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!!

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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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B.B. King

In 1976, I was just getting started in the business and I had made a deal with the Ivanhoe Theater in Chicago to gain access to all of their shows. A short time later, I was reading the schedule and saw the name B.B. King. Being a blues fan for years, that was a must see show. I was mesmerized by his tone, his singing and most of all by his amazing stage presence. Throughout all of my years in the business I don’t think I have ever seen someone have that much fun on stage. His smile was ear to ear throughout the show. I was hooked!!

B.B. King at the Sunset Marquis Hotel on April 2, 1991 in Los Angeles, Ca.

Many years later, Guitar World Magazine asked me to go to Cleveland to photograph the “King Brothers”- BB and Albert King. I hung out with them for about an hour, took some great pictures and went home a happy and fulfilled man!

Albert King and B.B. King on February 20, 1991 in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

Little did I know that two months later, in April of 1991, I would be asked to travel to a press event in Los Angeles to kick off the Benson and Hedges Blues Tour. When I got there I was told that after the press conference, I would be given an hour in private with BB King, John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon. Now that is the motherload. Three older gentlemen, dressed in black with hats and shades, talking for an hour in between photographs about their sex lives- their RECENT sex lives! It gave me hope for my future!

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Whenever I showed anyone those pictures, I would always say- Only one of them is still alive.

Now they are all gone, and the blues world will probably never see anyone like those guys again.

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Back to the 1960′s!!!

There is a long history of great music originating in the Chicago area. Most of it , for years was taken for granted. When I was growing up here there were several bands playing around Chicago who made a great national impact on the music scene, but never really got their due.

The Buckinghams. In the late 1960’s Cash Box Magazine named them The Most Promising Vocal Group in America. They recoded many singles  in that era, including “Kind of a Drag,” “Don’t You Care,” “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,.” During that period, they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Show,” “The Jerry Lewis Show,” “The Joey Bishop Show,” and “American Bandstand.” In 1996 and 1997 they had  5 Top 20 singles, including a #1.

The Cryan’ Shames. From  1966 to 1968, they had 6 Top 100 singles and toured the world, showcasing their folk rock sound

The Shadows of Night. They were the house band at the Celler, a suburban club in 1965, drawing 500 people every Saturday and Sunday. They combined British blues with American blues, and in 1965 they re3corded a song called “Gloria” Originally done by Van Morrison and Them. The lyrics were king of racy, and WLS radio banned  Van Morrison’s song, so the Shadows recorded it with slightly changed lyrics. The song got massive regional airplay and reached #10 on the national charts

The Ides of March. Chicago’s first horn band, the Ides released the single “Vehicle” in 1970 and it became the fastest selling single in Warner Bros. history. It can still be heard today in Chevy commercials!! When the band went on hiatus, Jim Peterik founded a band called Survivor and in 1982, wrote a song for the soundtrack of a Sly Stallone film called Rocky. The song was called “Eye Of The Tiger.” Over the years, the song has sold over 9 million copies, making it one of the best selling singles of all time.

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Scott May of the Ides Of March with Marty Grebb

Marty Grebb is a keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist, and is also a producer and arranger.. He became a session musician and worked with musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, John Lennon, Etta James, Vince Gill, Bernie Taupin, Olivia Newton-John, Taj Mahal, Roseanne Cash, the Band, Chicago and BB King,. He was in the Buckinghams from 1967 to 1970. Marty has cancer, and is fighting it valiantly.

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The Buckinghams

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The Cryan’ Shames

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Jim Peterik of The Ides Of March and Survivor

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Jimy Sohns of the Shadows of Night and Dennis Tufano of ther Buckinghams

It is expensive, so his friends threw a benefit last Thursday night. All of the above bands played their greatest hits, mixing and matching players throughout the night. Marty played keyboards and saxophone in many of the bands. An amazing night of music. I was glad to be there among so many caring and talented musicians, and hear the music of my youth still sounding as good as it did 40 years ago.

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My exhibit

My exhibit at the Ed Paschke Arts Center opened last Friday here in Chicago. Ed was my friend, and his son Marc remains my friend to this day. Ed was an amazing painter, who liked two things (besides painting). They were the Chicago Bulls and blues music. Many conversations ensued about these two subjects!!

