Elliott Landy talks with Clash Music
Elliott Landy, author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, was interviewed by Simon Harper of Clashmusic.com. They spoke about the photographs he took of The Band, his memories of their time together, and about some exclusive photos that will only be seen at an exhibition in London in Proud Camden from June 6th to July 24th. Read an excerpt of the interview below!
Have you previously exhibited these photographs in London?
No I haven’t, actually. I made maybe two shows in London in the past, and maybe one or two were scattered throughout these shows, but no, in general it’s really, for most of them, the first time that they have been shown as fine art prints.
Apparently there will be some unseen photographs in this exhibition?
Yes. What I did for this is that I went through 12,000 negatives with my assistant – actually, she went through 12,000 and I went through about 1200 that she picked out – and then I just chose a whole lot of pictures that are just really nice and that had never seen the light of day before. I just picked out what I thought were the best photographs.
This exhibition and the popularity of your book is really a testament to the international and enduring appeal of The Band. I don’t suppose that when you were taking these pictures that you thought they would have this life of their own…
But did it feel special at all? Were you aware of what potential these guys had?
No I wasn’t, and that was part of the reason that I was able to photograph them as intimately as you describe and as the pictures show: because there was no ulterior motive or ulterior thought. It was only what was happening at that moment and how can I get the best picture of it. And nothing in my mind was impure – by ‘impure’ I mean having a second reason for doing something rather than the thing itself that you’re doing. The second reason for doing something would be because they’re gonna be worth money in the future, they’re gonna be famous in the future, and so on, so none of that was part of my mental space.
When you first started working with them, they were pretty much unknown to you, right?
They were unknown to everybody. I mean, they didn’t exist as an independent band. Well, actually they did; they were The Crackers, but nobody knew them, they had no album out, and I guess if you went to certain bars you may have seen them, but they really were unknown as a public entity.
How did it come about that you first shot them? You were accosted by their manager, Albert Grossman, I believe?
He had sourced some pictures I had taken of [his other client] Janis Joplin that were really, really nice photographs, and then when The Band – they didn’t have that name yet – were looking for a photographer, he came up to me one night in Club Generation, which is the space that later became Electric Ladyland, and he tapped me on the shoulder and waved for me to come to the back of the room with him into like a broom closet. I didn’t know if he was going to throw me out or what was going on, but he said to me, ‘Are you free next week to take a picture up in Canada?’ I said, ‘Yeah. Who’s it for?’ He said, ‘Well, they don’t really have a name yet, but if you’re interested you can go and meet some of them – they’d like to see your pictures.’ So, I went up to the studio in New York City where they were recording, and that was it. (Laughs)
Read the entire interview HERE!