Remembering A Rock Star: Photographer Ken Regan

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    Elvis Presley, early 1960s, with Nancy Sinatra. "I knew I would have to hustle in this competitive business if I wanted to make a name for myself .... But I had to make it to this one: Sgt. Elvis Presley, stationed for two years in Germany, was flying in to meet with the media at Fort Dix, N.J., on the eve of his discharge."
    Ken Regan/Camera 5
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    The Beatles with Ed Sullivan, 1964. "The audience in the 703-seat theater shrieked nonstop. This was at the deafening dawn of Beatlemania. You couldn't hear a thing. Some fans just seemed to be in shock, staring ahead, tears running down their cheeks."
    Ken Regan
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    "When The Beatles returned to America in August, 1965 ... I got one of my favorites. Walking the aisles, one audience member caught my eye: an older man sitting with his fingers plugged in his ears to mute the high-pitched squeals. As I moved in for this terrific shot, I got a closer look and realized I was photographing the legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein."
    Ken Regan
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    The Rolling Stones on Saturday Night Live, 1978. Bill Murray blow-drying Ron Wood's hair.
    Ken Regan
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    Sonny and Cher, 1966. "I truly lucked out with the kind of access that almost no longer exists. 'I Got You Babe' had been a number one hit in the summer of 1965, but the sassy, animated couple — Sonny was 34, Cher was 19 — couldn't have been more cooperative, friendly, and open."
    Ken Regan
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    Woodstock, 1969. "Woodstock was not just the mother of all rock festivals, it was a photographer's paradise."
    Ken Regan
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    Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger confer at a benefit played in Tarrytown, N.Y., for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., 1969. "He's the son of populist folk pioneer Woody Guthrie, but Arlo Guthrie, when he was only twenty-two, had found his own voice with his sardonic, counterculture anthem, 'Alice's Restaurant.' "
    Ken Regan
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    Mick Jagger's 29th birthday party. "At the party I photographed Mick and Keith with Bob Dylan at a time when Dylan sightings were extremely rare. Why was he there? Maybe the folk-rock icon was curious to meet up with rock 'n' roll's greatest icons-in-the-making."
    Ken Regan
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    "Once ... I thought, God, that smells really good, like eggs or something. I went into the kitchen — this was still midday — and there was Keith, standing over a frying pan at the stove, without a shirt on, cooking up some eggs. I had to do a triple take: he never got up much before six or 7 p.m. Thank God I had my camera because this was a one-in-a-million shot."
    Ken Regan
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    Tour of the Americas, on the plane between San Antonio and Kansas City,
    June 1975, (left to right) Bianca Jagger, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards.
    Ken Regan
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    In the fall of 1977, I did a home take and a People cover (with Mick and Keith) of a very mellow, domesticated Keith Richards with his girlfriend of ten years, Anita Pallenberg, and their eight-year-old son, Marlon."
    Ken Regan
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    Westbury Music Fair, January 1970, Jim Morrison and The Doors
    Ken Regan
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    Janis Joplin at the Fillmore East, March 1968
    Ken Regan
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    Bob Dylan checking a Halloween mask in the mirror, Plymouth, Mass., Rolling Thunder Revue tour, 1975.
    Ken Regan
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    "Merry players" on the beach, Bob playing trumpet. Thanksgiving, 1975, Sturbridge, Mass.
    Ken Regan
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    Joan Baez and Bob Dylan practicing backstage, Rolling Thunder Revue tour, 1975. "Rolling Thunder was unlike any tour before it or since — an antic, in-the-moment carnival of impromptu happenings starring an ever-shifting cast of offbeat characters. Bob had given me free rein to shoot it all — onstage, backstage, offstage, dressing rooms, parties, trailers, whatever was going on."
    Ken Regan
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    Rolling Thunder Revue tour, Montreal, 1975. ' "What's with the whiteface?" I asked Bob as he was being made up before a show. Nobody could figure that out. He said, "Well, I'm playing these halls and it's really dark. I want the people way in the back to be able to see my eyes." Okay. Whatever."
    Ken Regan
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    Iggy Pop in New York for the Dec. 10, 1984, issue of People magazine. "By the time I shot Iggy for People in late 1984, he had calmed down quite a bit. He was 37, and a cool, terrific, and very amenable subject."
    Ken Regan
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    "In 1970, Time sent me down to Hendersonville, Tenn., near Nashville, for a story on Johnny Cash. I spent a couple of days with Johnny and his wife, June Carter Cash, photographing them at their home. The shoot was both a challenge and a thrill."
    Ken Regan
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    "In 1977, Peter Frampton was filling 90,000-seat stadiums as a good-looking songwriter and fluid, blues-rock guitarist who made upbeat lollipop rock. I shot him in several situations ... [including] at a sold-out concert in Philadelphia's JFK Stadium."
    Ken Regan

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If you've been around longer than me, perhaps you were already familiar with Ken Regan's photography.

I'll admit: I didn't discover him until just the other day, under somber circumstances. A colleague forwarded this obituary in Rolling Stone, advising simply: "He's a big deal." The music photographer died of cancer one week ago.

Photographer Ken Regan with the Rolling Stones, 1977 i i

Photographer Ken Regan with the Rolling Stones, 1977 Courtesy of Ken Regan/Camera 5 hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Ken Regan/Camera 5
Photographer Ken Regan with the Rolling Stones, 1977

Photographer Ken Regan with the Rolling Stones, 1977

Courtesy of Ken Regan/Camera 5
All Access

The Rock 'n' Roll Photography of Ken Regan

by Ken Regan, Jim Jerome, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and James Taylor

Hardcover, 288 pages | purchase

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Title
All Access
Subtitle
The Rock 'n' Roll Photography of Ken Regan
Author
Ken Regan, Jim Jerome, et al

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So I got a hold of his book, All Access, which was published one year ago this month; and after only a few minutes with his photos, I was enamored. I pored over his first-person anecdotes: Stories of his first important shoot — with Elvis Presley, who had just returned from Army service in Germany; of catching Leonard Bernstein plugging his ears at a Beatles concert; of accidentally drinking hallucinogenic punch backstage at a Rolling Stones concert; of his exclusive access to one of Bob Dylan's tours.

Granted, there's no shortage of Rolling Stones photos in the world. But how often does Mick Jagger write personal book introductions for photographers?

"As Ken would accompany us on our tours, it just so happened that I would end up accompanying him on his gigs as well," Jagger writes.

Regan's reputation was such that, with his kind of access, even the Rolling Stones would call on him for favors.

There's too much to say and too little space here, so I'll leave you with Regan's photos, captioned in his own words from the book.

I didn't know him personally, and regret that I missed the chance to ask him about his experiences. But the beautiful thing about being a photographer is that you're not just a witness to your time, but you also leave behind a visual legacy of your life.

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