John Lennon 1974  Photo: Bob Gruen
John Lennon 1974 Photo: Bob Gruen

A Podcast Conversation With ...Bob Gruen

Rock Photographer Bob Gruen.

I remember this image of the late great rock photographer Jim Marshall elbowing his way into the action with five Leica camera bodies hanging around his neck. The perimeter and territory in between the sole property of the man with the guns. The Marshalls were a far cry, more aggressive that the Linda McCartneys who worked quietly within the landscape of rock mayhem and captured moments of interest and genuine warmth.

Photographer Bob Gruen certainly fills that space. Being there is as important as being on. Gruen’s captures are iconic. Many long embedded in our psyche. Gruen’s work will be on display at the Liss Gallery in Yorkville, 112 Cumberland Street, Toronto - from September 17, 2022. This is where the conversation begins, this week’s FYI Music News.Ca podcast.

Notes of Gruen:

Gruen was born and raised in New York. After he dropped out of college and quit his job in a photo booth at the New York World's Fair in Queens, he attended the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and took photographs of Bob Dylan performing.

Gruen credits Ike Turner with starting his career. He first saw Ike & Tina Turner perform at Madison Square Garden during the Rolling Stones' American tour in 1969. In 1970, Gruen took photographs of them performing at the Honka Monka nightclub in Queens. He showed Turner the photographs and was invited to photograph them in California. "Ike introduced me to the publicist for their record company who took me to parties and introduced me to more people in the music business," he said. Gruen developed a friendship with the Turners and shot the cover of their 1971 album 'Nuff Said. In 2012, Gruen released Ike & Tina On The Road: 1971–72, a documentary he and his then-wife Nadya filmed of the Turners at their home and on tour.

Gruen served as John Lennon's personal photographer during his time in New York City in 1971. Gruen is best known for his photograph of Lennon wearing a New York City T-shirt. Other notable celebrities and rock bands photographed by Gruen include the New York Dolls, The Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Patti Smith Group, Sonny & Cher, Blondie, Led Zeppelin, The Who, David Bowie, Elton John, Aerosmith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Courtney Love, and Green Day.

Since 1980, Morrison Hotel Gallery has been the primary representative for Gruen's photography. His work is included in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

In 2008, Gruen's Rockers, a 280-photograph installation, exhibited at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York. From December 2011 to January 2012, the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles held an exhibition of Gruen's photographs from his book Rock Seen. His photographs have been exhibited at various art galleries and museums internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, Sotheby's S/2 Gallery London, the Morris Museum in New Jersey, and the Shelburne Museum in Vermont

In 2020, Gruen released his memoir Right Place, Right Time: The Life of a Rock & Roll Photographer.

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