the Backroom

Rolling Stone Celebrates 50 Years of Publishing with Lavish Photo Book

by Chris Murray on June 15, 2017  |  Leave a Comment »

I just bought a copy of my favorite photo book of this year, 50 Years of Rolling Stone, from Abrams. This large format book presents a selection of brilliant images from Rolling Stone over the past six decades, commencing with the 1960s. Along with photographs on album covers, Rolling Stone magazine was the biggest influence on my championing significant photographs documenting musical artists at Govinda Gallery starting in 1982. The RS book also features a selection of terrific essays from David Fricke, P.J. O’Rourke, Jann Wenner, Tom Wolfe, Mikal Gilmore and more.

"Dead on the Steps", The Grateful Dead, 710 Ashbury Street, San Francisco, CA, October 1967 Dead on the Steps. The Grateful Dead, 710 Ashbury Street, San Francisco, CA, October 1967. Photograph by Baron Wolman.

It was my good fortune to have the first exhibitions at Govinda Gallery for Rolling Stone‘s three chief photographers, Baron Wolman, Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger. It was incredibly exciting to present these three photographers to the public in a gallery venue for the first time and to be able to offer prints of their compelling photos to collectors. The public came in droves to these exhibitions, as did the media.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. Yoko Ono and John Lennon, New York City, December 1980. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

Along with the three chief Rolling Stone photographers, I also had first exhibitions for many other amazing photographers published in Rolling Stone, including Herb Greene, Linda McCartney, Jim Marshall, Bob Seidemann, Joel Brodsky, Michael Halsband, Alan Tannenbaum, Anton Corbijn, Matthew Ralston, Danny Clinch, Michael Cooper, Barry Feinstein, Firooz Zahedi, Bob Gruen, Gered Mankowitz, Eddie Kramer, Lynn Goldsmith, Harry Benson, Mick Rock, Daniel Kramer, Glen Friedman, Amalie Rothschild, Frank Stefanko, Kate Simon, Jonathan Mannion and Ted Russell, among others.

Bob Dylan, New Orleans. Photograph by Mark Seliger.
Bob Dylan, New York City, 1995. Photograph by Mark Seliger.

Donovan was the first interview in Rolling Stone published in its inaugural issue in November 1967, with his friend John Lennon on the cover. Donovan shows his artwork with Govinda Gallery. I love this portrait of Donovan by Baron Wolman.

Donovan, Los Angeles, September 1969. Photograph by Baron Wolman. Donovan, Los Angeles, September 1969. Photograph by Baron Wolman.

Congratulations, Rolling Stone, on 50 years of publishing a terrific magazine.

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Patti Smith: American Artist, and Frank Stefanko

by Chris Murray on June 5, 2017  |  1 Comment »

Patti Smith American Artist Patti Smith: American Artist.

A new paperback edition of Patti Smith: American Artist, featuring Frank Stefanko’s beautiful photos of Patti, was just published and is available through Amazon and bookstores everywhere. The new edition features a foreward by Patti Smith, an introduction by Lenny Kaye and an afterword by the book’s editor, Chris Murray.

Govinda Gallery held the first exhibition of Frank Stefanko’s classic photos of Patti. Stefanko’s photographs of Patti Smith are available through Govinda Gallery.

The Portal, Frank Stefanko, New York, 1974. Patti Smith, New York, 1974. Photograph by Frank Stefanko.

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Bob Dylan, Ted Russell and BBC News

by Chris Murray on June 1, 2017  |  Leave a Comment »

Check out this fantastic BBC News video with Ted Russell at his exhibition of early Dylan photos in NYC. It is the third most watched video on BBC News at the moment.

This weekend is the last chance to see the exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery on West 26th Street.

Contact Sheet Copyright Ted Russell.

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Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan!

by Chris Murray on May 22, 2017  |  3 Comments »

A fine way to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday today would be to see Ted Russell’s photographs of Dylan on exhibit at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City.

Exhibition entrance at Steven Kasher Gallery. Exhibition entrance at Steven Kasher Gallery.

Claude Gassian and Chris Murray at Ted Russell's exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery. French photographer Claude Gassian and Chris Murray at Ted Russell’s exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery.

