Rock Photographer Toasts To The Good Old Days Of Better Magazines, Cooler Musicians

Nov 10th, 2006 // 4 Comments

The L.A. Times profiles rock photographer Neil Preston, a guy who shot just about everyone in the ’70s and ’80s, including the always-subtle Jimmy Page (pictured). The story touches on the current state of music photography, which has shifted from “let’s hang on the bus for a few days in Stockholm” intimacy to “Courtney just collapsed at the Eckerd!” lunacy:

[Preston's] distress over the current celebrity overkill is both personal and professional. “It turned a corner somewhere and I’m not sure when that was,” he says. “These days, if I don’t personally know a publicist or artist, rarely is it not set up as an adversarial relationship going in”…

Danny Goldberg, who in the ’70s was Led Zeppelin’s publicist and arranged the relationship with Preston, agrees that the mutual respect was key to the access. “Neal would show Jimmy Page the slides, and Jimmy would eliminate the ones he hated — it had to do with crow’s-feet and belly,” says Goldberg.

That’s a typo on the Times‘ part: As all Zepheads know, Crow’s Feet and Belly were actually the names of two barely legal groupies who frequented the Riot House back in the mid-’70s.

As for the rest of the story, while empathize with Preston’s disappointed with modern-day rock photography, we actually think it’s has less to do with paparazzi, and more to do with the musicians themselves: Thanks to personal blogs, television mini-documentaries, and a glut of media outlets willing to run “confessional” interviews, there’s very little that’s not known about the behind-the-scenes life these days. You can guarantee that if Page was caught downing that bottle nowadays, Bonzo would hack his Sidekick and send it in to ohnotheydidnt.

All-access pass to history [LA Times]

  1. Chris Molanphy

    It seems to me there’s two types of celebrity photography nowadays, both wrought by the same reality. Type 1: posed and airbrushed. Type 2: quickie/paparazzi and nasty. And the reason is that the relations between celebs and the people who cover them have so deteriorated that no middle ground is possible. Seriously, it’s like a metaphor for the death of moderate politics in D.C. – it’s all extremes now: extreme control, extreme invasion. Sad.

  2. SlimShadenfruede

    I came accross this by chance through one of your links, so spot on:

  3. janine

    Maybe there’s the factor of the stage persona being so far from the reality. As we can see from the pic above the onstage Jimmy Page isn’t far from the offstage Jimmy Page. Perhaps part of the problem is (with the biggest stars) that offstage, they’re more Hollywood than rock and roll.

    Or maybe music magazines are attracting a different kind of photographer, and the new guys are more portraitists than photojournalists.

  4. drjimmy11

    maybe mainstream rock music sucks really bad now?

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