Showing posts with label James Williamson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Williamson. Show all posts

2.07.2014

LA 1973 IGGY AND THE STOOGES: ROCK PHOTOGRAPHER HEATHER HARRIS:



How a born and bred Los Angeles person like yours truly came to appreciate Detroit/Ann Arbor/Michigan music from afar at a relatively early age... Rock and Beatles/Stones had saved my sanity from a toxic family, and I liked my music loud and fast. While I preferred Lennon's hard-edged rocker covers my chums gravitated to their beloved McCartney ballads and worshiped the latest faux-Joni. Egad, why?


Experts contend that in popular musical tastes, females prefer emphasis on great lyrics and males fixate on insistent beat or groove. Balderdash. If you don't remember the power and musicality of a song first, how can you later dissect what was sung? With this in mind, I tried to infiltrate any club that didn't catch my underaged ass and began photographing that to which I could get access in 1967. I was open to anything good, preferably great. With greatness in mind, a lot of focus came upon The Stooges circa 1970.


I was fortunate early on to encounter the in-person musical orbit of John Mendelsohn, a music writer for Creem Magazine and Rolling Stone who mattered in the late 1960s and 70s. And he didn't just like but loved the Stooges as kindred subversives. He trumpeted same to anyone who'd read or listen, particularly like-minded, quirky new friends such as visiting rookie musician David Bowie on the latter's first USA trip.

 
Corroboration of Mendelsohn introducing Bowie and consequently, for better and worse, his management MainMan to the Stooges' music can be found on page 148 of Paul Trynka's first edition of his Iggy Pop bio "Open Up and Bleed.") Here in L.A. as with most of the world in the pre-internet Pleistocene, absolutely no one beyond Midwestern zip codes had any prior Stooge exposure prior to Mendelsohn's lauding thereof.
 

Hence the importance of Mendelsohn's 1970 Entertainment World feature, one of the first if not the first nation-wide cover stories on The Stooges in a mainstream multi-arts magazine, not just a regional, music-based one. Their centerpiece article by Mendelsohn featured lots more natural stage light, live performance photos which took great skill then (and a close, personal relationship with a pro lab that would push film beyond recommended specs) by Kurt Ingham (AKA singer Mr. Twister) (and future Mr. Fastfilm.)
 

Unfortunately I hadn't met the great arbiter until after the first Stooges gigs in California mid-1970, so my first opportunity to photograph them became the Whisky A Gogo, Hollywood CA in 1973. At the only freebie possible for this impecunious college student/photojournalist, my twenty-two minutes of photographing an appallingly short second set of two songs ("She Creatures Of The Hollywood Hills" and "Open Up And Bleed") yielded all my vintage Stooges' shots since seen over the years in domestic and international periodicals both print and online. They were everything heretofore touted, wild yet precise musicians, wasted, cute and dangerous. The audience initially was scared of them: I thought it was hilarious. At the time, 1973, I could only sell a single image. The world had yet to catch up.


As a Fine Art major at UCLA, I was used to true innovators in my art history lessons being ignored by their contemporaries. Outliers are outsiders, so the slander and malediction of The Stooges meant zero to me. At least in this instance forty plus years later, its audience finally caught up with the onetime maligned Iggy and The Stooges, inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, acknowledging what punks everywhere had known in those intervening decades: they fucking ROCKED. I have been sufficiently fortunate to photograph Iggy and The Stooges in about a half dozen venues, nowadays always to huge, out-of-control-enthusiastic audiences. See LINK to find them all.

 Scott Thurston, James Williamson and Heather Harris

Iggy and The Stooges were my gateway drug to all that Detroit/Ann Arbor/Michigan music had to offer: now let's hear it for The Ruiners and Turn To Crime! -Heather Harris 2014

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