Legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll Photos

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Photo: Jim Marshall

I like this Jim Marshall quote: “I worked hard but I never really considered it work. I always enjoyed myself and only took an assignment if I had complete control and access. My reputation was such that managers didn’t f*ck with me. I had the trust of the artist. I would work with them and they knew I wouldn’t f*ck around or do anything they didn’t like.” What a badass. Click through the tabs above to see some photos from this legendary photographer.

Marshall passed on in 2010, but his work lives on: a spectacular collection of his photos opens today at New York’s Steven Kasher Gallery. His pictures demonstrate intimate access with a roster of game-changing artists ranging from jazz greats like Miles Davis, to folk legends like Bob Dylan and larger than life rock ‘n’ roll stars such as Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

The guy owned his art with a fierceness that we can all aspire to. Extreme? Perhaps. But it’s that attitude that won the trust of his subjects and made these incredible images possible. Most of these shots are not staged. Trust is the most valuable currency when working with your subjects – especially fellow artists. I have experienced this in my own work with my Songs For Eating and Drinking project. No crowd, no managers, just artists at a table sharing good food and music.

It’s only rock’n’roll – but I like it.

(via Flavorwire)

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“I worked hard but I never really considered it work. I always enjoyed myself and only took an assignment if I had complete control and access. My reputation was such that managers didn’t f*ck with me. I had the trust of the artist. I would work with them and they knew I wouldn’t f*ck around or do anything they didn’t like.” – my Hero!

eddieBaba says:

These are “Legendary Photos” because time has its imprint on them. Marshall used his personality to get his subjects in focus and make these legendary shots possible. Young and inexperienced photographers may not understand this, but as time passes they will. There is showing going on now WHO SHOT ROCK & ROLL at the Annenberg Space for Photography that you should see if you get the chance. Jim’s well represented there. This is GREAT STUFF Chase!!!

Hi Chase, i am not sure why are these shots are Epic. The Bands are epic, thats right. But these picture do not show any kind of Rock ´n Roll. I am Music Photographer for 9 years and i think i have done more epic shots than these.

I love your blog but this entry is :(

Rock on


R John says:

I’m with you Bjorn, the majority of these images are nothing more than grainy snapshots.
If others deem them important because of the subject matter then so be it.
There again if the photographer had such unlimited and unhindered access, then there’s really no excuse for producing photographs of such low quality.
Saying that I do actually like one or two of them – at least the image of Johnny Cash has got some shadow on his miserable face.

Jon Tiffin says:

In this day and age, why is the quote being sensored? Did Jim really put an asterisk in the middle of his fuck?

Amazing body of work, I’m just sayin’.

Craig M says:

I heard Morrison punched him in the face right after that shot was taken. Only kidding!

I love these images! Thanks for the great inspiration :)

Some great shots, and yes, I wish I could get that kind of access (I’m working on it, and I’m building some relationships) but I also think it’s good that it’s hard to get. If everyone was given that access, the dressing rooms would get kinda full, there’s be no room left on stage for the band, and the tour buses would smell even worse…

What I’ve found interesting recently, which show up in these shots too, is that often, with film shots, minor technical issues such as focus not being quite right, or shadows in the eyes, are tolerated, or possibly even ignored. With digital, they’re not, and shots are thrown away because of them. (No real point to that speech there, but I thought it was interesting)

G Allard says:

Dylan w/tire and Miles in the ring are effing fantastic. Had the pleasure of meeting Jim back in 2009 for an APA event. His body of work has so many iconic images and that level of trust is at the core of every single one. He told a story of being onstage shooting that classic Hendrix shot (#4) and that he did it with a 24mm lens. Shows you how close we was really able to get to his subjects — both figuratively and literally.

Colby says:

EMP will have some previously unseen Jim Marshall photos of The Rolling Stones starting in August for a few months.

Far says:

Well, people in the photos are legends. But I really wouldn’t call the photos legendary. People might see this as legendary photographs maybe because they cant shoot celebrities like these even if they wanted to. Lack of money, fame and connections maybe?

I really love the articles posted on this blog, except for this one… I respect Jim as a photographer, but I really don’t see the legend in legendary photos here.

I’m a fine art photography student, so it’s just my opinion. Some of the photos tell stories here, but most of them don’t. It’s just shots of famous people.

Mark Sass says:

You’re quite right. But Marshall wasn’t a fine art photographer and it might be inappropriate to apply fine art rules and standards to his body of work.

Mark Sass says:

That by any means should not mean, that any of it has a higher value than the other.

These are some great photos, they capture a great time in music too!

You should also check out another great photographer of this time, Douglas Kent Hall. http://www.douglaskenthall.com/

Thanks for sharing this Chase!

Cal says:

I wonder if it’s possible that in 30 years we’re going to look back on the music photography now and think any of it is legendary. I have to think not. The reason so many iconic photographs were made of these musicians is because it was everyone working together to build something. These days artists restrict access so much that everyone gets basically the same shots. Not to mention that when you’re shooting live you’re kicked out of the barricade before the show really even gets started.

faisal says:

Certainly not, the days in the 70s were totally epic, in their own way.

Great set Chase. Jim Marshall is one of my greatest influences for the very reasons you cited. The level of trust and access the forefathers of music photography were able to establish is largely something we can only dream of in today’s contemporary music business.


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