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Marc is more of a metal guy (he works for Kirk Hammett of Metallica) but he appreciates many types of music. Lionel and Vesna, the two people who built and run the gallery are great people who appreciate and support the arts in Chicago.

Judas Priest at the Rosemont Horizon on May 18th, 1984 in Rosemont, Illinois.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is pretty breathtaking to have my photographs displayed in a gallery setting alongside a major collection of Ed’s work. As they say in the movie- “I’m not worthy”

Opening night was a tremendous success and the show will run until mid June.

Seven days a week. 10AM-7PM.

https://www.facebook.com/edpaschkeartcenter

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My trip to Poland

Halfway around the world last week in beautiful central Poland. I was visiting my friends who publish a blues magazine there. The trip started with a bar-b-que in their back yard. If you like Polish sausage, this is the motherland!!! A lot of Polish blues photographers all taking pictures of each other!!

The next day my friends Ewa and Zosia took me into town to sight see and eat at their favorite Burger restaurant (I took them to Kumas the last time they were in Chicago) So the big comparison ensued!! Totally different but equally good!! And, I have to say, their fries were better!

The next day, we went to a coal mine. 8 people in an elevator, and down 1000 feet under the earth’s surface. I will never complain about my job again!! We came across a bird cage and were told that when the birds died, it was time to get out, as there was too much methane in the air! Now I will have to go back to the Police album that has “Canary in a Coal Mine” on it!

Coal Mine_011At the end came the weirdest site I have seen in a long time. We rounded the corner and walked into a beautiful, state of the art concert venue, 1000 feet under ground! They know how to party there!!

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That night we went to a concert. One of the bands was called the Krakow Street Band, a group of 9 guys who play American Blues songs on the street. They were great- great musicians having the time of their lives playing great music.

The next morning we were all having breakfast in a restaurant in my hotel and I heard music. We walked outside and there was the Krakow Street Band playing on the street. They were staying in the same hotel, got up in the morning and decided to do a gig!

Krakow Street Band_030That night we all went to the big concert celebrating the 15th anniversary of the magazine. A lot of great music by people I am going to have to look up when I am not jet-lagged, and some great speeches, which I did not understand a word of! I got on stage and received an award for Picture of the Year, which I will proudly hang on my wall as soon as I buy a frame for it! A good time was had by all, and I have a finer appreciation of the affect American Music has on people all over the world.

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Lisa Fischer

In this business, I have met some amazing people- talented to a high degree, and some of them actually great people. Very seldom both of them in the same package.

Last night I spent the evening with one of the latter.

Lisa Fischer at Thalia Hall on April 18th, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.In 1989, I went out on my first Rolling Stones tour. The second day, Lisa Fisher, the  Stones backup singer, came up to me backstage and introduced herself to me, and we soon became great friends. She is one of the greatest singers that I have ever heard. During a long career, she has sung with Luther Vandross, the Stones, Sting, and even Nine Inch Nails. Along the way she won a Grammy in 1992 for Best Soul-R&B song (she shared it with Patti Labelle). Every tour I go on with them, one of the highlights is reconnecting with Lisa.

Lisa Fischer at Thalia Hall on April 18th, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.Last night, she was in town playing a show with her band. I arranged for passes and went down to the show. When she walked out on stage and started singing, the audience erupted into spontaneous applause that continued for the entire show. Her singing is a combination of jazz influences and rock and roll dynamics. She covered a bunch of Stones songs, but remade them in her style. She even covered Led Zeppelin.

Lisa Fischer at Thalia Hall on April 18th, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.After the show, I waited outside the backstage door with about 20 other people. When she came out, she came over, hugged me and we talked for about 5 minutes, I said my goodbyes, and left knowing that I had just seen and heard a monster talent and one of the nicest people in the music business.

Lisa Fischer at Thalia Hall on April 18th, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

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More talk about cameras in phones

Walking down the street downtown yesterday, I watched a woman trying to take a picture with her iPhone. She was concentrating so hard she walked right into a light pole! Very entertaining.

