Rock and roll legends live life hard and they live life fast. In the good old days, before everyone went to concerts smartphones held aloft, this made catching them on camera all the more tricky. Yet this never stopped talented photographers giving it a go. For many it was a mission. Not only were concerts often culturally significant, but – given the propensity of outlandish performers to die young – you might never have the chance to capture these legends again. In this new series, we take a look at the story behind some of music’s most iconic photos, ones which showcase both the moment and the musicians perfectly.
Mad for it
First up Iggy Pop. Years before Marilyn Manson, Ziggy Stardust and even Alice Cooper, there was Iggy Pop, the crazed alter-ego of James Newell Osterberg, Jr. Happy slashing his chest with glass and diving headfirst into crowds, Iggy released a stream of albums, which didn’t stand chance in hell of landing a song on the radio. He was playing punk 10 years before it even had a name, and rocked so hard in the 1970s that he ended up in a mental hospital.
“That’s Peanut Butter?”
Iggy Pop is notorious for many reasons but this shot, from Cincinnati in 1970, shows a total showman at work! Whilst the Stooges belted out ‘T.V. Eye’, Iggy headed off into – and onto – the crowd! It is an audacious, fun and incredibly talented piece of theatre and this photograph captures all of it perfectly. Iggy eventually re-appeared from the crowd smearing himself in peanut butter. Rock and roll, eh…?
Adam Monaghan is a British art historian and photojournalist. His photos and words have been published in many places including Time Out and The Guardian. You can find examples of his work at his blog, Photos from my world.