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Jim Marshall
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New York City
Known as “the God of rock photography,” Jim Marshall is famous for his photographs of rock & roll stars and jazz greats taken during the 1960s and 1970s, the first part of a long photographic career. James Joseph Marshall was born in Chicago in 1936. His family moved to San Francisco’s Fillmore district when he was two. He began taking photos as a child with a Kodak Brownie camera, and in high school photographed Beat Generation musicians and artists. After military service in the Air Force he pursued photography while working for an insurance company as a clerk. While taking photos at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop, the musician John Coltrane (1926-1967) asked him for directions to a club in Berkeley. Marshall offered to take Coltrane to the club if he would let Marshall photograph him, which led to a portrait session at music critic’s Ralph J. Gleason’s (1917-1975) house. His photos of Coltrane paved the way for work in New York City from 1962 to 1964, photographing artists for Columbia, ABC Paramount and Atlantic records, including Ray Charles and Bob Dylan, and the jazz artist Thelonious Monk for the Saturday Evening Post magazine. A well-known photo from 1963 shows Dylan rolling a car tire down a New York City street. After taking photos at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, Marshall moved back to San Francisco. He was the only photographer allowed backstage during the Beatles 1966 concert at Candlestick Park. Other iconic photos include Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) burning his guitar at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, Johnny Cash’s (1932-2003) concert at Folsom Prison in 1968, Cash waiving his middle finger during his concert in San Quentin Prison in 1969, and Janis Joplin (1943-1970) with a bottle of Southern Comfort whiskey. Marshall’s photos documented San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love. His works were used by artists for four posters advertising San Francisco rock concerts sponsored by Bill Graham (1931-1991) in 1967 and 1968, most notably photos of Joplin and Aretha Franklin (b. 1942). His photos from the Sixties include shots of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison (1943-1971), Carlos Santana (b. 1947) and Grace Slick (b. 1939) and a double portrait of Joplin and Slick. Marshall was one of the principal photographers for the 1969 Woodstock Festival and documented the Rolling Stones 1972 American tour for Life Magazine. He shot photos for Rolling Stone magazine and is credited with some 500 music album covers. Other subjects included jazz stars Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) and Carmen McRea (1922-1994) and folk artists Joan Baez (b. 1941) and Mimi Farina (1945-2001). Marshall partied along with the rock stars he photographed, and by the end of the 1970s succumbed to cocaine addiction. He recovered in the late 1980s and resumed his career, photographing a variety of rock bands, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He published five books of his photographs, his work was shown solo and group shows in art galleries in New York and San Francisco and in the 2009 exhibition “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present” at the Brooklyn Museum. Marshall was in New York City in 2010 to celebrate the opening of the exhibition “Match Prints,” showing his work along with that of his friend celebrity photographer Timothy White, when he died in his sleep at a hotel. (TNB 3/2017) Selected bibliography: Buckland, Gail. Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present. Exhibition catalog. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.