Elliott Landy is a phenomenal photographer with a 40+ year career having documented the classic rock-and-roll era with greats such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix to name a few. He recently sat down with Laura Ingle on Fox News Radio’s, “Bonus Track,” to discuss his latest book, The Band Photographs 1968-1969.
I designed and created this book entirely in my own studio, with complete creative control. Because of this, I was able to lay out the photos as I wanted, in order to create the most harmonious visual book experience and communicate what was going on in front of the camera.
Landy had taken photos for the band through the production of their first two albums, Music from Big Pink and The Band, producing over 12,000 photos. The Band Photographs 1968-1969 features 200 of those, more than half had never been published before.
This interview comes just in time for the 40th anniversary The Band’s farewell concert appearance, The Last Waltz. The concert took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. It was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary under the same name in 1978. To this day, the concert is still referred to as the best of its time.
When I knew them, it was pure brotherhood in the best sense of it
The Band Photographs 1968-1969 is Elliot Landy’s chronicle of the Band from 1968-1969. The mutual trust and collaborative partnership was so deep that this collection of photographs forms an intimate portrait of the a group of miscians not only engaged in their craft, but captured as they created a new genre of music.
The book features commentary from John Simon who produced the Band’s first two albums and was considered the Band’s sixth member. There is also an introduction by Jonathan Taplin, their tour manager form 1969-1972.
When they made music, all they wanted to do is that music to come out right. So that’s what I hope they’ll take away from this, is peace and love.
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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!
Elliott Landy, author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, was interviewed by the Hudson Valley Magazine! Elliott speaks with writer for the Hudson Valley Magazine, Mary Forsell, about why he decided to put the book together and working with The Band. Read below for an excerpt of the interview, and let us know your thought in the comments below.
Born in 1942, he started off as a complete unknown who published photos of Vietnam War protests in underground newspapers. When his work caught the eye of rock manager Albert Grossman (whose client list included Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Peter, Paul and Mary, among others), photographer Elliott Landy suddenly had access to the biggest names in the rock and roll industry. In the ’60s, he took hundreds of thousands of photographs of rock music icons like Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix; he was also the official photographer for the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Now this legendary lensman has released The Band Photographs: 1968-1969 (Backbeat Books), a new book that is chockablock with some 200 photos, many of which have never been seen before. The book chronicles the intense year and a half that the group spent in the Saugerties-Woodstock area working on its first two albums. We caught up with Landy and asked him to share his thoughts on that incendiary period and its resonance today, as well as his love for his adopted hometown of Woodstock.
How did the photo sessions with the Band come about?
I was living in New York City and becoming a photographer, learning the craft and how to make money from it. I was asked to come [to Woodstock] and photograph the Band for the Music From Big Pink album. Albert Grossman, the Band’s manager, asked me. The album and the group didn’t have a name. First, they wanted to be anonymous. They didn’t want to label themselves with any particular “cutesy name” — they used that term. They wanted to remain free to change the kind of music they were playing. The Band was living in West Saugerties in a house they dubbed Big Pink. [Lead guitarist and songwriter] Robbie Robertson and his wife, Dominique, lived in Woodstock in another house by themselves.
How did the sessions work?
I went to Big Pink on Easter Sunday weekend in 1968. I was a fly on the wall. I don’t work conceptually at all; I try not to think about what I’m doing. I bring my camera and take pictures of whatever the person is offering up. I let the dance happen. There was no schedule, it was very casual.
What’s your favorite photo from the book?
One great photo is of them sitting on a bench in front of a pond [left]. You don’t know who they are. I didn’t set it up.
How did you come up with that iconic sepia image of the Band standing in a field?
After two shoots I’d gotten to know them, and I really liked and respected and admired them; I felt they were wise people. They were very grounded, and, in a way, very old-fashioned, polite. I had a book of Civil War-era photographs by Mathew Brady. I just felt that that style of photography was who they were. Once I established that, I had to analyze the mind space of 1860, what photography was like then. When the photographer came around, the people respected him, and got dressed up and faced the camera and focused on it. I explained it to them, you have to stand straight and pay attention and act like it’s very important and very unusual — like you haven’t seen a camera before.
Read the entire article HERE!
Elliott Landy author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, spoke with Paul Metsa, host of the Wall of Power Radio Hour about how he approached his work, his respect for the Band, and how he became the official photographer of the Woodstock Music Festival. Click on the link below to hear what they had to say!
On rare exalted occasions, a photographer gains the trust of a performer or band, and his work fuses with theirs in such a way that the two entities become “married” in the public consciousness. One can think of David Duncan’s pictures of Picasso at work or Alfred Wertheimer’s pictures of Elvis backstage in 1956.
The Band Photographs, 1968-1969 (December 2015, Backbeat Books, $44.99), Elliott Landy’s chronicle of the Band from 1968 to 1969, is of such importance. The mutual trust and collaborative partnership was so deep that this collection of photographs forms an intimate portrait of a group of musicians not only engaged in their craft, but captured as they created a new genre of music.
Originally crowdfunded by what would become Kickstarter’s highest funded campaign for a photography book, The Band Photographs, 1968-1969 features more than 200 photographs documenting the making of the Band’s first two albums, Music from Big Pink and The Band. More than half of the photos, drawn from Landy’s archive of more than 12,000 images, have never been published before.
“I designed and created this book entirely in my own studio, with complete creative control,” Landy explained. “Because of this, I was able to lay out the photos as I wanted, in order to create the most harmonious visual book experience and communicate what was going on in front of the camera.
