Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Oct 30th 2009 1:30PM by David Chiu
Those photographs and many others form the basis of the exhibit 'Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present,' which opens today at New York's Brooklyn Museum. Calling itself the first major museum show on rock photography, 'Who Shot Rock & Roll' collects 175 images by 105 photographers and spans the genre's entire history. Among the artists featured are Chuck Berry, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Joy Division, Fugazi and Jay-Z.While there are some images that rock fans will immediately recognize, like Astrid Kirchherr's photo of the Beatles during their Hamburg days, there are others that are perhaps not widely known. Some of those include Oasis and Johnny Marr together in a studio in 2002 and Madonna at the Danceteria in 1983.
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Bob Gruen, the renowned photographer best known for his photo of John Lennon wearing his 'New York City' T-shirt, has a photograph in the exhibit of the members of Kiss wearing suits in 1974. It was used as the cover for the band's 1975 album 'Dressed to Kill.' "We were doing a photo comic novella for CREEM magazine," he tells Spinner. "Kiss finds out that instead of John Denver, [there's gonna be] a John Cleveland concert and they need to save the world with rock 'n' roll. At the beginning of the comic, they dress up as average workers going to work. This is their secret identity until they run into a phone both, pull off their suits and run out in their Kiss outfits."
Another photo in the exhibit features Patti Smith standing outside on New York City's Bowery in 1976. Photographer Godlis, who took the image, says, "People would just go out into the street [at punk club CBGB] in between sets because it was so crowded inside. I tapped her on the shoulder as she was standing. It was a quarter-second exposure and I was hoping I didn't shake the camera."
One of the more recent images in 'Who Shot Rock & Roll' depicts a crowd outside of Harlem's Apollo Theater on the day Michael Jackson died. "It was electric," recalls Kwame Brathwaite, who took the photograph, about the mood at the time. "Automatically people from all over New York came out to the Apollo Theater. Although people were sad, it was a celebration of his life. [They had] impersonators like the one in this shot, and people with boom boxes playing their music around."
In addition to the photographs, there are TV screens playing music videos of Bjork, U2 and David Bowie. There is also a slideshow featuring the works of Henry Diltz, who has photographed many artists such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Doors and Tina Turner.
Gruen remembers a time when rock music was once considered juvenile delinquency and a fad. In his words, "It is the mainstream culture ... and part of the everyday life of the whole world." Asked what he thought of his work being featured in the museum, Gruen says, "It's kind of mind-blowing to be in these hallowed halls."
'Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present' is currently on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and will run through Jan. 31, 2010. For information, visit www.brooklynmuseum.org.