Archive for March, 2010
What makes a rock and roll musician iconic? Is it their catalog of music? Their live performances? What they say in interviews? Or is it the way they are portrayed in photographs? I’m going to go with all of the above but I think the fourth answer could be the most important. Since most of us have never and will never meet our favorite musicians we have to rely on other peoples’ photographs to give us some kind of perception of what these people are like. Although what we are really getting is the photographer’s viewpoint through their lense, at least it’s something.
Famous rock and roll photographer Jim Marshall died last night at the age of 74. We have lost someone whose photos of music icons like Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix are so renowned that you’ve probably seen them before and didn’t know they were taken by Marshall. Whether they were made into posters seen in college houses (i.e. the black and white image of Cash giving the camera his middle finger) or used in blogs (i.e. the black and white of Hendrix I used on March 16) his photos are everywhere. And for good reason. He was brilliant.
I think one of the reasons I admire Marshall so much, other than his amazing images, is that he reminds me of my Father. My parents’ house in Miami is decorated with decade’s worth of photos my Dad took of everyone including Elton John, Michael Jackson (one from the 70s when he was black and one from the 90s when he was white), Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, John Denver, Willie Nelson and many more. His photos are great and it’s very cool to be able to say that my parents have seen and/or met these music legends.
When I saw Billy Joel and Elton John with my best friend Carly I was adamant about taking the best possible photos I could of the two piano men. I figured it was the only time I would ever have the chance to see them and that I had better get some good photos to give to my parents and to Carly. We recently found out that Joel and John cancelled the rest of their tour. I guess it will be awhile before anyone is taking their photo again.
Although Marshall is gone and both the world of photography and the world of rock and roll have suffered an enormous loss his images aren’t going anywhere and neither is his legacy. There will never be another Jim Marshall but hopefully he will continue to inspire photographers to do great things and take unforgettable photographs.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog post since I saw the rehearsal footage in Michael Jackson’s This Is It movie. The blonde, badass guitarist he hired blew me away so I did some research. Turns out her name is Orianthi; a 24-year-old from Australia who picked up the electric guitar at age 11. Her influences are guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Cream and Santana, along with some of my favorite 80s metal bands including Whitesnake, Van Halen and Def Leppard. I knew I liked this girl!
In the last few years Orianthi has performed onstage with Carrie Underwood at the 2009 Grammy Awards, opened for Steve Vai, and traded solos with Carlos Santana. After seeing her perform with Underwood, MJ called Orianthi with an offer for her to be his guitarist for his dates at the O2 Arena in London.
Although the tour never happened, This Is It is worth watching just to see this girl shred her guitar. When she played Eddie Van Halen’s solo for “Beat It” my jaw hit the ground. I knew we hadn’t seen the last of her.
At the end of 2009, Orianthi released her debut album called Believe on which she writes, sings and leads her band all by herself. If you happen to catch her video you might mistake her for Avril Lavigne when she sings but then all of the sudden you hear her play guitar and you would swear it was Slash. Seriously. And I don’t make Slash comparisons lightly. So don’t adjust your televisions or radios; Avril Lavigne did not learn how to play guitar that well and no, Slash isn’t guest guitaring on a new pop single. It’s just that we’re seeing the best new female guitarist of our generation.
Have you see the new video for the song “Telephone” featuring Lady Gaga and Beyonce? Wow! In an age where music videos are all but an afterthought, two of current music’s most dynamic women get together and turn out one of the most exciting videos I’ve seen in very long time.
A few observations:
-Those are some badass convicts!
-Was that jail sequence a deleted scene from Chicago?
-Running almost 10 minutes long it’s like a combination of Madonna’s 80s flick Who’s That Girl, Thelma and Louise and Kill Bill.
-In fact, was that Beyonce bailing Gaga out of jail and driving off in the P***y Wagon from Kill Bill???
-Did Gaga really just debut a pair of sunglasses made entirely of cigarettes? Your move, Elton John!
-This video is full of black leather, skulls and makeup that would make Motley Crue blush.
-Beyonce saying the word “motherf*****” like she means it? Never thought I’d see the day!
-The costumes, colors and cleavage are out of control!
-All of the colorful subtitles make me feel like I’m watching VH-1’s Pop-Up Video.
-The video ends with “To be continued…” and I’ve never been so excited for a sequel!