The last 50 years have been a whirlwind of iconic music moments and today we continue to be inspired by memories of the performances, recordings, and lifestyles of music legends.
Yet most us weren’t actually there, or even alive when these snippets of musical history took shape. Instead we turn to stories, sounds and images to get a sense of those definitive moments. A powerful source for us at Cords for Music is the work of photographers such as Jim Marshall. Here we take a closer look at his inspirational career and striking photographs.
Marshall’s own defining moment came in 1960, when he had a chance encounter with jazzman John Coltrane in his hometown. In return for a ride, Coltrane let the young photographer use 10 rolls of film to photograph him. Soon after Marshall moved to New York and worked for record labels such as Columbia, Atlantis and ABC Paramount, later becoming house photographer at Monterey and Woodstock, and working on behalf of Life. Over the next 50 years Marshall grew close to musical greats such as Janis Joplin and Johnny Cash, who were won over by his passion and charm. He went on to capture phenomenal music moments, such as when Jimi Hendrix burnt his guitar on stage, The Rolling Stones on tour in 1972, and Cash’s recording session at Folsom Prison.
However, Marshall’s collection isn’t great just because of these iconic shots. He also worked hard to gain the trust of musicians, resulting in intimate photographs of the artists too. We love the one below of BB King, Albert King and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland laughing backstage.
Remembering Marshall, Jason Fine from Rolling Stone says, “Jim's photographs are remarkable for the ease with which they convey something deep and real about their subjects.” For Marshall these artists became his family, so whether he was shooting them making history on stage or just relaxing on a studio break, the results were powerful. It’s this that makes them so inspiring, and gives them the ability to shape our impressions of 20th Century music.
Photography by Jim Marshall.