A huge decade for the music industry, the 1960s saw the birth of Woodstock and the American folk revival. It was the time of musicians like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, and Elvis.
And the photographs captured of these icons have become as ingrained in our cultural memory as the albums that fill our record collections. These photographers could capture these artists in their element with an incredible human eye, a truly unique once in a lifetime moment.
Jim Marshall, who Annie Leibovitz called “The Rock ‘n ‘Roll photographer”, asked Johnny Cash to express his thoughts and feelings on the conditions at San Quentin Prison in 1969. They say an image is worth a thousand words.
Jim was again in the right place at the right time when Jimi Hendrix stunned the audience by setting his guitar on fire and throwing the bits to his fans during his performance at The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Regarding this shot Jim Marshall has said, “I was right up close to him. I don’t know if it was planned but a few minutes before the end he says to me, “You got plenty of film left?” I said I did and he just told me to get ready, he didn’t say shit but I was ready and he set fire to the f**king guitar. The fans went wild it was f**king incredible.”
This dynamic photograph taken by the legend Pennie Smith became the cover of the iconic “London Calling” by The Clash. That famous moment when Simonon destroyed his bass in the middle of the show in New York in 1979, because of his frustration with the lack of interaction with the crowd, due to the venue’s fixed seats.
Who could go past the legendary photograph of Iggy Pop crowd surfing during a Stooges concert at Crosley Field, Cincinnati, on 23 June 1970, taken by the amazing Tom Copi.
This picture was named one of the best rock photos of 1970 by Rolling Stone Magazine. As you can see, this picture captures the essence of life in the 70s, when rock stars were gods and fans were the congregation.
Were all of these photographers just in the right place at the right time? Maybe they were psychic and waited for the exact moment to snap. Whatever they were doing, they knew that these moments were important and would last the test of time. Praise be to the gods of rock!