This past Friday, March 11th The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles unveiled a new exhibit of preeminent Rock photographer Jim Marshall’s work. “Jim Marshall’s 1967” follows his year long shooting schedule in San Francisco during the Summer Of Love as we celebrate its 50th anniversary. These are the photos that informed the world of hippie culture, the exploding music scene in the Bay Area and has since shaped the mythology handed down to each new generation of what the entire movement looked like.
Over 32,000 photos on 9,000 contact sheets were cut down to 75 telling images. Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar ablaze at Monterey Pop, Jefferson Airplane’s album cover shoot, Jerry Garcia in the park, Dennis Hopper in the crowd, anti-war protesters, flower children dancing and Hells Angels roaming the streets…it’s more a first person virtual tour in time than a voyeuristic collection of snapshots.
Marshall cut his teeth in NY but moved to San Fran to be part of what he knew would be historic. Next to a photographer’s eye, one’s instinct to be in the right place, position and time is the most important tool. Known for leaving the house with six cameras around his neck, he was granted access where no others were allowed thanks to artists and promoters holding him in close company, despite his great reputation for being quite ornery and crass. With pre-photoshop perfection, he did it all naturally; no cropping, no editing tricks (he hated the dark room) and mostly on a Rangefinder Leica camera (in which you look through a view window rather than the lens) that he taught himself to use. His uncanny natural eye and technic shine through on any given photo within the exhibit.
“I’ve always liked cars guns and cameras,” he once said. “Cars and guns have got me in trouble. Cameras haven’t.” A retrospect on his career would be too vast. This 1967 chapter offers insight for us to relive an often romanticized era and an opportunity to see more of what particularly fascinated this artist beyond his greatest hits.
To paraphrase another writer, it’s like Jim Marshall was on the shoulders of God when Rock & Roll was born.
Jim Marshall’s 1967 will be at the Los Angeles Grammy Museum through May 14, 2017.
Co-curated by The San Francisco Arts Commission and Jim Marshall Photography LLC.
Dominic Painter is a writer and DJ based in Los Angeles, CA
Exhibit photo credit: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com