I guess everything on earth has to be documented these days. This week’s Time Magazine has a cover story on the murder of an unarmed man by a police officer in North Charleston, SC. The officer would have gone on his merry way, nobody ever knowing what happened, except for the fact that someone was on the other side of the fence, shooting video of all of the event with his cell phone..

Commentary from Errol Morris, Academy Award documentarian and director of The Thin Blue Line:

“Photography doesn’t offer proof of anything. It merely supplies additional evidence, which otherwise might not be available. The evidence here is crucial, as it is in conflict with the officer’s own story. We wouldn’t know much without the video. And we wouldn’t have the video save for the courageous observers with a cell phone who possibly risked their lives in filming the incident.”

Late last night I was watching the local news about tornadoes that touched down and wiped out two towns in northwest Illinois. Most of the coverage was from cell phone video shot by people that stood in the path of the storms to capture images. One amazing piece of video was taken by a college student out the passenger side window of the car he was in after his father picked him up from school and was driving him home. As they traveled parallel to a category 4, half mile wide tornado, they reached a fork in the road. One route would have taken then away from the storm, the other route directly toward it. Guess which one they took!!!

A short time later, they thought better of it and turned onto a one way street (the wrong way) to escape. Pretty amazing that the father put his son in danger- just to get a video to give to a television station!

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Muddy Waters

Yesterday would have been Muddy Waters 100th Birthday. Or 102nd, depending on who you talk to! He was one of the reasons that I got into the music business. I was always a blues fan, and wanted to be around that type of energy when I was younger (still do). Shortly after starting my photography career (as a sports photographer) I met Muddy’s manager (I talked about his passing a few weeks ago) and he invited me out to a show. He brought me backstage to meet Muddy, who was very gracious. I started photographing him whenever he played in Chicago. He was the first “Superstar” that I had a working relationship with, which lasted until his passing in 1983. He was always really welcoming, and was a great subject. He had a kind of Buddha like appearance, and a great smile. They don’t make them like that any more!!Muddy

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Another great show

Last week I wrote about two really good bands made up of 20 something musicians. This week I am going to write about two performers who are 63 and  78 years old.

When I was a teenager, my mother made me listen to only folk music. The first time she took me to a concert, it was to see Judy Collins and Tom Paxton. While listening to a radio show called the Midnight Special in 1966, I heard a singer singing about something that didn’t exist much in America- an interracial relationship. Her name was Janis Ian, who was 15 at the time the record came out.

Tom and Janis__0004I met her a few years ago, and read her autobiography. It turned out that the station I was listening to her on was one of only three that played her record. She went out on tour and got booed off the stage whenever she played the song, called “Society’s Child.”

So, about a month ago, Janis emailed me and asked me to photograph a show she was doing in Chicago with Tom Paxton. Last Sunday I met them at sound check, did a quick session with the two of them, and shot one of the greatest shows I have heard in a long time. There was no show biz- just a vase of flowers on a table at the back of the stage (with a spotlight on it), and two legendary performers singing most their hits, along with some new songs. Society’s Child was especially poignant.

Tom and Janis__0153Tom and Janis__0157Just goes to show that you don’t need lots of lights and staging to captivate an audience- just great songs and amazing performers.

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Two Shows

My friends at Shure introduced me to two new bands this month. Both of them give me some hope for the future of music. They are booth young, with energetic front people, very good musicians with some very catchy songs.

Mister Wives, a young band from Brooklyn, are fronted by a young woman named Mandy Lee, put on an extremely high energy show, with a lot of movement and audience interaction. The show was sold out, and the audience knew the words to most of their songs, They have a massive social media presence, and it shows with fans lining up all afternoon to get a spot at the front of the stage.

MisterWives at Lincoln Hall on March 3, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

Magic Man is a five piece band from Boston. Lead singer Alex Caplow is a monster performer, who gladly slaps hands with audience members , some of whom have waited outside since early afternoon. The band is very proud of the c=fact that the “Fourth wall” has been broken down when they go outside during the day to  hang with people in line. Once again, the audience knew the words to every song, and sang along on every one. Keyboardist Justine Bowe and guitarist Sam Lee are great players, and the songs are definitely hit material.

Magic Man__0101Before the show I was talking to a couple that had traveled 100 miles to see the band. I felt guilty only driving 2 miles!!

All in all, some great new music

 

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