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“I photographed Hendrix four times,” Wolman recalled. “Two concerts in 1968…, one time with Jann [Wenner] when we interviewed him in his motel room and then another time when we interviewed him with John Burks who wrote for Rolling Stone…” This photo was taken at the Fillmore West.
Curators:
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Duration:
6 Hours
Floor:

Iconic: Baron Wolman
Images of an Era

Baron Wolman’s photographs of musicians in the late Sixties encapsulate an unparalleled time in American history. As the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, Wolman not only documented the era but helped to define it in images for subsequent generations of fans.
About the Exhibit

In 1967, a 21-year-old journalist named Jann Wenner gathered some friends and started the revolutionary rock music publication Rolling Stone, a newsprint magazine that captured the era and defined it in print and pictures. Among the friends that Wenner recruited for the project was Wolman, who had been working as a freelance photographer for magazines like Life and Look. Wolman was hired as the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone.

During his tenure at Rolling Stone, Wolman’s lens captured the icons of 1960s rock and pop, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, the Who, and many others. Wolman’s unique access to his subjects, combined with his keen eye, gave his photographs an up-close-and-personal quality that was rare and unprecedented.

“The chance to be a part of the first days of Rolling Stone came out of the blue,” Wolman says. “I didn't know to what I was agreeing when Jann [Wenner] asked me to join the original staff as the photographer. It turned out to be the perfect fit. It released the latent creative forces as a photographer I didn't know I had, and working with the magazine came to define my career. I loved the music and the musicians and always tried to honor them and respectfully show them in the best possible light. The majority of my photographic output is music-related, although my curiosity about life led me onto many other subjects.”

