet (based on the fact that his listeners was called the Insane Coho Lips, the Anti-Disco Army. Totally nonsensical, but funny none the less. During these appearances, he would break disco records over his head, to loud cheers.

Enter Mike Veeck, son of the legendary owner of the White Sox Bill Veeck. He was the promotions manager for his father’s team, which was not doing too well that year. So a plan was hatched to have a Disco Demolition Night between games at a nighttime double header between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox were averaging about 15 to 20 thousand fans per game, and hoped to attract another 5 or 10 thousand fans that night. The idea was that if you arrived at the game with a disco record you gained admittance for 98 cents (The station was FM98). Steve would blow up the records between games in center field.

Disco Demolition_09 Disco Demolition_03 Disco Demolition_06 Disco Demolition_10Steve and I arrived at the ballpark at about 6PM. There was nobody there!! Within the next hour about 70,000 people showed up at the stadium that held about 50,000!! The audience got to their seats and immediately order many beers!! As they drank them, they figured out that 45RPM records made great Frisbees. During the first game, outfielders were seen wearing batting helmets while they fielded their positions, fearing for their lives. When the first game ended we were led out into center field, where a big metal box filled with records was being dragged out. Steve grabbed the microphone and gave his talk about rock and roll, made fun of disco for a few minutes, and a special effects guy set off a huge explosion in the box. A Jeep then pulled out on the field and Steve was going to take a victory lap around the field. I, being the moron that I am, decided to ride on the hood of the Jeep. As the driver started his leisurely drive around the field, I balanced myself on my knees in the middle of the hood and started to take a picture. At that moment we were showered with FULL 64oz beers from the stands. This caused the driver to hit the gas to get out of there. We

went bumping across the field with me hanging on to my camera with one hand and a windshield wiper with the other.

We got out of there alive, and Steve’s reputation became worldwide. This week was an anniversary, and it was nice to see coverage of an event that was really exciting at the time.

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The new journalism, Part ?????

Just got a link this week from my friend Aaron Cohen, who reviewed the Chicago Gospel Festival  for the Chicago Tribune. The link was from the New York Observer and details a religious writer who seemed to have stolen his review word for word. The article was for The Belle Report, a  gospel blog. There is a quote form my friend Bob Marovich, who writes the Black Gospel Blog. One thing that Bob failed to mention was that it is apparent in the screen capture that she has stolen (from him) a photo that I provided to him a few years ago documenting a gospel service at the Fellowship Baptist  Church on the south side of Chicago.

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So…….she used my photo without my permission and it wasn’t even from the Gospel Fest!

Remember the 10 commandments include:

Thou shall Not Steal.

Maybe she forgot about that one.

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Anyone in my business that complains about the way we are treated should have been with me on my last Soul Food book trip.

I will try to never complain again!!!

We met a woman who participated in the lunch counter sit ins in Nashville. She was taught how to sit still and not react when someone spit in her face, blew smoke in her face, or poured water or tea over her head. Being treated like crap by a 20 year old rock star is nothing compared to that!!!!

We also went to Central high school in Little Rock, AR. And heard about the 9 students who were denied (By the National Guard) entry into the school, by direction of the Governor, in direct disrespect of Brown vs. Board of Education,  but would not take no for an answer.  The President of the United States had to federalize the Arkansas National Guard, to be able to order them to disregard the Governor and protect the 9 students when they went to school!

As the 14th amendment reads:

No state shall deny to any person within it’s jurisdiction  the equal protection of the law.

These trips are really making me think about what really matters in this world, and it is definitely not whether I get to shoot more than three songs!!!


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Hillary is a rock star

Hillary Clinton was in town last week to do an appearance to sell her new book. By all reports, she has been taking her cue from rock bands. Press people were not allowed to ask her questions (all questions were asked by Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel (her friend) and were all softball questions. All press was stationed far enough away that they could barely see her, and could not ask her anything or follow up on any of Rahm’s questions. Photographer were asked to shoot from the back of the hall (Just like with rock shows. She did a bunch of radio interviews and seemed pissed off that the hosts asked her about her presidential aspirations. Why did she go on these shows in the first place, if she didn’t want to answer questions. I guess she just wanted to get softball questions about her book.

The new photography paradigm:



One picture says it all!

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In 1978, I photographed a band called Journey at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Two years later they were the biggest band in the world!! They were made up of a couple of guys from Santana (Neal Schon and Greg Rollie) and a really bad singer named Robert Fleishman. Shortly after that they met a guy from LA named Steve Perry who had a song he had written called “Lights”. They had him rewrite the lyrics to talk about their city, San Francisco. They asked him to join the band and the rest is history. In a couple of years they were playing stadiums and arenas around the world.

Journey - August 5th, 1979 Journey - September 3rd, 1981 Journey - May 21st, 1982

That is when their manager called me and asked me to do a session with Steve Perry for a poster. He had just put out a solo album which spawned the #1 hit “Oh Sherrie.”





















