What was I thinking?

I was very young with very little money when I had this big idea of making a coffee table book of artwork done by six musicians. While Joni Mitchell was the first person I thought of, she was the fifth artist to participate in my first book, Starart. It took me a whole year, calling Joni's manager every other week before I finally got a meeting with her. I showed her mock-ups of the first four artists and she immediately said "yes". She wanted to do something with her art and liked the idea of being in a book with other artist/musicians so she wouldn't have to carry all the pressure. Her quick decision (after me waiting a year) was a huge relief and reinforced my belief to 'never give up'.

The process of putting the book began with me taking snapshots (slide film) of all the artists works, doing their portraits, interviewing them for their story and getting captions for the art pieces. I had the film developed and arranged the slides chronologically, picking what I felt was relevant to their artistic journey. Once I knew how the pages for each artist would lay out, I'd size the slides for prints and write/type their biography and the captions, then paste all of the art and text onto paper.

I was fascinated and impressed by her artistic journey, from simplistic small ink drawings during her early folk days to the huge detailed canvases influenced by her complex jazz music. I studied every piece of art Joni created, to the point when it came time to make prints from her slides and was a bit short on funds, I decided to hand draw every piece in her 36 pages.

What was I thinking? Plagiarizing over 50 pieces of Joni Mitchell's art. Knowing that I would have to show her this mock-up and she could decide not to be in the book. Stupid move. I agonized over every piece trying to capture the details and the overall feel. I spent a lot of time on it. I think I was possessed, trying to channel her genius. After all, we were born a hundred apart in Alberta, Canada and both in November (her's on the 7th, mine on the 10th). Seriously, what was I thinking?

I couldn't have been more nervous showing up at her manager's office to meet with her. She had already seen the mock-ups I did on the other artists. You know, the ones with the photo prints of their work. I slowly pulled her mock-up out of my bag, then out of the big envelope and blurted out how, do to unexpected circumstances, I had to draw all of her work. I saw a very brief OMG tinge in her eyes and then an optimistic "wow" out of her mouth. As she leafed through her pages she couldn't believe it. She loved what I had done and said I should print my drawings of her art instead.

I knew she didn't mean that but her thoughtfulness reinforced my purpose to make the most beautiful coffee book I could to showcase their art to the world. To this day I can't believe they trusted me; this very young girl with no track record, no cred -- just an idea in my head and a fear of not following through. To this day, I am beyond grateful to Commander Cody, Klaus Voormann, John Mayall, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell and Ronnie Wood. With the loss of so many musicians last year, I am so thankful that these six are still with us. 

Here's a spread of Joni's mock-up:

If you're new to my site, check out the STARART section for photos, art and video of these amazing artist/musicians. And don't forget, you can excel in more than one discipline if your willing to put in the extra work.

HB Ron Wood!

Celebrating Ron Wood's birthday today! How old are you, Ronnie?

RON WOOD

I shot this never-before-seen photograph of Ron Wood while he was signing the Starart Limited Edition books. Which reminds me there is one brand new, still boxed, copy available at a discount for the next couple of days. Grab it while you can.

Cool video of Stay With Me...


HB Klaus Voormann

When the huge outpouring for Prince took over the internet I thought it was a shame that how we feel about the musicians we love is massively put out there after the person dies. I think we should celebrate our icons while they're still here and can feel the love.

This is why I am celebrating the birthdays of musicians I've had the privilege to photograph, and in this case, also publish his artwork in Starart for the world to see.

Today Klaus Voormann turned 78. And it is my hope that he stays around for a long, long time. Check out the video below...it's perfect for today as he's recording and mucking around in the studio with his pal, P. McCartney.

 
 

KLAUS VOORMANN

From Klaus's A Sideman's Journey released in 2009, this video is like a birthday party. Enjoy...

 
 

Pick up your new copy of the trade edition of my first book, Starart.

 
 

Or better yet, the Limited Edition Starart book, signed by the artists.