“I was stunned the first time I saw AC/DC,” Wolman said of this photo taken at one of the recurring Day on the Green concerts. “Standing on the side of the stage, I looked down and saw this strange little guy dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, writhing around the stage on his back with a guitar in his hands. Was he actually playing the guitar? Yes, he was... I immediately loved the energy and the rhythms of AC/DC, and even at this late stage of my life I enjoy listening to them.”
“I was stunned the first time I saw AC/DC,” Wolman said of this photo taken at one of the recurring Day on the Green concerts. “Standing on the side of the stage, I looked down and saw this strange little guy dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, writhing around the stage on his back with a guitar in his hands. Was he actually playing the guitar? Yes, he was... I immediately loved the energy and the rhythms of AC/DC, and even at this late stage of my life I enjoy listening to them.”
This vivid image of Joan Baez perfectly encapsulates Wolman’s creative process. “I loved and respected the musicians; they gave me the music that filled my life, music that I couldn’t make myself. I tried to return to them the same intimacy in my photos that I felt about their music, to give them flattering, honest images of themselves as both musicians and fellow travelers.” Baez, a central figure in the 1960s folk movements, defines rock's integration with social and political activism.
This vivid image of Joan Baez perfectly encapsulates Wolman’s creative process. “I loved and respected the musicians; they gave me the music that filled my life, music that I couldn’t make myself. I tried to return to them the same intimacy in my photos that I felt about their music, to give them flattering, honest images of themselves as both musicians and fellow travelers.” Baez, a central figure in the 1960s folk movements, defines rock's integration with social and political activism.
Wolman’s time at the Chateau Marmont in L.A. with Jeff Beck was unprecedented for the photographer. “It was the only occasion I hung out with a band over a period of time,” he said, “and I did nothing but sit and talk and take pictures... You don’t get that unless you’re on a tour with a band.” Wolman and the band lounged around the Chateau Marmont before heading up to San Francisco, where he would capture them in performance at the Fillmore.
Wolman’s time at the Chateau Marmont in L.A. with Jeff Beck was unprecedented for the photographer. “It was the only occasion I hung out with a band over a period of time,” he said, “and I did nothing but sit and talk and take pictures... You don’t get that unless you’re on a tour with a band.” Wolman and the band lounged around the Chateau Marmont before heading up to San Francisco, where he would capture them in performance at the Fillmore.
Big Mama Thornton was the first artist to record “Hound Dog,” which stayed at Number One on the Billboard R&B chart for seven weeks in 1953, three years before Elvis Presley’s famous 1956 version. Thornton also wrote and recorded the original version of “Ball and Chain”, which later became a hit for Janis Joplin. Here, Wolman captures Thornton’s vivacious personality in a stunning portrait.
Big Mama Thornton was the first artist to record “Hound Dog,” which stayed at Number One on the Billboard R&B chart for seven weeks in 1953, three years before Elvis Presley’s famous 1956 version. Thornton also wrote and recorded the original version of “Ball and Chain”, which later became a hit for Janis Joplin. Here, Wolman captures Thornton’s vivacious personality in a stunning portrait.
“For [this session], the Dead band members and their managers came to my Belvedere Street studio where I photographed them one by one, very simply, against a plain background, in the manner of one of my heroes, Richard Avedon,” Wolman said. “…Jerry openly flashed me his hand with the missing digit in a photograph that has subsequently achieved iconic status, one which I call ‘Jerry Waving.’”
“For [this session], the Dead band members and their managers came to my Belvedere Street studio where I photographed them one by one, very simply, against a plain background, in the manner of one of my heroes, Richard Avedon,” Wolman said. “…Jerry openly flashed me his hand with the missing digit in a photograph that has subsequently achieved iconic status, one which I call ‘Jerry Waving.’”
Eight different images of Morrison from the same shoot were used on the cover of Rolling Stone Issue 5. “Unusual for somebody who had an all-access pass, I was actually in the audience at Winterland when I made the photos of Jim Morrison for Issue No. 5,” Wolman recalled. “My favorite spot from which to shoot was on the stage but on this particular night I fought the tightly packed crowd to get to the front. Never again.”
Eight different images of Morrison from the same shoot were used on the cover of Rolling Stone Issue 5. “Unusual for somebody who had an all-access pass, I was actually in the audience at Winterland when I made the photos of Jim Morrison for Issue No. 5,” Wolman recalled. “My favorite spot from which to shoot was on the stage but on this particular night I fought the tightly packed crowd to get to the front. Never again.”
Wolman took this photo at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. “That was the first time I shot the Rolling Stones,” Wolman said.
Wolman took this photo at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. “That was the first time I shot the Rolling Stones,” Wolman said.
This image was reversed and used on the cover of Rolling Stone Issue 2. “Tina Turner was appearing at the hungry i in San Francisco when I took [this photo],” Wolman said. “The stage was only three feet high and the small round table at which I was sitting was so close to Ike and Tina and the Ikettes that I could see the drops of sweat on their necks and faces.”
This image was reversed and used on the cover of Rolling Stone Issue 2. “Tina Turner was appearing at the hungry i in San Francisco when I took [this photo],” Wolman said. “The stage was only three feet high and the small round table at which I was sitting was so close to Ike and Tina and the Ikettes that I could see the drops of sweat on their necks and faces.”
“Once I see the good shot in the viewfinder, it’s gone,” Wolman said. “The music gets inside me; it’s in my brain. I’m close enough to the stage so that the vibration from the speakers is making my skin tingle, and I’m filling the viewfinder with the musician. It’s almost, not quite, as if I’m the person that’s up there. I just always feel high. I disconnect with the real world and I’m involved in the process.” Wolman took this photo of Albert King performing at the Memphis Blues Festival.
“Once I see the good shot in the viewfinder, it’s gone,” Wolman said. “The music gets inside me; it’s in my brain. I’m close enough to the stage so that the vibration from the speakers is making my skin tingle, and I’m filling the viewfinder with the musician. It’s almost, not quite, as if I’m the person that’s up there. I just always feel high. I disconnect with the real world and I’m involved in the process.” Wolman took this photo of Albert King performing at the Memphis Blues Festival.
“It’s a bit strange that the only time I photographed Chuck Berry was not onstage but as he was giving a lecture at UC Berkeley. Nevertheless, I’ve always found something compelling about this figure of the man where he appears to be something more than a musician. As if being a musician were not enough.”
“It’s a bit strange that the only time I photographed Chuck Berry was not onstage but as he was giving a lecture at UC Berkeley. Nevertheless, I’ve always found something compelling about this figure of the man where he appears to be something more than a musician. As if being a musician were not enough.”
To shoot Janis Joplin for Rolling Stone, Wolman “walked with my cameras to her nearby flat in the Haight-Ashbury where she lived with her cat and dog. I, too, lived in the Haight where I had turned two bedrooms of our three bedroom house into a photo studio: the same studio in which Janis subsequently gave an unforgettable full-out performance for me and my camera in what I have come to call the ‘concert for one.’”
To shoot Janis Joplin for Rolling Stone, Wolman “walked with my cameras to her nearby flat in the Haight-Ashbury where she lived with her cat and dog. I, too, lived in the Haight where I had turned two bedrooms of our three bedroom house into a photo studio: the same studio in which Janis subsequently gave an unforgettable full-out performance for me and my camera in what I have come to call the ‘concert for one.’”
“I photographed Hendrix four times,” Wolman recalled. “Two concerts in 1968…, one time with Jann [Wenner] when we interviewed him in his motel room and then another time when we interviewed him with John Burks who wrote for Rolling Stone…” This photo was taken at the Fillmore West.
“I photographed Hendrix four times,” Wolman recalled. “Two concerts in 1968…, one time with Jann [Wenner] when we interviewed him in his motel room and then another time when we interviewed him with John Burks who wrote for Rolling Stone…” This photo was taken at the Fillmore West.
“I spent a delightful afternoon drinking tea with Joni Mitchell in her home in Laurel Canyon, the dwelling Graham Nash was allegedly describing when he wrote the lyrics to ‘Our House.'
“I spent a delightful afternoon drinking tea with Joni Mitchell in her home in Laurel Canyon, the dwelling Graham Nash was allegedly describing when he wrote the lyrics to ‘Our House.'
“In December 1967, Little Richard and his band played a concert in the TV studios of KPIX in San Francisco and I was there with my cameras. The ever-expressive face of the former gospel singer…was a photographer’s dream subject.”
“In December 1967, Little Richard and his band played a concert in the TV studios of KPIX in San Francisco and I was there with my cameras. The ever-expressive face of the former gospel singer…was a photographer’s dream subject.”
About Baron Wolman