I was told to shoot the three shows in Chicago, and during that time, I was to talk Steve into doing a quick photo shoot. Easier said than done! Three days later he had refused to do the shoot, always saying “Lets do it tomorrow.” I was getting paid for each day regardless, so I traveled to Wisconsin to shoot two more shows and try to get Steve to do a shoot. Finally, after sound check the second day, I walked up to him and said, Joking (I think), “Hey I am getting pretty sick of you guys. Can we do the shoot now?”

He agreed as long as he could go out in the woods backstage and I shot him without him knowing I was shooting. It worked perfectly!!

Shortly after that he quit the band. They found a Filipino singer who sounded just like him and continued on.

In 2005 the Chicago White Sox used the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” during their World Series run, and the next year the Sopranos ended their series with a black screen and the same song playing!

Recently, Steve has been spotted singing with the band “The Eels” at a few of their gigs, and word is he sounds great. What will the next chapter be?

Count me in!!!!

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Don Henley

Recently a controversy erupted involving Don Henley. Bob Lefsetz reported on this on 6/5 on his blog. Seems that Frank Ocean used the entire musical track of Hotel California and added his own lyrics. Don didn’t like that, and I don’t blame him. This is copyrighted material. Also, isn’t Frank Ocean supposed to be talented?? Can’t he write his own music????

From Lefsetz:

“I’ll make it very clear, you can’t sample without paying, which is why hip-hop is completely different these days, twenty-odd years ago seemingly every rap hit stole a lick.  But it turns out now you can’t do that. And I for one will argue we’re worse off for it. Because the beats we have today, which resulted from this enforcement of copyright law, are so much less interesting. Used to be there was some melody, a hook! Come on, wasn’t Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing,” with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, much more interesting than most of the music today?”

Then there is Okkervil River, who “covered” End of the Innocence, but put their own lyrics over the Eagle’s track. Maybe they aren’t as talented as people say they are.

So Don Henley sued to have the songs taken down. Good for him!!!

Okkervil River Responds to Don Henley: Copyright Laws Kill Art

What a bunch of morons!!!

This article is great.  Will Sheff, singer of the band, writes an article for Rolling Stone (above)

“When Henley made us take it down, I figured I’d comply because I can’t afford to get sued by Don Henley. I was advised not to talk about it in public, but when an interviewer asked me about it I couldn’t disguise my feelings and shot off at the mouth about it. I actually figured Henley hadn’t even heard the song and that someone in his employ – maybe even a computer algorithm – had done an automated search, found the song, and sent out the order. It turns out that Henley had heard it and didn’t take kindly. In an interview that went online today he complains about my song and about Frank Ocean’s “American Wedding” from his phenomenal nostalgia, ultra release, saying, “Anyone who knows anything should know you cannot take a master track of a recording and write another song over the top of it. You just can’t do that. You can call it a tribute or whatever you want to call it, but it’s against the law. That’s a problem with some of the younger generation. They don’t understand the concept of intellectual property and copyright…. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t an improvement. We were not impressed. So we simply had our legal team tell them to take it down and they got all huffy about it…. We work really, really hard on our material. We spend months writing it and years recording it. You don’t go into a museum and paint a moustache on somebody else’s painting. Nobody would think of doing that.”

I heard it,” Henley said of American Wedding. “I was not impressed. He needs to come up with his own ideas and stop stealing stuff from already established works.”

Ocean wrote on his Tumblr that Henley was “apparently intimidated by my rendition of Hotel California” and “threatened to sue if I perform it again.”

Henley admitted his lawyers were involved.

“Mr. Ocean doesn’t seem to understand US copyright law. Anyone who knows anything should know you cannot take a master track of a recording and write another song over the top of it. You just can’t do that. You can call it a tribute or whatever you want to call it, but it’s against the law. That’s a problem with some of the younger generation, they don’t understand the concept of intellectual property and copyright.”  “(Mr. Ocean) was quite arrogant about it,” Henley said. “We tried to approach him calmly to talk reason to him via his managers and his attorneys and he wouldn’t listen. So finally we threatened to bring legal action against him. He was clearly in the wrong. I wouldn’t dream of doing something like that. What kind of ego is that? I don’t understand it.”

Henley also nixed a remake of his solo hit “The End of the Innocence” by US band Okkervil River, who had planned to release it online for free.

Okkervil River singer Will Sheff told The Music they “sincerely” loved the song and said Henley was an “old-fashioned guy who doesn’t understand…it’s not like I was making money, I figure that’s all he f—ing cares about. “It’s not like I was making money off it, but he still made me take it down.” Henley said he was more concerned by the fact they altered his original lyrics. “They don’t understand the law either,” Henley said. “You can’t re-write the lyrics to somebody else’s songs and record it and put it on the internet. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t an improvement. We were not impressed. So we simply had our legal team tell them to take it down and they got all huffy about it.

