Almost 50 years ago, as a teen growing up in Los Angeles, I was thrust into the world of sex, drugs, and rock & roll of the 70’s music scene; filled with brilliant artists, raunchy parties, private jets, jars of cocaine, and unlimited budgets. And it all started for me by accident at a David Bowie concert on March 12, 1973.
Standing in the festival seating line at the Hollywood Palladium, a fight broke out. Security guards came running out of the arena leaving a door ajar, and I rushed in right up against the stage. Lucky.
I brought a Leica 3g, a rangefinder camera from the 1950s my uncle gave me, along with a 90mm lens, and several rolls of Ektachrome.
“Ziggy Stardust” was a breathtaking rock opera, and I was less than 10 feet from David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars! With every shot taken, I forever captured a once-in-a-lifetime moment of true artistic genius. Bowie never took a bad picture. Lucky.
The following week, a cold call with a few prints in hand to RCA Records, Bowie's record label at the time, led to some sales on the spot. And then a meeting with Bowie’s manager at his house in Laurel Canyon. Very lucky.
That began an unexpected turn to photographing some of the biggest rock icons of the 1970’s.
Around that same time my older sister was dating a music promotions exec who worked at Blue Thumb Records. He needed a photographer for several artist’s promotions, and took a chance on me. Little did he know that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing nor owned the proper camera gear. But he really liked my sister and kept feeding me projects! Damn lucky.
More projects led to meeting lots of music people, who would hire me for all kinds of assignments; live performances, backstage pics, PR, promotions ... and in some cases as a traveling photographer for the likes of Bad Company, The Pointer Sisters and Alice Cooper! Wildly lucky.
I was doing all of this while at UCLA, using a "pager" so I wouldn’t miss any assignments; like getting a call one night at 3am to shoot Michael Jackson at Whitney Studios. Crazy lucky.
My college sweetheart Ginger (now wife of 36 years), would run film to the labs, and drop off proof sheets and prints at the labels. Very very lucky :-)
My street photography roots took hold early on, inspired by the 19th & 20th century masters: Bresson, Lartigue, Frank, Boubat, Doisneau, Arbus, Giacomelli, Penn. They influenced much of my experimentation in music photography, much to the chagrin of the record execs who weren't paying for my artistic pursuits.
The money earned from those shoots was going to fund an around the world trip I planned after college. Upon graduation, I traveled the globe 1978-79 with a backpack, camera, 50 rolls of film, and lots of curiosity. I came back completely broke but with the experience of a lifetime. Amazingly lucky.
My rock photographer days and pics all went into storage for the next 5 decades, during which I raised a family, worked in advertising, and founded several startups. Mostly lucky.
Some 50 years later, upon urging from friends and family, I dug through thousands of negatives and slides with a new perspective to create a show that celebrates this golden time in music history which I was privileged to photograph. Stupendously lucky, grateful & honored to share it.
Steve Goldman December 25, 2021