Born in Columbus, Ohio on June 25, 1937, Baron Wolman became interested in photography while serving in the Army as a counter-intelligence officer in Berlin. There, Wolman sold his first photo essay for publication, a story about life behind the then-new Berlin Wall. After his discharge from the military, he moved to California to pursue a career as a photojournalist.

During Wolman’s fast-paced tenure at Rolling Stone, his lens captured the icons of 1960s rock and pop: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison and many more. Wolman’s unique access to his subjects, combined with his keen eye, gave his photos an intimate, direct and up-close-and-personal quality that was rare and unprecedented.

“I see myself as a kind of voyeur,” Wolman said. “I’m happiest when I’m invisible and watching. …I’m a chameleon and can adapt myself to the situation, and that, to me, is one of the gifts that I was given naturally and that’s how you get honest pictures.”

Wolman left Rolling Stone in late 1970, going on to start his own fashion magazine, Rags, and to become a pilot in order to hone his skills as an aerial photographer. He later founded Squarebooks Publishing and worked on numerous and diverse photography projects, including the 2011 book Every Picture Tells a Story…Baron Wolman: The Rolling Stone Years. 

“I look at life like this huge buffet table,” said Wolman. “And I’m not going to stop at the appetizers. I want to eat from the whole table. If you do that, you pay the price in some way, but you get to taste every flavor. …I have had such a cool life.”

All photos are from the Collection of Baron Wolman

We were honored to create this exhibit with legendary photographer Baron Wolman; his stories and legacy from behind the lens will live on to impact fans of all generations. His body of work will be celebrated both inside the museum and digitally. It is through his images that we are reminded of the power of rock & roll and we thank him for sharing his stories and work with us. 

The Facebook post below is from his personal account, written as his public farewell due to a terminal illness.

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