the Backroom



Happy Birthday Ted Russell!

by Chris Murray on January 10, 2021  |  106 Comments »
Dylan at his typewriter, 161 W 4th St. 1964. Photo by Ted Russell.

Today is photographer Ted Russell’s birthday. Born in England in 1930, Ted Russell went on to become one of the great photographers at LIFE magazine, the ‘gold standard’ for photo journalism. Russell came to New York City in 1952 “with four cameras and $200.” In 1961 Russell took the very first professional photographs of Bob Dylan, at his apartment in Greenwich Village and at Gerde’s Folk City nightclub.

James Baldwin and Bob Dylan, December 13, 1963, New York City. Photo by Ted Russell.

It was my good fortune to come to know Ted Russell and edit and have published his book of Dylan photos, Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964 (Rizzoli). It has also been my great pleasure to curate and organize exhibitions of Russell’s photographs of Bob Dylan in museums and galleries in Dublin, Los Angeles, Havana, New York City and Washington D.C., and with more to come.

Happy Birthday Ted!

Ted Russell’s photographs are available from Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

Dr. John and His New Year’s Eve Set List

by Chris Murray on December 31, 2020  |  101 Comments »

It was New Years Eve 2013 when I saw Dr. John perform at Hamilton Live in D.C. Wanda Jackson also was on the bill. They brought in 2014 with style. What a great set of songs he delivered!

Dr. John’s New Year’s Eve set list from the Hamilton Live
Dr. John, 1970. Copyright Barrie Wentzell.

Happy New Year!

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“Luna Love” Launch and Exclusive Video

by Chris Murray on December 19, 2020  |  16 Comments »

Enjoy this lovely video of Donovan with his wife and muse Linda, launching Linda’s just published book Luna Love, along with their friends Marina and Michael Cowdray.

Linda presenting the Number One copy of the Handmade Monumental Series of 13, to dear friends Lord Michael & Lady Marina Cowdray in Windsor, England.
Michael, Marina, Linda and Donovan, four friends who travelled through the Himilayas together to Little Tibet, to build a school to help save Tibetan Culture in Ladakh, Northern India.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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“Luna Love” and Linda Lawrence…with Donovan

by Chris Murray on December 12, 2020  |  237 Comments »

Linda Lawrence has just had a beautiful ‘memoir’ of her remarkable life published, as a stunning deluxe limited edition book, Luna Love. Edited by her soul partner for life, Donovan, this book chronicles her amazing journey from her childhood in England and up to today, depicted in her own words, and with numerous photographs. Linda became Donovan’s muse, and one sees how Donovan came to write “Sunshine Superman” about her.

Luna Love is available directly from the author via www.donovan.ie. See below the story from the book’s unveiling.

THE UNVEILING OF THE EMPOWERING NEW BOOK LUNA LOVE
By LINDA LAWRENCE
WINDSOR
OCTOBER 16, 2020

See below The Private Unveiling of my book LUNA LOVE, in my favourite hotel Oakley Court in Windsor, the castle town where I was born. Here below are the photos by our photographer James Watkins, and video by my grandson Joolz Jones.

The Unveiling took place at Oakley Court Hotel on a sleepy curve of River Thames in Windsor. A double celebration as we enjoy our Golden Wedding Anniversary this year of 2020.

We enjoy a stroll along the riverbank on our way to the Open Tent where The Lunch took place.

The Riverside Open Tent Lunch.

Myself, Pattie Boyd and Marina enjoy a chat, while Pattie’s husband Rod Weston (left) listens in. Michael (right) guffawing again, he did so enjoy the gathering!

Don’s brother Gerald with his wife Vanessa, and Nigel Elderton (our longtime friend and Donovan’s Music Publisher at Peer Music) view LUNA LOVE, introduced by our assistant, our friend and organizer of the Event, LS.

Don sings my song to me ‘Legend of a Girl – Child Linda’.

A pose by The Griffin, at the front door of Oakley Court. Echoes of Alice in Wonderland.

