LOS ANGELES, CA: Henry Diltz celebrates more than 50 years as one of the premier legendary rock photographers in the genre. You have seen his work for most of your lifetime. He is best known for shooting the cover of Morrison Hotel for The Doors. And the cover of the first Crosby Stills and Nash album. Diltz shot James Taylor for the album Sweet Baby James. He photographed the Rolling Stones in 1969 and 1972, and later travelled with Ron Wood and Keith Richards infamous 1979 New Barbarians tour.
Henry Diltz: 50 plus years of epic photographs
Henry Diltz shot the Eagles and Jackson Brown, Linda Rondstadt, Stephen Stills and all the denizens of Laurel Canyon in the late 60s’and early 70s. He was there at Stephen Stills house in 1969 when the Stones rehearsed there for weeks before the 69 tour. (As chronicled in the epic Stanley Boothe memoir The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones.)
He shot Michelle Phillips as early as 1967 and photographed the Monkees hanging out with a pre Easy Rider Jack Nicholson in 1968. Henry Diltz shot Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, and Neil Young on his farm in Santa Ynez. Diltz shot the famous “David Crosby with a Flag Gun”. Notoriously, he captured Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood flying down to San Diego in a Learjet.
Henry Diltz: A celebration at the Sunset Marquis Hotel
Saturday night at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Hollywood, in a glamorous pre-Oscar bash, Henry Diltz was celebrated for his more than 50 years as an epic rock photographer. Now 81 and still kicking strong, Henry is among the elite few who’s images are seared into our memories of rock elites from the 60s and 70s.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery, a collective of photographers who represent Henry Diltz and many other photographic artists, teamed up with the Sunset Marquis Hotel to throw a party for Henry with an all star gala. It is the night before the Oscars and the Sunset Marquis is packed to the brim with celebrity guests. It is also the scene for Henry Diltz’s rock and roll celebration. This is the 20th anniversary of the Morrison Hotel Gallery at the Sunset Marquis.
An all star cast at the Sunset Marquis
An all star band has assembled to put Henry on a pedestal. To honor how much the photography of that era has been an indelible imprint of a time and a music that everyone wishes they had lived through and Henry chronicled. Henry was a great photographer, but also a trusted friend of the musicians. When he shoots Joni Mitchell through her living room window in Laurel Canyon you can see the connection between them.
We run into Henry in the middle of the Morrison Hotel Gallery holding court around an array of his greatest photographs. Diltz used Nikon camera’s almost exclusively. Of all his adventures with the Rolling Stones he counts the time on the New Barbarian tour with Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards as his favorite. He reminisces about hanging with Jerry Garcia, Paul Kantner, and Grace Slick in Bolinas in 1970.
The return of the rock band: Badflower singer Josh Katz
We also run into Josh Katz, the lead singer from the amazing up and coming rock band Badflower. On a recent trip this writer took to Italy for a month, Badflower and their recent video “The Jester ” was all over a European music video channel called Virgin Radio. On many nights from Lake Como to Verona to Sienna to Florence to Milan. Virgin Radio was one of the few English language channels. Badflower was in heavy rotation.
Over the course of the month the excellent Badflower video for The Jester and a lengthy interview of Josh Katz and the band with an Italian TV host played over and over. “Is there anybody out there looking out for me?” he sings plaintively over thundering guitars. By the end of the trip my wife and I were huge fans. There aren’t many rock bands rising these days. Badflower combines powerhouse vocals, great writing and lyrics, terrific melodies, and crunching rock guitars with great riffs and lead guitar lines.
So it was fitting on a celebration of rock photography history that Josh was there. He seemed pleased to be recognized, and delighted with the story of how a 60 year old rock fan and his wife had found a new young rock band to champion. Badflower returns to touring this spring and summer for a national tour opening for Incubus.
A celebration of 50 years since the release of Morrison Hotel
The open court around the swimming pool is filling with partygoers as the evening swings into full throttle. Sebastian Bach from Skid Row is here with his wife Suzanne. Skid Row had a huge first album in the 80s with the hit single “18 or Life”. Bach went on to appear on Broadway in the musical “Jekkyl and Hyde” in 2000. He looks great, and is friendly and robust as he takes in greetings from well wishers.
The live music tonight is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the release of Morrison Hotel and the Doors. Doors guitarist Robbie Kreiger and the house band hold forth for the next two hours. An array of special guests join the band to perform Doors songs. Robert Randolph is sizzling throughout a 4 song set. Dennis Quaid takes a turn at doing LA Woman. The Struts lead singer Luke Spiller, Michael Bolton, and Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats also make guest appearances.
The evening reaches a climax with Miley Cyrus singing “Back Door Man”. By that time the Sunset Marquis is bursting at the seams. Every corner of the hotel is packed, from the pool to the lobby, to the hotel bar. Its another epic night at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, and a fitting tribute to the great Henry Diltz.
Henry Diltz: A photographer for the ages
Henry Diltz was there for epic moments with legendary bands when it counted and captured it on film. It is a living testament to his work that the images are as powerful and evocative today as when we first saw them. It was a magical time that we venerate for good reason. For the music. The incredible memories. For the ideals of a blissfully indulgent society.
Mostly for a sense of the new frontier of music that was the 60s and 70s. Forever captured by people like Henry Diltz, his compatriots Jim Marshall, Robert Knight, Ethan Russell, Neil Preston and a handful of other rock photographers whose storied images are all we have left of a magnificent era that has long since past.
From Crosby Stills and Nash to Jimi Hendrix, from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana, from Woodstock to the Fabulous Forum. Henry Diltz has been at the center of our rock photography dreams. Like all great photographers, his work will live on in our collective memories long after all of us are gone. Thats a special kind of rock immortality.