 
 

And a print of his painting, Tushe, numbered and signed or a straight print.

 
 

HB Sir Elton

Celebrating Sir Elton John's birthday today! This is the first time I am showing you this photograph. If you have seen before it's because you saw or got a navy blue t-shirt with this picture blazoned on the front using the heat transfer technique, at the Woodward's store chain in Canada. I just want you to know that the photograph was borrowed/stolen by some jackass that happened to see a print of it in the Vancouver office of MCA Records. So consider yourself a pirate.

Well I could have used the royalties, had I licensed the photo to the Top Pirate, but I learned that sometimes bad things can evolve into good things. It all changed because of I guy I ran into at an L.A. restaurant who I had met in Vancouver when I shot the Hudson Brothers in a recording studio there. He invited me to shoot a taping of the Hudson Brother Razzle Dazzle television show. I took him up on that and the photos turned out great so they asked me to go to their label, Rocket Records - which was Elton John's own record company - and show them to someone there.

He was very impressed with my shots (yay!) and paid me for a bunch of prints (bigger yay!). Then I told the guy I was meeting with (sorry, I can't remember his name) about this Canadian tool stealing my photograph of Elton and selling racks of them in major department stores. I expected him to say, 'Gee, that's too bad', but instead he said that they were against bootleggers of any kind making money off of Elton John (and me). Maybe that stance had something to do with the incident in 1970 when some a-hole bootlegger in NY recorded an EJ concert and sold it prior to Elton's 11-17-70 live album release, and to add further insult he included a few more songs than Elton's version.

So, this cool Rocket Records dude called Elton's attorneys and set up an appointment with them for me. (Sidebar - As I'm writing this I can't really believe this story myself even though it's true) So I go to the meeting with one of the two t-shirts I actually bought and surprisingly, they decided to go after the culprit. Just being in their offices was a score but then they were going to go after these guys on behalf of me and Elton on the same suit. How crazy cool is that?

As time went by, they realized that suing the a-hole(s) across the border was going to be more costly than any settlement they could make.

Normally, that would be the end of the story, however, this is me...and nothing is normal when it comes to me. Since the people at this law firm were so nice and also freakin' good at what they did, little nobody me decided to ask them if they would handle my legal needs for my upcoming book, Starart this was before I had a couple or three of the six artists. I don't know what I was thinking. They were obviously way above my pay grade but despite that I still had the gall to ask. I'm sure it must have been a moment of weakness on their part because they said YES! They were even better than I expected them to be in the way that they handled everything, even when Mick and Keith's lawyer tried to get an injunction against me from releasing the book with the portraits of them that Ron Wood had done. Side note: Mick and Keith had verbally given the permission when I showed them the mock-up of Ronnie's section of the book when I met up with him at a Rolling Stones recording session.

So, I send very Happy Birthday wishes to the man in the photograph below, and thank him for surrounding himself with such awesome people.

 
EltonCol001.jpg
 

Honky Chateau is my favorite Elton John album...so here is Honky Cat...

 
 

Don't Miss Him

I am so bummed that I wasn't at John Mayall's New York shows at The City Winery last night and tonight. I was supposed to be there and looking forward to taking pictures of him again. Every time I've seen him live he was amazing.

Check out the rest of his tour and if you're anywhere near where he's playing, GO AND SEE HIM! And tell him I say Hi! He's one of the great bluesmen. And responsible for the success of so many famous musicians. He may have turned 82 last December but when he's on stage he's rockin' closer to 30.

I shot this one a few years back at the Topanga festival...

Oh, and did I forget to mention he's one of the six artists in my first book, Starart? I took this photograph when we were working on the book. Great musician, great artist and we are so lucky he's not retiring any time soon.


You can own a signed print of Joni's Favorite, by John Mayall, and a copy of Starart where you will see 36 pages of John's work. All of his artwork was destroyed when his Laurel Canyon house was burned to the ground just a few months before the book came out.

Two Birthdays!

