Almost a year ago, curator and music writer Dave Brolan asked Baron Wolman, the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, if he had any pictures of Jimi Hendrix with a Flying V, the musician’s legendary double cutaway guitar that gave the world some of his most iconic preludes and interludes. “He said he didn’t think so but would have a look. He discovered a whole roll of film and found that one picture which has become one of Baron’s most popular.
He had not considered printing it before,” says Brolan, about the black-and-white 1968 shot taken from beneath the stage, close to the musician’s feet, which shows Hendrix in a trance as if meditating during the Red House intro. Not too far are Jack White and Jimmy Page holding each other’s guitars, and Bob Marley at his legendary concert at the Lyceum in London, the one that produced his famous recording of No Woman No Cry.
One can spot the Beatles guitars on their beds which is a priceless collection of instruments. “Robert Whitaker went everywhere with the band in 1966 and got amazing photos,” says Brolan, about the unique collection of photos by some of the finest photographers of the world. These are a part of the exhibition “Gibson Through The Lens”, which is currently on at Tease, the lounge at Vivanta by Taj, Gurgaon.
“All the photographers got really excited by the concept and took time to revisit their archives to search out photos of artists with Gibson or Epiphone guitars. To this day I have photographers calling me and saying they found a great Gibson shot, then they tell me who the artist is. We were overwhelmed with choice and had to increase the planned edit from 35 to 70 photos, and that was still tough as we had to leave many out,” says Brolan.
The photographs showcase a certain intimacy between the artistes and their guitars. Another unique shot is by photographer Carl Dunn, who used to click Elvis Presley. Presley is seen with his Gibson J-200 acoustic and in a dance pose, looking to his left. “But despite being the most famous musician on the planet, Elvis’ manager kept photographers at a distance so it was not easy to get a photo like this,” says Brolan, who believes that music photography has changed drastically since these photos were clicked, times when access wasn’t an issue.
“These photos are very important in recording the history of popular music. Back then you were allowed to take pictures and were trusted to take good ones. You were also allowed private time. Now there are so many restrictions, contracts, limited access, and competition from fans with camera phones. It’s harder to take pictures like this because we are used to seeing everything these days. Now every musician has a Twitter account so we can see what they had for breakfast before we hear them play a note,” says Brolan. These photographs have been showcased at Los Angeles, London and Mumbai as well.
The exhibition closes on December 17. Entry is free