The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil its latest exhibit, Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock, on Monday, February 14, in the Rock Hall’s Patty, Jay and Kizzie Baker Gallery. The exhibit, featuring images by photographer Anastasia Pantsios, offers a snapshot into the world of some of the most influential women in rock and roll over the last four decades.
When Anastasia Pantsios photographed her first concert — a free concert by Jefferson Airplane in Chicago’s Grant Park in 1969 — women were a rarity in rock bands. At the same time, women were trying to elbow their way into the burgeoning ranks of rock photographers, led by Rolling Stone’s Annie Leibovitz. In Cleveland, Pantsios was one of three women who formed Kaleyediscope Photography in 1978 to market the photos they were shooting of musicians. As women became more numerous and prominent on rock and roll stages in the Eighties and beyond, Pantsios developed a special interest in the visual study of the changing and diverse ways they presented themselves while making music. Girls on Film covers her 40 years of shooting rock’s talented women, starting with Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and continuing through contemporary star Gwen Stefani.
Highlights from the exhibit include:
· Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, Grant Park, Chicago: May 1969
The first concert Pantsios photographed was this free daytime show in Chicago’s Grant Park — pre-Woodstock, very pre-Altamont, and everything idyllic and rife with possibility. Late-Sixties, early-Seventies rock wasn’t very open to women, and the few out there tended to fall into two slots: pristine, long-haired folkie girl or belting blues mama. Grace Slick was neither of those — the most singular female personality of the era.
· Patti Smith, Agency Recording, Cleveland: January 27, 1976
This photograph was shot by Pantsios at Agency Recording, upstairs from the old Agora in Cleveland on East 24th Street. In this photo, Patti Smith is listening to a playback after a show. Her version of the Who’s “My Generation” from this show appeared on the B-side of her single “Gloria” later in 1976.
· Joan Jett, Music Hall, Cleveland: April 10, 1982
Joan Jett emerged from the ashes of the Runaways to have a brief burst of solo success in the early Eighties. She didn’t rely on sex appeal and blended in with her band, and often she was cited as a touchstone by the riot-grrrl bands of the Nineties.
· Tina Turner, Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio: June 18, 1984
Few breakthroughs of the Eighties were more surprising than the grand-scale comeback of Tina Turner when her 1984 album, Private Dancer, vaulted her to superstardom. Known from the Ike and Tina days as a hot live performer, she was arguably more prepared than anyone who ever enjoyed such meteoric success to command headlining slots in arenas like Richfield Coliseum and amphitheaters like Blossom Music Center.