I have two people I'm connected to with birthdays today. Going alphabetically...

Happy Birthday, John Belushi!

While I did not shoot him, he is in my first book, Starart. This portrait was done by Ron Wood (Rolling Stones). I did have the pleasure of meeting him at Ronnie's house, where he gave me a quote for the book. And then again, a year or so later when I ran into him at Lucy's El Adobe. The was an interesting encounter when I told him his portrait was made into prints. His reaction was to rant at me, saying I couldn't do that and he wanted royalties. The people he was eating with looked like they wanted to crawl under the table. I, on the other hand, somehow knew he was kidding so my response to him was, "How about I drop off some prints for you." He took a pen out and jotted down his Paramount Studios office address on a napkin and signed his name on the top. Yup, it was all in fun. I still have that napkin somewhere in storage.

 
 

JOHN BELUSHI
1/24/49 - 3/5/82

There are no decent SNL videos to share so I found a National Lampoon performance of John doing Joe Cocker.

And I can link you to Belushi's screen test for SNL...here

Today's second birthday is Ray Stevens, who I did shoot early in my career. Thankfully, he is still alive and is still performing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RAY!

 
Ray Stevens006.jpg
 

RAY STEVENS

He did his share of comedy, including his novelty song The Streak which was number one on Billboard for three weeks. He also wrote and performed this one... 

 
 

John Mayall

Celebrating John's 82nd birthday today! And he's still rockin', or should I say bluesin'. 

I've shot John on many occasions. Most recently was in NY at Iridium a couple of years ago (you can find it on my Facebook page in the photos) and before that I shot this photo at the Topanga Memorial Day Festival in 2011.

 
JMayall_7699.jpg
 

I also shot him at the Starwood back in the day (I need to scan some of those) and at his house when I was working with him on his section of Starart. This is the portrait we put in the book.

 
 

A couple of months after Starart was finished printing, John's Laurel Canyon home burned to the ground. He lost everything. Thankfully we had preserved many of his art pieces in the book.

John is still playing all over the world - check out his tour this Spring on his website - and I know I'll be checking him out (and hopefully shooting) in March at City Winery in NYC. Seeing a John Mayall concert should definitely be on your bucket list!

 
 

Check out John's art in Starart.

Birthday Bash

Tomorrow is my birthday. I am not announcing it looking for birthday wishes. And I am not looking for birthday presents, per se. But if you are getting any enjoyment from my blog posts or anything else you look at on my website, I would love for you to gift something from my shop to yourself or someone else in your family or circle of friends.

So, yes, you would be gifting me and also gifting someone else at the same time. And in turn I am gifting you with a 15% discount on everything you purchase from my website between now and 11:59pm November 13, 2015. It's easy as pie - just put promo code BirthdayBash at checkout!

Please take some time to peruse my wares:

Everybody I Shot Is Dead  :   All the musicians I've photographed who have passed away. There are 48 in the book and 6 more who have died since the book was published.

Everybody I Shot Is Dead:
All the musicians I've photographed who have passed away. There are 48 in the book and 6 more who have died since the book was published.

Starart  :   The fine art of musicians Joni Mitchell, John Mayall, Cat Stevens, Ron Wood, Klaus Voormann and Commander Cody.

Starart:
The fine art of musicians Joni Mitchell, John Mayall, Cat Stevens, Ron Wood, Klaus Voormann and Commander Cody.

Music Prints  :   The musicians I have shot who are thankfully still with us. This section will continually grow and change as I cull through my archives and continue to shoot.

Music Prints:
The musicians I have shot who are thankfully still with us. This section will continually grow and change as I cull through my archives and continue to shoot.

Fine Art Prints  :   My fine art photography is available in very limited editions. I am still building this page so if you see something in my   photography pages   that you would like, please contact me.

Fine Art Prints:
My fine art photography is available in very limited editions. I am still building this page so if you see something in my photography pages that you would like, please contact me.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME AND YOU AND YOU!