EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Rock Photographer Jim Marshall Remembered by Baron Wolman, Neal Preston, Lisa Law and Other Colleagues
[Legendary rock photographer Jim Marshall passed away last week at 74. One of our own photographers and writers, Anna Webber, wrote this personal reminiscence about Marshall and his legacy. She contacted Marshall's fellow purveyors of iconic '60s images and got their exclusive permission to reproduce here some of their shots of Marshall. This is a rare chance to see the man behind the camera captured by some of his best colleagues.]
© Robert Knight // For Anna Webber Jim Marshall
The Water is Muddy, the Belly Is Lead, the Wolf is Howlin, the Heat is Canned. Jim Marshall, Rock and Roll Photography Legend, 74, Dies.
After getting the message about Jim Marshall's passing last Wednesday, my heart went narrow. And my hand -- surely leaked mojo. "Too close for comfort, baby," I thought. "But as always, too far away."
Jim was responsible for some of the most iconic rock n' roll photography this world has ever seen. His work can be seen in galleries internationally, and his legend, like fellow music photographer Neal Preston explains below, "truly preceded [him] -- like an R. Crumb cartoon character, drawn walking down a street with his feet and legs 10 feet in front of him."
I met Jim while I was working for Baron Wolman, most famous for his seminal photography for Rolling Stone Magazine in the late 60s through the early 70s. At the time, Jim made it abundantly clear he wasn't thrilled by me -- a 19 year-old girl with a camera who liked to take pictures of rock stars.
It was the mere thought of yet another music photographer that made him twitch, in a world where music photography is so saturated -- almost demeaned -- and where few new photographers seemed to know the difference between aperture and f-stop, or that it was a trick question.
Jim did not feel that way because he was threatened. How can anyone ever attempt to be as good as him? He'd taken all the pictures already. So, little girl, what are you gonna do? That's Jim. Jim is the guy that will inspire you, the guy so close yet so far from reach, the guy who would look at you -- a wide eyed kid -- and say, "The world doesn't need another music photographer."
©PK IMAGES // For Anna Webber (L-R) Baron Wolman, yours truly, Henry Diltz, Jim Marshall at the 40th Woodstock Anniversary at Duncan Miller Gallery, LA.
Jim Marshall's legend will not only live well beyond our lifetime. It now has the chance to take the mythical, otherworldy form perhaps only big-screen gurus like Tim Burton, David Lynch, Cameron Crowe, Tarantino, Scorsese, et al could take on. Which one, I can't say.
But if they won't, I will.
When I can see a character onscreen who pulls a gun on an encroaching photographer in a photopit at the SF Fillmore West circa 1968, or watch someone tell Johnny Cash to pose for the Warden and receive the iconic San Quentin finger shot, I'll have been delivered. I can definitely see a feature film bent on Jim Marshall's scathing, extraordinary persona, artistic lunacy, confidence and candor.
The way I see it, it's a Big Fish sort of film, where the story gathers into some mythical world, with an abrasiveness only Tarantino could conjure (with guns, mud and ammo), or a humorous reality which could only hurl headlong from the wit of Cameron Crowe (or David Lynch), or a "No Direction Home" type of documentary from Scorsese stock.
After March 24, 2010 perhaps, this film will be made.
When I thought about how to conceivably write a piece on Mr. Marshall, now as a 23 year-old full-time career music photographer (take that, Jim!) I figured it had to be a compilation of stories, anecdotes, thoughts and reels from Jim's life, from Jim's closest friends and colleagues.
I've heard stories. Dare I try to speak them? It would only be a piece fueled by rumors (of which there are countless). I contacted these greats, asked targeted questions, then realized who I was asking and wrote back: "Or, you can talk about none of that and just write what you want."
They did anyway.
I spoke with Baron Wolman, Neal Preston, Lisa Law, a few other close friends and acquaintances, and regrettably, could not track down our own, Henry Diltz. I'm including their intact responses to me on Jim, all of which can now be filed under historical memorabilia.
© Anna Webber 2009 Baron Wolman, Henry Diltz, Jim Marshall at the 40th Woodstock Anniversary at Duncan Miller Gallery, LA. © Anna Webber 2009 Jim Marshall, Baron Wolman, Henry Diltz, Lisa Law "The Four Musketeers".