Famed rock photographer Jim Marshall passes away
Legendary music photographer Jim Marshall was found dead in his New York City hotel room today. He was 74.
Marshall was in town to celebrate the release of a new book called Match Prints in which he collaborated with photographer Timothy White. Marshall, the man behind such iconic images as The Allman Brothers Band’s At Fillmore East album cover, Johnny Cash flipping the bird and Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival, had seen a resurgence of interest in his work over the last few years. Besides Match Prints, Marshall released three books in the last six years Proof (2004), Jim Marshall: Jazz (2005) and last fall’s Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall.
On a personal note, I got to work and meet with Jim over the years. Not as much as some of the other music magazines (Rolling Stone’s Jason Fine has a nice remembrance here), but enough to get a very good sense of the man. Most recently, I worked with him on our April/May 2009 issue which celebrated The Allman Brothers Band 40th anniversary. For that cover, we used an outtake from his famed At Fillmore East shoot. This one was in color and had the members all looking rather serious, giving it a much different tone than the other which is fraught with laughter and spontaneity. Jim was happy to see it brought to life again.
Any time I dealt with his photography, it was always with him. No agent, no assistant, just Jim. It would typically be early West Coast time and the television was always on in the background. At first I couldn’t believe I was dealing with Jim Marshall so directly. But then, as time wore on, it became clear that’s just who he was. It didn’t matter that we were a little magazine compared to one like Rolling Stone or that he had forgotten what we’d talk about the previous week. He liked gruffly talking to you. He also, I should note, liked gruffly thanking you.
I will always remember opening the packages that he sent. It’s quite rare in these digital days for a photographer to send actual prints to be scanned and used. But that’s the way Jim typically did it. And every time I took them out of the package, I held each one gently in my hands as if it were some ancient, fragile document. My interior dialogue was pretty basic: I’m holding an original Jim Marshall print in my hands. Someone pinch me.
There will be a gathering tonight in New York City at the John Varvatos store at the corner of Spring Street and Greene Street in SoHo at 7pm.
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