Several days ago Kasher hosted an amazing panel discussion on Dylan’s early days in Greenwich Village that featured John Cohen, Bob Yellin of The Greenbriar Boys, Sean Wilentz and Ted Russell. It was a remarkable conversation between four extraordinary, creative individuals. It was exciting to hear first-hand accounts and stories about the scene in Greenwich Village in the early ’60s and Bob Dylan. Steve Kasher moderated the discussion, and his gallery is a very hip place to be. Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964 continues at Kasher Gallery until June 3rd.

Panel discussion at Steven Kasher Gallery. John Cohen, Ted Russell, Bob Yellin and Sean Wilentz.

Ted Russell speaking during the panel discussion. Ted Russell speaking.

Ted Russell signing books at the panel discussion. Ted Russell signing Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964.

Ted Russell and Carlotta Hester. Ted Russell and Carlotta Hester.

Ted Russell and Chris Murray at the panel discussion. Ted Russell and Chris Murray.

Ted Russell’s exhibition in Havana at Fototeca de Cuba, which recently concluded, was received in Cuba with great acclaim. Cuba has an outstanding legacy of music and poetry that continues to thrive. Havana and Fototeca de Cuba were a remarkable atmosphere in which to present Ted Russell’s photographs of Dylan as a young poet and musician.

Please enjoy these two very short videos and some photographs from the opening at Fototeca de Cuba in Old Havana. Thank you to all our friends in Cuba who made the exhibition possible and to all of our friends who came from America to see the exhibition in Havana.

Jeffrey DeLuarentis, Carlotta Hester and Andrew Umhau at the opening of Ted Russell's exhibition at Fototeca de Cuba. Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Carlotta Hester and Andrew Umhau at the opening of Ted Russell’s exhibition at Fototeca de Cuba.

Conchita, who works at Fototeca de Cuba. Conchita, Gallery Assistant at Fototeca de Cuba.

Alex, Chris Murray and Jessica Fuller. Alex, Chris Murray, co-author of Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964, and Jessica Fuller from Rizzoli.

Tom Meyer and Luis Manuel Molina. Tom Meyer and Luis Manuel Molina.

Luis Gomez. Luis and Ruscy Gomez.

Chris Murray and Guille. Chris Murray and Guille Vilar. “It’s only rock & roll, but I like it.”

Emilio and Edimary Perez. Emilio and Edimary Perez.

Murray Family at Fototeca. The Duffy family from New York at Fototeca. Andy Rapoport and Steve Kasher photobombing.

Leonardo Lazaro from Parque Central.

The Capital Gang. The Capital Gang. Claire Hines, Rosemary Kilkenny, Carlotta Hester, Chris Murray, Tom Meyer and Virginia Satterley.

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John Waters Launches ‘Make Trouble’ in Washington at Halcyon House

by Chris Murray on May 1, 2017  |  1 Comment »

It was great to be at the Washington launch of Make Trouble, John Waters’ new book. John was interviewed by Septime Webre, who is bringing terrific programming to Halcyon Stage. There was a lively Q&A after, and everyone had a chance to meet John and have him sign their book. John is one of the most creative and original artists I know. We are fortunate to have his genius among us!

Make Trouble

Chris Murray and John Waters
Chris Murray with his friend John Waters.

John Waters at Halcyon Stage
John Waters in conversation with Septime Webre at Halcyon House in Georgetown.

Septime Webre and John Waters
Halcyon Stage’s Septime Webre with John.

All photos by Carlotta Hester.

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New York Times Feature Story on Ted Russell and His Early Dylan Photos

by Chris Murray on May 1, 2017  |  Comments Off on New York Times Feature Story on Ted Russell and His Early Dylan Photos

The New York Times

Bob Dylan’s Early Days in New York
By John Leland Apr. 17, 2017

“It’s kind of a long story,” Ted Russell said the other day, in a voice that seemed to mean it. In 1961, Mr. Russell, who was then a freelance photographer, got a call from a publicist at Columbia Records about an unusual young folk singer the label had just signed. According to the publicist, the singer “was riding freight trains and that kind of stuff,” Mr. Russell, 87, said from his home in Forest Hills, Queens. “Had a hobo lifestyle.”

He was Bob Dylan.

The publicist invited Mr. Russell to a gig at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village and gave him some demo records by Mr. Dylan. “I knew absolutely nothing about folk or folk music,” Mr. Russell admitted. “I was at the time, and still am, something of a jazz aficionado, and I was hanging out in jazz clubs. My speed was Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.”