The Group photo on leaving, a small yet vibrant gathering for Linda’s Spiritual Unveiling of her Work of Heart … LUNA LOVE.

Donovan’s cousin Sara Joy Hunter, MC for the day.

Linda’s Sister Carol’s Poet Husband Ian Griffith read the poem “You and I” for the occasion.

Roses in place, symbolic of my dear mother Violet and father Alec, we invited The Ancestors to be present, always in our heart.
The Unveiling took place one day before my Libra Birthday , the Moon In Libra, in the Month of our wedding 50 Solar Years before, here in Windsor where I was born on my mother Violet’s birthday. Our Gaelic Festival of Samhain has arrived to welcome The Harvest , the Doorways to The Otherworld are opening. 
Thank you all for empowering LUNA LOVE , which is, in essence, a Beacon of Light for all generations of Women and Men of Gentle Heart.
-Linda Lawrence

Delta Sapphograph by Donovan

Donovan’s Sapphographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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“I’m so isolated that most of the time I don’t know where I am.” – Richard Lewis

by Chris Murray on December 3, 2020  |  108 Comments »

As is often the case, comedic genius, actor, and author Richard Lewis is ahead of his time. This ‘reflection’ on isolation by Lewis and the accompanying image by Carl Titolo reflecting Lewis’ social distancing from himself, are from Lewis’ book Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis’ Guide On How Not To Live.

Artist Carl Titolo and Richard Lewis, Chicago, 2015. Photo by Megan Bearden.

Published five years ago by PowerHouse Books, the book includes a foreword by Larry David and a preface by Chris Murray.

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The Magical Mystery Hour Interview on “George Harrison: Be Here Now” from Rizzoli

by Patrick Pearse on November 28, 2020  |  1 Comment »
George Harrison 1971, New York City. Photo by Barry Feinstein.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the release of George Harrison’s  #1 album All Things Must Pass. Today author and curator Chris Murray will give a live interview about his recently published book of Barry Feinstein’s amazing photographs, George Harrison: Be Here Now (Rizzoli), on The Magical Mystery Hour radio show in Cleveland, hosted by Matt Slys.

That interview will be live streaming from 2:40 pm to 3pm, Eastern Standard Time on wdlwradio.com. It is also airing live on WDLW 98.9 and on 1380 AM. It should be a good interview. 

George Harrison 1971, New York City. Negative by Barry Feinstein.

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“George Harrison: Be Here Now”

by Patrick Pearse on November 17, 2020  |  3 Comments »

This month is the 50th anniversary of the release of George Harrison’s masterpiece All Things Must Pass, on November 27th, 1970. That recording remains the best selling album by a Beatle to this day and showcased the musical genius of George Harrison.

George Harrison, 1970, England. Photo by Barry Feinstein.

Rizzoli has just published a stunning book, George Harrison: Be Here Now, which features the photographs of Barry Feinstein, and is edited by Chris Murray who also wrote the Introduction.  The book also features a Foreword by George’s friend Donovan.

George Harrison and Donovan, Castlemartin, Ireland, 1972. Photo by Stewart Lawrence.

Here is the press release from Rizzoli for George Harrison: Be Here Now

GEORGE HARRISON: BE HERE NOW
Photographs by Barry Feinstein
Edited & with an introduction by Chris Murray Preface by Donovan Hardcover / 8.5” x 11” / 208 pages
250 color photographs
$45.00 U.S. / ISBN: 978-0-8478-6775-2 Rizzoli New York / October 2020

All Things Must Pass, The Concert for Bangladesh, and Living in the Material World comprise George Harrison’s solo career “triple crown.” These three albums, produced from 1970-1973, defined Harrison’s creative and prolific genius as a musical artist after the break up of Beatles. Photographer and Harrison’s friend Barry Feinstein was there to document it all. Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of All Things Must Pass, GEORGE HARRISON: BE HERE NOW contains never-before-seen photographs from Feinstein’s archive as well as ephemera relating to these seminal releases.

