Bob Gruen kicks off his column for Please Kill Me with the story of how he got his start as a rock photographer, and a selection of photos from his book ‘The Photography of Rock’ – featuring Ike & Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Labelle, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, and Elton John

Hello PleaseKillMe.com! I am very happy to have been asked by my good friend Legs McNeil to make a regular column feature for PleaseKillMe.com.

I’ll start with a few of my early pictures that show where my career began. Growing up in the 1950s, I heard rock and roll when it was first played on the radio and I was an immediate fan.

I went to the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 as a fan, but brought a letter saying I was photographing for a public relations firm so I could get a photo pass. (I couldn’t afford a ticket so my mom got a friend of hers at the PR firm to write the letter). I took my first concert photos there, and got a good one of Bob Dylan when he first played with a rock band there. But I didn’t know anyone in the music business, so I had nowhere to send the photos.

Bob Dylan at The Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI. July 25, 1965 © Bob Gruen

Bob Dylan at The Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI. July 25, 1965 © Bob Gruen www.bobgruen.com
Image #: C-43

In the late 1960s, I was living with a rock band (the Glitterhouse) and started my career by taking pictures of them. They were discovered by Bob Crewe, who produced a record for them (Colorblind-Atlantic Records 1968). The record company used my photos and hired me to photograph more groups.

Tina Turner multiple image on stage at the Honka Monka Club, NYC. July 8, 1970 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

Tina Turner multiple image on stage at the Honka Monka Room, NYC. July 8, 1970 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

I went to see Ike and Tina Turner in 1970 at the Honka Monka Room in Queens and sat on the floor in front of the stage, taking photographs. At the end of the show, Tina danced offstage in a flashing strobe light and I tried a one-second exposure to see if I could catch several images of her in the one photo. It came out really well and a few days later I got to show it to Ike and Tina at their next show. They liked it and my other photos and introduced me to their record company publicist. He introduced me to more people in the music business and I was on my way. Soon I was working for many record companies, and in 1972 I was included in the first book of rock music photos (The Photography of Rock).

Book cover for "The Photography Of Rock" © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

Book cover for “The Photography Of Rock” © Bob Gruen www.bobgruen.com

The writer who interviewed me for the book liked my photos and the following week brought me to take pictures for a magazine of his interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. John & Yoko liked the photos I took and used one in the package for their next record album, Sometime In New York City, and I’ve been very busy ever since.

John Lennon with 'You Are Here' shirt and Yoko Ono at the Attica Benefit at The Apollo, NYC. December 17, 1971 © Bob Gruen www.bobgruen.com

John Lennon with ‘You Are Here’ shirt and Yoko Ono at the Attica Benefit at The Apollo, NYC. December 17, 1971 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

For this first column I have chosen some of my photos that were published in The Photography of Rock – Ike & Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Labelle, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, and Elton John.

More to come next month…..

– Bob Gruen – New York City – February 2018

Little Richard with brothers backstage at the Rock and Roll Revival concert at MSG, NYC. October 30, 1970 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

Chuck Berry kissing his guitar on stage at the Rock & Roll Revival concert at MSG, NYC. October 15, 1971 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

The Beach Boys on stage during the International Youth Expo, NYC. July 1, 1971 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

Alice Cooper posing at Westbeth Studios, NYC. December 1972 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

Elton John backstage at The Fillmore East, NYC. April 9, 1971 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com   #: R-82

(L-R) Sarah Dash, Patti LaBelle and Nona Hendryx of LaBelle in pool at the Clifton Boys Club in Clifton, NJ. 1971 © Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com

Please contact Bob Gruen’s studio to purchase a print or license a photo.

Bob Gruen Web site HERE

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