Still, he said, it seemed like a promising story. He photographed the 20-year-old singer performing at the club and then, a few days later, at Mr. Dylan’s apartment on West Fourth Street with his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo. Mr. Dylan had just received a glowing review in The New York Times. Mr. Russell pitched the story to Life magazine.

“I wanted to do an essay on the trials and tribulations of an up-and-coming folk singer trying to make it in the big city,” he said. “They gave me a big yawn, not the slightest interest.”

Dylan playing a record

Bob Dylan playing an album on the record player, 161 W. 4th St., New York, 1961. Credit Ted Russell/Polaris/Steven Kasher Gallery

Instead, he went to The Saturday Evening Post, where the editors were intrigued. “There were a bunch of them sitting around the big oak table in the conference room, and they were all very interested and excited about the whole thing, after they looked at the pictures and saw what he looked like and how he dressed,” Mr. Russell recalled. “And they said, ‘Play the records.’ When I put on the first record, they looked very dismayed. They said to me, ‘Are you playing it at the right speed?’ I tried it on 33, and then I tried it on 45, and they didn’t like that, either. Then I tried it on 78, and it sounded like the Chipmunks. They said no, they turned it down.”

The photos went into a file drawer. Mr. Russell went to Europe on other assignments. He photographed Mr. Dylan twice more, for Life in 1963 and 1964. By then Mr. Dylan was a star, but Mr. Russell still did not think much about him. The 1961 shots remained unseen for more than 30 years, until the Sygma agency started distributing them.

They are now available in a book published by Rizzoli and an exhibition at the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea starting April 20. The early pictures show Dylan aware of the camera but pretending not to be, in the same way he had made up stories about riding the rails. By the 1964 images, which Mr. Russell made while Mr. Dylan was being interviewed by a Life reporter, the singer gave up the pretense. He made the pose part of his pose.

What was he like back then? Mr. Russell said he did not know.

“I can’t tell you much about it because my style of shooting is to be a fly on the wall,” he said. “In the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, I want to be an observer, not a participant. I told them to pretend I’m not here, just ignore me, and that’s exactly what they did. So there was virtually no conversation.

“When I’m looking through the viewfinder, I’m oblivious to anything else. I didn’t hear it, I wasn’t interested. My job was to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open, which is what I did. So I can’t tell you anything about him, really. If you gave me a million dollars right now, I couldn’t remember one word that was between us.”

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The Smiths Exhibition in Los Angeles Opens this Week

by Chris Murray on May 1, 2017  |  1 Comment »

This Thursday the first exhibition in Los Angeles of Nalinee Darmrong’s photographs of The Smiths opens on Sunset Blvd at Mr Musichead Gallery. This is the first major exhibition of Nalinee’s images of the Smiths. Nalinee will be attending the opening to sign copies of her book The Smiths, recently published by Rizzoli.

All of our friends in L.A. are invited to the exhibition, co-organized by Govinda Gallery.

The Smiths Invitation

The Smiths The Queen is Dead

The Smiths Clickimin Centre

The Smiths flowers

All photos Copyright Nalinee Darmrong.

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Dylan Exhibitions Open in Havana and New York City

by Chris Murray on April 13, 2017  |  1 Comment »

Ted Russell’s exhibition of photos of Bob Dylan opens next Thursday evening, April 20th, at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City. This is the first exhibition in New York of Russell’s remarkable photos of Dylan’s first years in Greenwich Village. Russell will be at the opening to sign copies of his book, Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964. Steven Kasher Gallery is at 515 W 26th St and the opening is from 6-8 pm.

Bob Dylan coming up the stairs, Gerde's Folk City. Photograph by Ted Russell. Bob Dylan coming up the stairs, Gerde’s Folk City, 1961. Photograph by Ted Russell.

I just returned from Havana and the launch of Russell’s Dylan exhibition at Cuba’s national gallery of photography…Fototeca de Cuba. The exhibition opening was a great celebration of Bob Dylan and Ted Russell’s photographs. I will be posting a number of blogs from the exhibition in Cuba, but here are a few photos from opening night and a video of young Cuban dancers performing in front of Fototeca de Cuba.

Banner Balcony of Fototeca de Cuba with Ted Russell banner. Photograph by Carlotta Hester.

Visitors at Fototeca de Cuba Visitors at Fototeca de Cuba. Photograph by Carlotta Hester.

Exhibition installation at Fototeca de Cuba Exhibition installation photo at Fototeca de Cuba. Photograph by Carlotta Hester.