Among Feinstein’s best known and most iconic photograph is Harrison in his wellies surrounded by garden gnomes at his home Friar Park, which graces the cover of All Things Must Pass. Serving as the official photographer of the Concert for Bangladesh, Feinstein’s exclusive access allowed him to capture Harrison and his friends. Among those musical artists were Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Billy Preston, and more. They performed for a cause that would raise over $12 million for UNICEF, setting the stage for the concerts that would follow such as Live Aid, Farm Aid, and more.

Govinda Gallery director and author Chris Murray chronicles Harrison’s soulful, bohemian spirit and shares details of the singer-songwriter’s life that connects readers with these intimate photographs. The preface by the musical great, Donovan, further establishes Harrison’s transcendence and enlightenment, calling out the truth in all of Harrison’s songs: “The ever-present wisdom path which leads to the awakening of love . . . asleep within us all.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barry Feinstein (1931–2011) was an American photographer who helped create more than 500 album covers and worked with a who’s who list of icons including Marlene Dietrich, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Charlton Heston, Jayne Manseld, and Steve McQueen. His photos of celebrities, and such politicians as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, appeared in national publications, including Time, Esquire, and Newsweek. Chris Murray is a writer and founder of Govinda Gallery. This is his 20th book. Donovan is a Scottish singer and songwriter best known for his hit songs “Catch the Wind,” “Sunshine Superman,” and “Mellow Yellow.”

George Harrison: Be Here Now is available from Amazon. Barry Feinstein’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

“The Art of Tom Meyer”

by Chris Murray on November 8, 2020  |  431 Comments »

The Georgetown Dish’s Judith Berman posted a fine story on Tom Meyer’s new exhibition of paintings at Addison/Ripley in Georgetown. Berman’s review is well illustrated with Tom’s paintings. Don’t miss the show if you are in Washington.

The Art of Tom Meyer Now at Addison/Ripley
November 4, 2020 | by Judith Beermann

Visit Addison/Ripley Fine Art through December 5, 2020 to experience Tom Meyer’s “Seeing in the Dark” exhibition.

Unofficial exhibition curator and friend, Chris Murray wrote about Meyer’s work: “Tom Meyer has been referred to as an ‘outsider’ artist.  He is indeed a self-taught painter. Working primarily with acrylic on canvas or board, Meyer’s paintings originate from impulses within his soul.  The cast of characters that inhabit his paintings give an account of his inner life and his imagination. They tell a story with his themes, “of redemption, forgiveness, acceptance, rejection and love,” as he has described it.

Outsider artists offer a pure glimpse of unedited inspiration. Meyer is no exception. His work is equal parts benign and disturbing. Ghosts, devils, aliens and demons flirt with everyday objects, animated trees and animals fierce and household. The houses are domestic and slightly ominous. The larger paintings suggest complex narratives while the smaller ones are portraits or, in some cases, a catalogue of Jungian seeming symbols.

“I don’t paint things, I paint ideas,” says Meyer. His work is informed and inspired by a variety of ideas, from current events to ancient philosophy, part of a creative tradition with roots that include early American folk art. 

Meyer has created a personal universe with his paintings, as many outsider artists have done. This exhibition is a dazzling display of that universe.

Special thanks to Chris Murray of Govinda Gallery for the introduction to Tom Meyer and for his invaluable curatorial expertise.

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 1:00 am – 5:00 pm, by appointment.

Addison/Ripley Fine Art is located at 1670 Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. Tel: 202.338.5180


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Baron Wolman, First Chief Photographer for Rolling Stone, RIP

by Chris Murray on November 4, 2020  |  45 Comments »
Baron Wolman on stage at Woodstock, August 16, 1969, while Santana performs. Photo by Bill Graham.

Baron Wolman was among the first photographers I exhibited at Govinda Gallery to feature musical artists. In July of 1994, he and I co-curated the exhibition “Woodstock: Photographs,” which also included photographers Henry Diltz, Lisa Law, Joe Sia, and Elliot Landy. It was a great exhibition documenting both the performers and the historic scene at the now legendary festival.