The book also features commentary from John Simon, who produced the Band’s first two albums and was considered the Band’s sixth member, and an introduction by Jonathan Taplin, tour manager for the Band from 1969 to 1972. As Taplin writes in his foreword, “In a sense, these pictures are the photographic analogue of The Band’s song, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’—harkening back to the formal portraiture of Matthew Brady and other late 19th Century photographers. But these pictures are honest and true. They live in the photographic tradition of Robert Frank’s The Americans. Elliott’s images are a record of a wonderfully creative period in America that won’t come again.”
Author of the book The Band Photographs 1968-1968, Elliott Landy, was interviewed by Best Classic Bands. He spoke with Greg Brodsky about how the book came to be and more! Read a snippet of the interview below!
Fans of The Band – and if you’re reading this, we’re obviously preaching to the choir – will absolutely love their new album. That’s photograph album. Elliott Landy: The Band Photographs 1968-1969 is a stunning new collection from the man who chronicled the highly influential rock group with over 12,000 images. The book features hundreds of pictures including many never-before-published.
For a few years, beginning in the late Sixties, Landy photographed many of the biggest names in what is now referred to as classic rock. His images of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and, of course, The Band, are featured on their album covers and his work has appeared on the covers of numerous magazines from Rolling Stone to Life to Saturday Evening Post. He was the official photographer at what is simply known as the Woodstock music festival. Clapton. Hendrix. Baez. The Who. Morrison. Joplin. In the late Sixties, Landy photographed them and more.
And then he simply stopped doing rock photography. More on that later.
In the book, Landy explains how he first shot The Band in 1968 and how his relationship with them began. “I was just starting my career and I wanted to see the Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall. They were Bob Dylan’s band and I wanted to take some pictures that I could sell.” He obtained two press tickets “but when I got to Carnegie Hall, there were signs posted stating ‘No Photographs Allowed.’”
He checked his larger equipment and “started snapping away, clicking my shutter only during the loud passages in order to be as discreet as possible.” As he was about to be caught, he rewound the film, hid it, and reloaded his camera with a new roll. At the behest of Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, security unwittingly took the unused roll and Landy kept the one that contained the images.
Despite the rough start with Dylan’s camp, Grossman had seen Landy’s photos of another one of his clients – Janis Joplin – and, trusting his instincts, offered Landy an assignment to “take some pictures in Toronto.”
“Of who,” he asked.
“They don’t have a name yet,” was the reply.
He and the members of The Band, er, clicked and periodically during the next two years, Landy shot them in a variety of settings. “On Easter weekend, 1968, I went up to Woodstock to photograph them,” he writes. “They were living in a house they jokingly called ‘Big Pink’ (as a humorous reference to how out of place it looked in the woods).”
Elliott Landy, author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, spoke with the Poughkeepsie Journal about his book. Elliott Landy goes into detail about why he decided to release the photos, how long it took to produce, and more! Below is an excerpt of his interview, read what else he had to say and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Beauty, harmony and composition. That is the essence of the work of acclaimed photographer Elliott Landy, known for his iconic images of the underground rock scene in New York City during 1967 and the anti-Vietnam War movement that sparked a schism in the establishment and counterculture movement of that time. And then there was a certain music and arts festival in 1969 called Woodstock that took place in the hills of Sullivan County, where Landy, who was an official photographer for the fest, documented a music scene that defined a generation. A Woodstock resident himself, Landy photographed Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Band, among others during those short two years. The latter is the subject of his latest endeavor, a gallery-quality book of some unpublished and classic photographs of The Band, whose members also called Woodstock home. The photographer recently took the time to talk to the Journal about his new book.
Tell us about the photographs in “The Band Photographs: 1968-1969” and why you decided to release them now?
It’s a collection of the really good photographs that I took back in those years. And by really good, I mean, in my opinion. In those years, there wasn’t so much electronic media as there is now, and in order to publish a picture it had to be accepted by a magazine or published in a book. If I had taken those pictures today, three quarters of them would have been out there on the Internet already. People are hungry for that. If the record album company didn’t use them, they had no use for them. And if there was a magazine article, they would use maybe 20 total for all possible media. Over half of them were never seen before, except by me, as I walked back and forth in my studio, looking at the boxes. I used to look at them every so often and think – these are really nice pictures. Not because they were of The Band; I felt they were good photographs which just happened to be of these guys.
What is the story you want these photographs to tell to readers?
Beauty — I wanted to share the feeling of who The Band was, and the harmony and composition of the images show that. The content is almost secondary, it’s part of the decision to show the picture or not. I’m interested in showing a beautifully composed image and that affects you inside. In today’s world, in my opinion, the idea of harmony in a photo is almost ignored.
How long did it take to produce the new book?
It took about two years for it to come out. I had mentioned it to publishers, and told them the way I wanted to do this book, but there was never any interest. I had 12,000 negatives and slides. I realized that with Kickstarter it would be possible to do it my way. My experience with book publishers is like a see-saw – up and down. I never had a bad experience, but it was never “my book.” I wanted to make an art gallery quality book – what you have in your hands is that. I raised $193,000 from Kickstarter — the highest funded photo book in Kickstarter history. It took that much and more to get this done the way I wanted it.
Were there any revelatory moments putting together the photographs? What stands out most?
The process of doing it and the success I had doing it. In theory, I knew what I wanted to do. One picture to a page – opposing pages – no text or page numbers. What I do is create visual harmony. I wanted people to be able to immerse themselves in the photographs. I didn’t know for certain that I had done it until I saw the printed book and then thought, this is fabulous.
Why did you decide to use a trifold sheet instead of a regular index and captions on the photos?
I decided not to put captions or page numbers on the same page as full-page photos because they would take people away from the power of a pure visual experience. The captions are in the back of the book. I also added a fold-out sheet (trifold sheet) to the Deluxe and Signature editions so that readers would not have to go back and forth to see the caption information while reading the book.
Read the full article HERE.