Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio

August 20

12 min. to read

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A half-century as a photojournalist to the stars has put Glen Craig lens to face with a veritable wing of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Glen Craig is collaborating with Skylum Software as he is making his transition from analog to digital photographyGlen is using Luminar to not only re-imagine his film images and legacy work that include his famous Miles Davis series, but also realize his vision for his digital work including a number of photo series shot with the Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras and G Master lenses.

We will feature his new, Luminar-edited digital images in the coming days. Meanwhile, check out his life and career as a rock'n'roll photographer.

Very few people who were around for the first generation of rock and roll megastars are still around to tell the tale with any degree of clarity. Glen Craig can not only regale you with stories of rock greats, he has the pictures to prove it. A half-century as a photojournalist to the stars has put Craig face to face, and occasionally lens to face, with a veritable wing of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

“Working with musicians all my life, you develop respect and they have respect for you,” Craig says of his ability to capture these rock gods at work. “When you’re working in discreet moments like the recording studio, you’re working around pianos and amps and stuff like that. You’re a fly on the wall. You’re not disengaging the musical process. You’re part of it. And that’s what people respected of me, the ‘He’s there, but he’s not there’ kind of thing. You’re waiting not as the stalker, but as the onlooker, for the decisive moment of the photograph.”

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image1Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and B.B. King, Chicago, IL, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Those decisive moments can be found all over Craig’s towering body of work, which he first began to cultivate as a staff photographer at Hullaballoo Magazine in the 1960’s. His first big rock and roll assignment: A Beach Boys tour. “The time period of the striped shirts,” Craig recalls of the band’s one-time stage wardrobe. “They were touring in the summer of 1966, and I did a lot of the East Coast states. This was at the time when Brian (Wilson) was kind of flaky. Bruce Johnston stepped in to play and also Glen Campbell was in the band at that time as well.”

That was just the beginning of the journey for Craig, who also benefitted greatly from his working for famed United States music promoter Sid Bernstein, who Craig considered a mentor and father, schooling him on the business side of the music industry. Bernstein was the man who brought many of the most famous British Invasion acts to tour the United States for the first time, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and a pair of groups who made for an odd double billing, as the photographer recalls. “Dig this pairing,” Craig laughs. “The Who and Herman’s Hermits. It was like a conflict of interests.”

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image2Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones, San Francisco, CA, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Craig became good friends with Keith Moon, The Who’s legendarily gonzo drummer, and also witnessed that band’s reaction when one of their rivals released a masterpiece. “We were sitting on the tour plane in New York City waiting for takeoff,” he says. “Peter (Townsend), Roger (Daltrey), and Keith had brought a test pressing with them from Paul McCartney of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We all heard it for the first time on one of the cheesy portable record players.”

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image3The Beatles, London, 1967  © Glen Craig, 1967

In addition to hearing the music, Craig also had the privilege of witnessing some first-class rock and roll shenanigans. Remembering his time with The Rascals, he says, “There were two pranksters in the group constantly doing stuff. One night we were in Atlantic Recording studios, which was right there on Columbus Circle where there was this statue of Columbus in a fountain. So Eddie Brigati Jr., the lead singer of the group, goes to the supermarket and buys a bunch of laundry detergent and he dumps it into the fountain there. The thing was overflowing with bubbles coming out of the fountain. There were a lot of crazy moments to relieve the pressure of the touring and recording.”

Craig was part of a group of photographers from that era whose outsized personalities matched the magnificence of their work. He talks about the Rolling Stone legend Jim Marshall and how he prevented getting stiffed for his work. ‘Jim used to tell me, “Man, they’ve got to respect your work. Anybody who f***s with you, you have to deal with.’ And Jim used to go around with his little friend in his pocket. He would go to an art director and say, ‘You used my picture, f***in pay me. Go into the accountant and write me out a check right now.’ And he’d pull his little friend out of his pocket. His little friend was his ‘piece.’”

Craig’s work with the Leica camera is legendary, but he isn’t resting on his laurels, with a number of projects currently in the hopper. Still, he bemoans how both photography and the music industry have been marginalized by large corporations who don’t properly respect the artists behind the art. Case in point: the time and effort he would put into choosing each shot to be included in his stories.

“My thing is ‘Does this picture stand up on its own?’” he says. “And then, if this is going to be a series of reportage, ‘How do they work together? Do they tell a story? Do they mean something? Do they loosely get married or do they come together?’ That comes with discipline, experience and being around photographers.

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image4Iggy Pop, The Stooges, The Hit Factory, NYC, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image5Iggy Pop, Ann Arbor, MI, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Interestingly enough, what Craig says is his most memorable moment with a musician is memorialized by a picture he will never display, one of jazz legend Miles Davis. “One day he called me up, and he says, ‘OK, meet me over at Columbia. We’re going to listen to tapes from last night from the Filmore concert.’ So we’re sitting around and Teo (Macero), his longtime producer, put the tapes up, and Miles is on the board. And he was grunting and listening. And then he took out this little bag of cocaine and he started doing lines of cocaine on the mixing board. It was like, I had the camera, and he just looked at me like, ‘OK, it’s cool. Take the shots, man.’ Out of respect, those shots have been bundled and put away.”

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image6Miles Davis, Gleason’s Gym, NYC, June, 1970 © Glen Craig, 1970

The trust that Davis displayed on that occasion could only be bestowed upon a photographer of Glen Craig’s reputation and talent. His body of work is nothing less than the story of rock and roll flashing before our eyes.

See more of Glen Craig's work below. To purchase some of his Rock and Roll photos, visit the Morrison Hotel Gallery


Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image7Gene Vincent Portrait , NYC, June, 1970 © Glen Craig, 1970

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image8B.B. King,Guitar Star Reflection, Los Angeles, CA, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image9Miles Davis, NYC, 1970 © Glen Craig, 1970

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image10Miles Davis, Fillmore East, NYC, June 17, 1970 © Glen Craig, 1970

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image11The Who on the set of Ready, Steady, Go! 1967 © Glen Craig, 1967

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image12The Stooges, Ann Arbor, MI, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image13Iggy Pop, NYC, 1969 © Glen Craig, 1969

Glen Craig and His Rock and Roll Portfolio Image14Tina Turner, NYC, 1970 © Glen Craig, 1970

Images courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery and Glen Craig

Glen Craig is collaborating with Skylum Software as he is making his transition from analog to digital photographyGlen is using Luminar to not only re-imagine his film images and legacy work that include his famous Miles Davis series, but also realize his vision for his digital work including a number of photo series shot with the Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras and G Master lenses.

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