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Ireland’s Prime Minister Digs Bruce Springsteen

by Chris Murray on April 13, 2017  |  2 Comments »

Just before St. Patrick’s Day last month, I had the occasion to sit with Enda Kenny, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and his charming wife Fionnuala, at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, thanks to my friends Billy Martin and Joey Filosa. I gave the Prime Minister a copy of Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen, the book I edited featuring Frank Stefanko’s photographs of Springsteen with an introduction by Bruce himself. Stefanko’s images of Springsteen are well known from his photos on the covers of Bruce’s albums The River and Darkness on the Edge of Town, as well as on the cover of Bruce’s recently published autobiography, Born to Run.

 Chris Murray and Enda Kenny, Martin's Tavern, Georgetown. Photo by Carlotta Hester/Govinda Gallery Archive. Chris Murray and Enda Kenny, Martin’s Tavern, Georgetown. Photo by Carlotta Hester/Govinda Gallery Archive.

Prime Minister Kenny was delighted to have Frank’s book and told me that at Springsteen’s last concert in Dublin at Croke Park, which the Prime Minister attended, he was caught on film playing air guitar to one of Bruce’s songs, and that the video went viral.

Fionnuala Kenny and Carlotta Hester Fionnuala Kenny and Carlotta Hester, Martin’s Tavern, Georgetown. Photo by Chris Murray/Govinda Gallery Archive.

Frank Stefanko’s photos are available through Govinda Gallery.

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30th Anniversary of Andy Warhol’s Memorial Service

by Chris Murray on March 30, 2017  |  5 Comments »

Chris Murray and Chris Makos at the memorial mass for Andy Warhol, New York City, 1987. Peter Wise, Chris Makos and Chris Murray entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral, April 1st, 1987.
© Christophe von Hohenberg.

Thirty years ago today a memorial mass was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Andy Warhol, who had passed on just about one month before the service. I was invited to the memorial and went with my friends Chris Makos and Peter Wise. We sat behind Yoko Ono.

Bulletin Program for Andy Warhol memorial service.

Warhol was a major inspiration in my opening Govinda Gallery, and he had six exhibitions at Govinda. Andy and his circle of artists, photographers, writers, editors, collectors, art dealers and friends had much to do with Govinda Gallery’s success.

Jane Holzer, St. Patrick's Cathedral, 1987. Warhol superstar ‘Baby Jane’ Holzer, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, April 1st, 1987. © Christophe von Hohenberg.

I met Andy several years before I opened Govinda in 1975 through my college chums Michael Netter, Bob Colacello and Glenn O’Brien who all worked for Andy.

Bob Colacello was the editor of Interview Magazine and with Bob and Interview photo editor Robert Hayes I began organizing and exhibiting many of the photographers featured in Interview including Chris Makos, Gerard Malanga, Greg Gorman, Michael Halsband, Peter Strongwater, Erica Lennard, Firooz Zahedi, Herb Ritts, David Seidner and many more.

When Andy visited Washington I would drive him around town, usually with Bob Colacello or Chris Makos, to parties, gallery openings, artist studios, collectors’ homes, museums and his hotel. Sometimes he would relax in the back room of Govinda Gallery, which this blog, The Back Room, is named after. Andy was the ‘patron saint’ of Govinda Gallery.

Chris Murray and Andy Warhol at Govinda Gallery, 1985. Chris Murray and Andy Warhol at Govinda Gallery, 1985. © J. Virgilio.

I loved Andy, and was fortunate to exhibit his art at Govinda. This post is a remembrance of one of the great artists of our time and of someone I was grateful to call a friend.

Chris Murray, Andy Warhol, and Chris Makos. Chris Murray, Andy Warhol, and Chris Makos, Morgan’s Hotel, NYC. © Govinda Gallery Archive.

I want to acknowledge some of Andy’s associates and friends who were supportive of the work I did at Govinda Gallery: Bob Colacello, Chris Makos, Vincent Fremont, Paige Powell, Fred Hughes, Sylvia Miles, Robert Hayes, Jane Holzer, Michael Netter, Candy Darling, Glenn O’Brien, Ron Feldman, Peter Wise, Benjamin Liu, Mark Balet, Gael Love, Gerard Malanga, Brigid Berlin, Tony Shafrazi, Jackie Curtis and Eric Emerson.

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