the Backroom



Joan Baez and Tupac Shakur

by Chris Murray on December 26, 2016  |  1 Comment »

I was very glad to hear that Joan Baez and Tupac Shakur were selected for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 2017. Those two musical artists are linked together more than a casual observer might realize.

barrie-wentzell_joan-baez Joan Baez, 1965. © Barrie Wentzell.

Joan Baez’s career has been extraordinary. She has one of the great voices of American song. She was also an outstanding advocate for social justice and human rights. She supported the careers and was a friend to numerous musical artists, including Bob Dylan and Donovan.

danny-clinch_tupac-shakur Tupac Shakur, 1993. © Danny Clinch.

Tupac Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, like Joan Baez was a committed activist and a member of the Black Panther Party. Tupac’s song Dear Mama is one of the most soulful love songs to a mother I have ever heard. His poetic lyricism and his unique vocal style have made him the first solo rapper to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

I love these photographs of Joan Baez by Barrie Wentzell and Tupac Shakur by Danny Clinch. Their photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog   

Franca Sozzani, Andy Warhol, Bob Colacello and Madonna

by Chris Murray on December 26, 2016  |  3 Comments »

“She had the best eye for photography.” – Peter Lindbergh

franca-sozzani_peter-lindbergh Franca Sozzani, Café de Flore, 2012. © Peter Lindbergh.

© Italian Vogue, February 1991.

25 years ago, Italian Vogue published a feature story on my lifelong friend, Bob Colacello. Bob and I met in college in 1965 at Georgetown University, and have remained friends ever since. The cover story in that issue of Italian Vogue was about Madonna and that feature story had several pages of great photos as did the story on Bob Colacello.

© Madonna, 1990. © Steven Meisel.

Franca Sozzani, who passed away last week, had been editing Italian Vogue for only a couple of years when she published those stories on Bob and Madonna. To look back at that issue now proves what photographer Peter Lindbergh said about Franca’s eye for good photography.

©  Italian Vogue double-page spread, February 1991.

The layout for the story on Bob Colacello opened with a double-page spread of an image of him with his boss at the time, Andy Warhol, and myself, all of us wearing women’s hats for a photo project called American Beauty by Paul Weiss, a student in the photography program at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington.

chris-car
Chris Murray and his 1961 Chysler Newport, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980.
© Chris Makos.

In 1979 I drove Andy and Bob to the Corcoran Gallery of Art for a book signing for Exposures, Andy Warhol’s book of photographs with text by Andy and Bob. I drove them in my 1961 Chrysler Newport. The art director of that project was Chris Makos, who has had six exhibitions at Govinda Gallery.

Paul Weiss approached me at the book signing and asked me if Andy would pose for some photos for his American Beauty project. Andy agreed, and Paul took some terrific photos. Franca Sozzani loved that photograph and featured it in that issue of Italian Vogue.

© Bob Colacello, Andy Warhol and Chris Murray, Corcoran School of Art, 1979. © Paul Weiss.

Fashion stylist Lori Goldstein said of Franca Sozzani and her influence that “She wasn’t trying to be revolutionary. She just was.”

Category: Blog   

Howard Bingham 1939-2016

by Chris Murray on December 20, 2016  |  1 Comment »

Howard Bingham and Muhammad Ali. © Neil Leifer. Howard Bingham and Muhammad Ali. © Neil Leifer.

I heard the news that Howard Bingham passed away last week. Howard was Muhammad Ali’s best friend, since he was Cassius Clay, and he was a friend to me as well. It was because of Howard Bingham that I came to be able to call Muhammad Ali a friend of mine.

People sometimes ask me what was the greatest day ever at Govinda Gallery. There have been so many extraordinary ones but it was the day Muhammad Ali came to Govinda with his friend Howard Bingham that was my favorite day at Govinda Gallery.

© Govinda Gallery Archive. © Govinda Gallery Archive.

