May 312007

In July of 2006, I had a near-religious experience. I had the chance to visit an exhibit of one of my favorite photographers of all time; Barrie Wentzell. Barrie was the principal photographer for one of the UK’s most established music magazines between 1965 and 1975 — The Melody Maker. He’s shot everyone from Basie to Barrett, from The Kinks to King, to Lennon and Ono, Ross and Little Richard. To me, these are photos and portraits that take on a personal edge, mood and character of their own.

When I walked past all of the photos in the gallery that I’d only previously seen in books and on the web all of these years, and flipped through his entire catalog of available prints in the hushed silence; I was in awe past anything that I’ve ever felt. These pictures and the stories that I felt must have been behind them were moving and thrilling to get up close to. Having them all in one room at once was completely overwhelming – like being alone with ten of your favorite musicians and having them all to yourself. A friend who was curating the exhibit was kind enough to get Barrie to write me a note on one of his posters for the exhibit (I look over at it now on my wall).

Pete Townshend and Towser (C) Barrie Wentzell

I’m pretty excited to be able to do an interview with someone who’s work is magical and inspiring to me. I’m not sure which photo is your favorite, or if you even have one, but I thought I would put it out to the Hall to see if anyone had any good questions that they’d like to ask Barrie as well when I get the chance to finally speak with him in the coming weeks. I look forward to your responses!


  5 Responses to “Coming Soon: Interview with Barrie Wentzell”

  1. meanstom

    I think I saved this link from a post on the old list. Almost all of these rock photos speak to me:

  2. This is your life, TMJ! Neat photos:)

  3. Mr. Moderator

    I remember that TMJ page too!

    I’m not typically a photo/visual guy, but I do like the role images play in rock. I’ve spent my share of time staring at rock photos, album covers, and some videos. I need to remember to scan my favorite, bizzare photo from an old Rolling Stone History of Rock book, a shot from the disco era that still makes me question life even thinking of it.

    The Beatles not only had great photographers but were usually photogenic. I’ve shared before a trip during which a friend and I spent hours staring at “telling” Beatles photos, with our Beatles books and album covers spread around the room. Outtake shots from the “Hey Jude” album cover shot are among my favorite Beatles pictures ever.

    The Stones, post Brian Jones and post-Keith Richards’ great-looking Chickenfrank-like era, fell off greatly in their degree of photogeneity, if that’s a word.

    I prefer Dylan’s Look in video to his still photographs. His changing expressions and varieties of expressing disdain and superiority are never captured in even his best still shots.

    The Who takes really bad photos, although that shot with Townshend was good. Daltry and Entwistle bring them down bigtime.

    The Clash – now those guys knew how to get their picture taken! Of course, you know I’m as much a Clash fanboy as I am a Beatels fanboy.

    The Kinks only had a brief period of looking good in photos, not coincidentally their best period of music making.

    The Back Office and I were discussing last week a particular shot of Debbie Harry in a military shirt. Yowzah! Was that ever a good rock image.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Oh, and as for questions for Barrie… Not being very knowledgeable about photography and photographers (and hating getting my picture taken), here’s what I’d like to know:

    Was there ever a particularly bad era for rock photography? For instance, was it harder to get good shots in the slovenly ’70s?

    Which artist did you feel you did the most with to turn a naturally unphotogenic/uncomfortable person into a photogenic one?

    Is there a shot that you missed that still haunts you?

  5. Wow, those are all excellent questions Mr. Mod – thanks for tuning in to your inner photographer for me, and for sharing thoughts on your favourite shots/photographed musicians!

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