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Photography and –rock since Elvis


Rock history, whether in pictures or in words, starts with Elvis Presley. Here, in this magnificent photographic album, the King quite naturally launches the festivities with invited guests and candidates to Rock’s pantheon. As the author, Ute Eskildsen, emphasized in his introduction, music and sound are inextricably linked, Rock is to dress up to. And the message, about different “rock attitudes”, is the photographer.

It can be said that a generation of photographers was born at the same time as rock. At times, these beginners, rockers’ friends, largely contributed to their success, to this planetary explosion. Some of the photographers who signed the pictures in this book have since become great names in fashion, news, and studio portraits, but none has broken ties with the rock and roll love of their youth. For instance Annie Liebowitz who began her career at Rolling Stone; Albert Watson who worked on Mick Jagger in addition to landscapes and animals. The same for Alfred Wertheimer who, according to the teachings of the Life school of photojournalism, “told” the story in pictures of the young Presley on tour. Or Stephen Shore who, at 17, was a regular at Andy Warhol’s The Factory, taking pictures of the house band, the Velvet Underground, and author of a major work on American landscapes. A special mention goes to Jerry Schatzberg who staged the Stones as transvestites in a delirious group picture. He later became the filmmaker we all know.

Others, definitively influenced by this music, will forever
remain rock photographers. Bob Gruen, a friend of John Lennon and “capturer” of the New York rock scene (present in this book with Iggy Pop), or the British Mick Rock (the photographer of the young and “decadent”, David Bowie). Lynn Goldsmith and her 40 years of backstage pictures, Denis O’Regan, the author of the infamous album cover picture of David Bowie in a yellow suit, a thin and elegant silhouette before a tide of people, and Art Kane (Mothers of Invention), Steve Schapiro (Frank Zappa, etc).

It is impossible to mention all of the photographers, musicians, or groups that they immortalized. In addition to this iconographic work, there is a very good analysis of the phenomenon and its resilience, its relationship to the image and a complete and detailed list of the photographers and musicians in this book. Without forgetting the timetable detailing the history of Rock since Elvis. Precious.
Paul Alessandrini

Editions Steidl and partners
340 pages
280 illustrations
30 euros

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