As an artist, I will do anything to protect my rights and ownership to my work. If one of my subjects decides that my work belongs to her because she is the subject, and uses my photography in her book, and label them with a copyrite notice claiming the photographs as her own, I will go to the end of the earth to claim those photographs as my own. The work I create is all that I own, and is my legacy. It is also a source of income that I need to protect. Bravo to Don Henley!!!

Several days later, Larry Solters weighed in with this:

This has nothing to do with money. It’s simply about these punks having the audacity to take original, copyrighted material and CHANGE it. It’s not about them or Don making money. It’s about them not respecting the original material, treating it like it was some kind of interactive plaything. It’s about respecting the integrity of somebody else’s material – Grammy-winning material. What both Frank Ocean and Okkervil River did wasn’t merely “sampling.” In Ocean’s case, it was wholesale theft. What Okkervil River did was take the original “The End of the Innocence” and add extra (lame) verses and musical sections. That amounts to musical vandalism. They seem to think that because they aren’t “selling” their little piece of hackery, it’s O.K. to do what they did, which is beyond comprehension.


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A quest for chicken

Boy, I wish people in Chicago knew how to make chicken. They know how to get publicity with bad chicken, but not how to make juicy, fall of the bone, tasty fried chicken!

For that you have to go to Charleston, SC., where I was this week. First stop: Martha Lou’s Kitchen. Used to be a gas station. You have to go outside to get to the washrooms. Inside- 6 tables and a kitchen. A line out the door all day long. People taking orders to go because there was no room to sit. An assembly line in the back dredging chicken in flour and frying it up (and the most important part- making great sides. I had the mac and cheese, my friend Dave had the lima beans- said they were the best he ever had. Ate them all before I had a chance to steal some from him.



Next stop driving through a monsoon to Bertha’s Kitchen. Three generations of owners cooking food for a constant line of people who obviously came there every day- they were yelling out their orders before they even got close to the ordering part of the line, Possibly the second best chicken I have ever eaten (Gus’s in Memphis is the best). Almost done with Dave and my soul food project. Eating soul food across the country- might kill me but what a way to go.



Only place I have found in Chicago that makes great chicken is The Roost. The guy is from North Carolina, and he has a food truck and a restaurant. All others in Chicago are sadly lacking!!!

Quick word about Sirius-XM Radio. We drove 14 hours in the last three days- listened to XM all the way. Went between the Jimmy Buffett station (Dave is a friend of his), the Springsteen station,  60’s rock and the soul station. Every time Dave needed a little entertainment, he would put on the Hair Metal station or the Ozzy Osbourne station, and I would tell stories about every band that came up. We even listened to the Blackhawks win Game 6 driving through the Georgia night. All this makes me want to get in my car and just start driving somewhere for fun. One more road trip next week- Nashville and Cincinatti and I think we are done! It’s gonna be a great book.

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Interesting headline last week:

Walmart Files Suit Against Photographer’s Widow

Seems that a photographer photographed the Walton family before they created a giant empire. He then passed the studio on to his son, who recently passed away. The Walton family is sueing to get 6 boxes of photos back from the photographers widow. As the Professional Photographers of America wrote:

The complaint states that they (the Waltons) seek to obtain six or more boxes of photos, negatives, and proofs, alleging that over the years, Bob’s Studio retained those items “as a courtesy” to Walmart and their family (they didn’t). The complaint further states that the Waltons own intellectual property rights to the photos (they don’t). The fact is, under federal law, photographers own the copyrights to their own works.

Little explanation is provided from the Waltons about the basis of their claim. They even took a swipe at offering Huff $2,000 for all the images, although they are worth much, much more.

They continued to advise the widow:

PPA also advised Huff and her attorney of a separate suit, Natkin v. Winfrey, in which Oprah Winfrey claimed she owned the rights to photos of her created on her set. Since the photographers were hired as independent contractors and had not signed work-for-hire contracts, they owned the full copyrights for the images, and Winfrey’s argument was swiftly rejected by the court.

That sounds familiar!! At the foundation of all this is a basic problem with our business. Rich and famous people see no worth in photography before they are rich and famous. Then they want to control all images of themselves and their families! But they don’t want to pay for them. So they sue. Seems to me that the richest family in America could afford to give a poor widow a nice check, rather than put her through years of court proceedings!

UPDATE: Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove issued a statement this afternoon: 

As you can imagine, many of the photos go back many years and commemorate the history, heritage and culture of our company. We believe that some of the photos that Bob’s Studio has belong to Walmart. All we want is for the court to make it clear who rightfully owns these photographs. We tried very hard to resolve this without involving the courts. We never wanted the issue to reach this point and we’ve done everything possible to avoid this. 

What I learned in my court case is this:

There are no gray areas in copyright law. It is very simple. If the Walmart people can provide a contract, signed and dated by both parties giving them the copyright to the photographs, they win. If they can’t, they don’t!

Case closed.



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