When I first met Howard Bingham, I asked him if he would help me celebrate Govinda Gallery’s 20th anniversary with an exhibition of his photographs of Muhammad Ali. He did, and here is a full-page ad for that exhibition in the Washington Review of the Arts. I had Muhammad and Howard sign that full-page for me. When I first showed the ad to Howard Bingham, he was with Ali and he jokingly pointed out to Ali how his name was the big name and Ali’s was smaller. He told Ali with a sly smile and Muhammad pretended he was angry! It was really funny and a great moment between two great friends. I miss them both, but their mutual legacy goes on forever. For me Howard’s passing and Ali’s passing this year mark the end of the Ali era.

Howard Bingham getting ready to sign his book of photos of Ali at his Govinda Gallery exhibition while Ali charms the Govinda Girls with some magic. © Govinda Gallery Archive Howard Bingham getting ready to sign his book of photos of Ali at his Govinda Gallery exhibition while Ali charms the Govinda Girls with some magic. © Govinda Gallery Archive.

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Sunshine Superman Donovan and Jimmy Page at the Albert Hall

by Chris Murray on December 14, 2016  |  1 Comment »

The much anticipated DVD of the Albert Hall concert recreating the entire Sunshine Superman album has just been released by Donovan Discs. Jimmy Page was a surprise guest, having played guitar on the original recording 50 years ago of both mega-hits, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow. What a great gentleman Jimmy Page is.

Beautiful photo of two great friends and two great artists; Jimmy Page and Donovan. At the Gore Hotel after-party, 2011.  © Virgilio Fino. Beautiful photo of two great friends and two great artists; Jimmy Page and Donovan. At the Gore Hotel after-party, 2011. © Virgilio Fino.

Albert Hall live concert Sunshine Superman DVD autographed by Donovan. Albert Hall live concert Sunshine Superman DVD autographed by Donovan.

Check this clip out from the concert of Donovan and Jimmy performing Sunshine Superman.

Donovan talking with the great bass player Danny Thompson with Chris Murray looking on, 2011. ©  Virgilio Fino. Donovan talking with the great bass player Danny Thompson with Chris Murray looking on backstage at intermission at the Albert Hall, 2011. © Virgilio Fino.

Check out more photos and other material from the concert.

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Shoot First – Harry Benson

by Chris Murray on December 14, 2016  |  1 Comment »

The night before last I saw the documentary film, Shoot First, about the life and times of the great photographer Harry Benson. I laughed and I cried as I watched our times flash before me in the film, beautifully narrated by a group of individuals including journalist Carl Bernstein, sports photographer & filmmaker Neil Leifer and Vanity Fair Creative Director David Friend, among others.

chris_shoot-firstjpg Chris Murray with Shoot First poster at Landmark Cinema in Washington. © Carlotta Hester.

Harry is a charming and engaging person who as a photojournalist has documented stories that have affected all of our lives, one way or another. You can’t see this film without leaving the theatre with indelible memories.

Bill and Hillary Clinton. © Harry Benson. Bill and Hillary Clinton at the Governor’s Mansion, Little Rock, AR, 1992. © Harry Benson.

What a pleasure for me to have exhibited Harry’s brilliant photographs over the years at Govinda Gallery, as well as in museum exhibitions I curated, most notably Sound & Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography.

Donald Trump holding one million dollars. © Harry Benson. Donald Trump holding one million dollars at the Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, NJ, 1990. © Harry Benson.

Harry Benson’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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Rare David Bowie Stage Suit at Sotheby’s

by Chris Murray on December 5, 2016  |  1 Comment »

Artist Carlotta Hester got a chance to try on David Bowie’s gold leather jacket that he wore on the Glass Spider Tour in 1987. That jacket, along with gold leather pants and belt, as well as a gold shirt, comprise the very rare signed stage suit being offered December 10th in Sotheby’s New York Rock & Roll auction.

©  Chris Murray. © Chris Murray.

Mick Rock took some remarkable photos of David Bowie in various suits. This photo of Mick Rock’s was featured in the Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography museum tour. Mick Rock’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

David Bowie, London, 1973. ©  Mick Rock. David Bowie, London, 1973. © Mick Rock.

Category: Blog   

Junior Marvin’s Wailers Bob Marley Tribute

by Chris Murray on November 16, 2016  |  1 Comment »

Bob Marley, Soul Rebel, Hope Road, 1976. ©  David Burnett. Bob Marley, Soul Rebel, Hope Road, 1976. © David Burnett.

