Who Shot Rock N Roll?


The camera captured the power of the music.

Who Shot Rock & Roll is the first major museum exhibition to focus on rock & roll photography. It will be on exhibit  at the Birmingham Museum of Art, beginning June 24.

From its earliest days, the photographers of rock & roll personalized, eroticized and energized the musicians, creating a visual identity for the music and the social and cultural transformations it created.

The exhibition is in six sections: rare and revealing images taken behind the scenes; snapshots of young musicians at the beginnings of their careers; exhilarating photographs of live performances that display the energy, passion, style and sex appeal of the musicians on stage; powerful images of the crowds and fans that are often evocative of history paintings; portraits revealing the soul and creativity, rather than the surface and celebrity, of the musicians; and conceptual images and album covers highlighting the collaborative efforts between the image makers and the musicians.

Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Gail Buckland. Dates: June 24 to September 18; general admission $10; members free.

Tupac Shakur

Danny Clinch

This 1993 portrait of Tupac shows the pride and solitude of the singer as he stands for this Danny Clinch photograph.  The soft skin tones, the tattoos and the sheen of the belt buckle combine to create a feeling of sensitivity overlaid with power.

Elvis Presley

Alfred Werthheimer

All the seductive power of rock and roll seems wrapped up in this photograph of Elvis and a fan in the stairway of the Mosque Theatre in Richmond, Va., June 30, 1956. Taken by Alfred Werthheimer, it is among the 1,500 photographs Werthheimer shot of Elvis in 1956 in a “fly on the wall” style that captured the unique charisma of the King of Rock and Roll.

Frank Zappa

Jerry Schatzberg

Zappa’s intense stare and the bright colors of this portrait, taken in New York City in 1967, seem the perfect combination for the surreal rock star. Jerry Schatzberg was a 1960s fashion photographer. He later became a filmmaker whose works include The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow.

Rolling Stone magazine ran this photo across two pages in its June 14, 2007, issue in a story about Winehouse entitled “The Diva and Her Demons.” This photograph by Max Vadukal, shot a few months before that issue in Miami, Fla., on Winehouse’s wedding day, evokes the inscrutable nature of modern stardom.

Radiohead

Nitin Vadukul

This complex group portrait of Radiohead, taken by Nitin Vadukul in St. Louis, Mo., in 1993, captures a sense of the fluid and cerebral music for which the group became famous. Pictured from left are Johnny Greenwood, Phil Selway, Thom Yorke, Ed O’Brien and Colin Greenwood.

Ike and Tina Turner

Ernest C. Withers

Memphis photographer Ernest C. Withers masterfully captured the African-American experience in the South, from the Negro Leagues to the Civil Rights Movement to everyday life. He also photographed practically every African-American musician who passed through Memphis from the 1940s on. In this photograph of Ike and Tina Turner at Club Paradise in Memphis in 1962, you can see the intensity they brought to the music.

Chrissie Hynde

David Corio

The lighting on the instruments, the expressions on the faces of the musicians, even the torn bits of gaffer’s tape, capture the intensity of live performance in this David Corio photograph of Chrissie Hynde playing with The Pretenders in London, March 9, 1979.

Amy Winehouse

Max Vadukual

Rolling Stone magazine ran this photo across two pages in its June 14, 2007, issue in a story about Winehouse entitled “The Diva and Her Demons.” This photograph by Max Vadukal, shot a few months before that issue in Miami, Fla., on Winehouse’s wedding day, evokes the inscrutable nature of modern stardom.

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