John Sebastian performing at Woodstock. Photo by Baron Wolman, 1969.

In June of 1996, I exhibited Baron’s first one-man show at Govinda, “Baron Wolman: My Generation.”  That exhibition was also a launch for his book, Classic Rock & Other Rollers. Both Baron, who was on hand to autograph his book, and the gallery visitors had a great time during that exhibition, with music playing to accompany the photographs which included George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, The Grateful Dead, Little Richard, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash and many more.

George Harrison at Apple Records, London 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

Baron was also featured in the epic traveling museum exhibition, “Sound & Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography,” which I curated and co-organized with the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Georgia. His large-format photos of Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger were remarkable. His photos from that exhibition were seen in five major museums throughout the south.

Janis Joplin, San Francisco 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.
Mick Jagger, on the set of Performance, London, 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

One of the most wonderful pastimes Baron and I shared together was in Salamanca, Spain in the fall of 2008. The contemporary art museum in Salamanca, Domus Artium, had organized a truly extraordinary group of exhibitions that filled the entire museum on the subject of music as seen through a variety of visual arts. Baron and I were brought to Salamanca by the museum for the opening of the exhibitions. Baron was part of a major group show of photographs. It was a great pleasure for me to curate the exhibition, “Elvis at 21: The Photographs of Alfred Wertheimer,” for the museum. We had a blast walking the ancient streets of Old Salamanca together.

Domus Artium Museum, Salamanca, Spain.

In 2012, I edited the book Rolling Stones: 50 x 20 (Insight Editions).  In that book, I included a section devoted to Baron’s photographs of The Stones.  I interviewed Baron for the book and he said to me, “The Stones are the ultimate Rock & Roll band.  Every time you go to a show, you get so energized you have to dance right in your seat.”

Keith Richards, Oakland, California, 1978. Photo by Baron Wolman.

The thing about Baron Wolman is that he was one of the kindest people I ever worked with and was always a gentleman. He gave me every opportunity to make the exhibitions I organized of his photographs successful and a pleasure. I loved Baron and will miss his cheerful demeanor. Baron and I continued to work together right up to these days. His stunning large scale images of Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa are on permanent display at Hamilton Live, the music venue in downtown Washington D.C.

Frank Zappa, Los Angeles, 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

The last two photographs I recently bought from Baron for my own collection were two color images of Bob Dylan and Fats Dominoe. I love them both.

Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming tour, 1980.
Fats Domino, Backstage Las Vegas, 1968.

The first-ever interview in Rolling Stone magazine was with Donovan. Here is a shot by Baron Wolman of Donovan from that photo session to accompany the interview in November 1967.

Donovan from Rolling Stone shoot, 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has just opened a retrospective exhibition of Baron Wolman’s photographs.

Baron Wolman’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

Jane Fonda’s Mug Shot…and Fifty Years Later.

by Chris Murray on November 2, 2020  |  53 Comments »
Jane Fonda’s Mug Shot, Cleveland, Ohio, November 3rd, 1970.

I have a print of Jane Fonda’s mug shot and noticed the photo was taken 50 years ago tomorrow. Time passes quickly. Fonda was crossing the border from Canada where she had begun a speaking tour about the Vietnam War. The Cleveland police told Fonda they were getting their orders from the White House. Tricky Dick. They confiscated her vitamins, suggesting they were drugs. The charges were later dropped when they tested the so-called drugs…they were indeed vitamins.

Fonda is speaking at Kent State University tonight to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the killing of four students and the injury of nine on May 4th, 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd that had gathered to protest the war in Vietnam.

Chris Murray with Jane Fonda, U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. February 2020. Photo by Carlotta Hester.

I attended several Fire Drill Fridays organized by Fonda at the U.S. Capitol this past winter, with talks and seminars to raise awareness regarding climate change and related environmental issues. The Financial Times just this past weekend had a feature story by Leslie Hook on how climate change is exacerbating the spread of viruses.

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