Tomorrow night, Saturday, November 19th, Junior Marvin will be performing his Bob Marley Tribute at Hamilton Live in Washington, DC. Junior’s tribute is the best there is honoring Bob Marley and his musical legacy. Junior performed and recorded with Marley and was by his side from Exodus to the great reggae musical artist’s death. If you like Bob Marley’s reggae music, you will not want to miss this show.

This lovely portrait of Marley at his home in Kingston is by David Burnett. Burnett’s photographs are available at Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog   

Leon Russell 1942-2016

by Chris Murray on November 16, 2016  |  4 Comments »

Leon Russell, 1970. © Barrie Wentzell. Leon Russell, 1970. © Barrie Wentzell.

Leon Russell truly was an extraordinarily soulful musical artist. A brilliant keyboard player, songwriter, arranger, performer and more. He was a dear friend of George Harrison, an outstanding hippie, and he wrote one of the greatest love songs of our time, A Song for You. I love Leon Russell and this photo of him by Barrie Wentzell.

Category: Blog   

Herman Leonard’s Brilliant Jazz Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery

by Chris Murray on November 7, 2016  |  3 Comments »

I just went to see Herman Leonard’s exhibition of jazz photographs at the National Portrait Gallery. It was a stunning exhibition and the panels of text accompanying each photograph are illuminating. Among the images in the exhibition were portraits of Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker, Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and others.

Billie Holiday. © Herman Leonard. Billie Holiday, New York 1949. © Herman Leonard.

Justin Weber wrote a terrific review of Leonard’s exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery that sums up how good the exhibition is. It was published in Washington City Paper, and here is a link to that review.

It was Govinda Gallery’s great honor to host Herman Leonard’s first exhibition twenty years ago in September of 1996. Herman came from his home in New Orleans to attend the opening reception. It was a packed house and after the opening I hosted a party with Carol Taylor Gray in Herman’s honor at her home in Georgetown. It was a lively evening that ended with a fierce arm wrestling contest between the ladies. Carlotta Hester defeated Carol Taylor Gray in the final match and Herman Leonard loved it!

Carol Taylor Gray. Carol Taylor Gray at Govinda Gallery in front of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen After the Party. © Chris Murray/Govinda Gallery Archive.

Leonard’s exhibition at Govinda was also a launch for Herman Leonard: Jazz Memories (Filipacchi, 1996), Leonard’s award-winning book of jazz photographs. Herman inscribed his book to me at the exhibition opening.

Inscribed copy of Jazz Memories. Inscribed copy of Jazz Memories. © Govinda Gallery Archive.

Charlie Parker, New York 1949. Charlie Parker, New York 1949. © Herman Leonard.

Sarah Vaughan, New York 1949. Sarah Vaughan, New York 1949. © Herman Leonard.

Herman Leonard’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog   

Tom Hayden R.I.P…’SHOTS’

by Chris Murray on October 25, 2016  |  4 Comments »

Chicago 7 members hold a press conference immediately after being charged with contempt during their conspiracy trial. Tom Hayden is on the far right. Chicago, IL, April 8, 1969. © David Fenton. Chicago 7 members hold a press conference immediately after being charged with contempt during their conspiracy trial. Tom Hayden is on the far right. Chicago, IL, April 8, 1969. © David Fenton.

I heard the news Tuesday about activist, civil rights worker, author and California State Senator Tom Hayden passing on. It was an honor for me to collaborate with Lely Constantinople in editing and producing the book SHOTS, featuring David Fenton’s photographs of political demonstrations and activists. (Earth Aware Editions, 2005) Tom Hayden contributed the foreword to that book, for which I wrote the afterword.

Shots: An American Photographer's Journal 1967-1972. (Earth Aware Editions,
Shots: An American Photographer’s Journal 1967-1972. (Earth Aware Editions, 2005)

Tom Hayden wrote in SHOTS of David Fenton’s images, “These shots are genuine, reflecting the eye of a young man attempting to process the chaos of worlds falling apart and being born. They save the authentic from both co-optation and disappearance.”

David Fenton’s photographs and the book SHOTS are available through Govinda Gallery.

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