The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil its latest exhibit, Just Can’t Get Enough: The Photography of Robert Alford, on Wednesday, September 19, in the Museum’s Patty, Jay and Kizzie Baker Gallery. The exhibit features images by Robert Alford and offers a snapshot into the world of some of the most influential and successful artists from the last three decades of rock and roll.
Related event: An Evening with Robert Alford on September 19 at 7 p.m.
A leading music photographer, Robert Alford has had his work featured in Creem, Rolling Stone and People magazines and on television, album covers and liner notes. The extensive list of musicians he has photographed reads like a "who's who" of popular music, from AC/DC to ZZ Top.
Alford, born in Denver, Colorado, in 1954, was raised in suburban Detroit, where he lives and works today. He received his first camera at age seven, and by his early teens, Alford was photographing cars and drag races at a local drag strip. It was a Sly and the Family Stone concert in 1970 that Alford shot that transformed him from photographer to rock photographer. By 1974, he was contributing to Creem magazine and soon became the publication’s sole staff photographer. Through his assignments at Creem, Alford developed close and lasting relationships with many artists, including Cheap Trick, John Mellencamp and ZZ Top. He art directed several videos and albums for ZZ Top and shot album cover photos for the band, as well. Alford continued to contribute to Creem until it stopped publishing in the Nineties. His photos have appeared in numerous books, including Rock Style by Tommy Hilfiger, Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin by Jon Bream, AC/DC: High Voltage Rock and Roll by Phil Sutcliffe and Star Guitars by Dave Hunter and Billy Gibbons. Alford has worked with more than 500 artists and performers and currently operates rockphotoarchive.com. He continues to work and live in the Detroit area.
Highlights from the exhibit include:
· Ben Orr of the Cars, 1978
The first of many Cars concerts that Alford shot, this photo was taken on the band’s first national tour after the release of its debut album.
· The B-52’s, 1980
Taken in the dressing room at Harpo’s in Detroit, a club known more for hard rock and heavy metal than new music, this image became a favorite of the B-52’s.
· Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1981
Alford first met ZZ Top in 1974, when the band opened for T. Rex at the Michigan Concert Palace in Detroit and built a close friendship soon thereafter, even traveling with the band on tour and around the world. This particular image is a shot of Billy Gibbons in front of a horse-drawn Ford Model A wagon in Mexico.
· The Clash, 1982
While showing the Clash around Detroit, Alford and the band ended up at the Motown Museum, which, at that time, was only open one day a week. Inspired by the sounds of Motown, the band took a private tour of the facility.
· The Police, 1983
The photo Alford took of the Police in 1983 came about after he and Andy Summers spent the day at Classic Camera, a shop on the East Side of Detroit. Summers bought an Italian-made camera from the 1960s shaped like a banana. At the shoot with the entire band later in the day, Summers left the camera around his neck for the photograph.
· INXS, 1984
Alford photographed the band after receiving custom hair styles from a salon in Ann Arbor called Cutting Edge.
· The Go-Go’s, 1984
Always fun to work with thanks to their outgoing rock and roll attitude, Alford enjoyed working with the Go-Go’s frequently.
· Iggy Pop, 1992
The photo of Iggy Pop was taken from a session for the re-launch of Creem magazine. Shot backstage at the State Theatre in Detroit at the time vinyl was being replaced by CDs, the shoot was particularly nostalgic. It was also an homage to a photo session that Andy Kent did with Iggy Pop in the early Seventies that Alford always admired.
· Billy Idol, 1984
Shot during his second session with Billy Idol, this shot includes a background made of three layers of slashed paper and Mylar to create a layered backdrop effect – one of the first times Alford used a handmade backdrop in a photograph.
· Prince, 1993
Prince preferred being photographed while onstage, where Alford considers him to be a “genius” during his performances.
This exhibit will be open through May 2013.