the Backroom



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.

Category: Blog   

Mick Rock…’Long Live Rock’!

by Chris Murray on October 25, 2016  |  Comments Off on Mick Rock…’Long Live Rock’!

Lou Reed, London, 1972. © Mick Rock. Lou Reed, London, 1972. © Mick Rock.

I was delighted to see Mick Rock’s brilliant photo of Lou Reed on the cover of the November issue of Mojo magazine. That photo of Lou was used for the cover of his groundbreaking album, Transformer. It was also one of the featured large-format photographs in the traveling museum exhibition, Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography.

Lou Reed with gallery director Chris Murray enjoying Mick Rock’s contact sheet images of Reed. © Govinda Gallery Archive. Lou Reed with gallery director Chris Murray enjoying Mick Rock’s contact sheet images of Reed. © Govinda Gallery Archive.

It was a great buzz for us at Govinda when Lou Reed dropped by one day in April of 1999 to see Mick’s exhibition, Mick Rock: A Photographic Record, at Govinda Gallery. Lou enjoyed all of Mick’s photographs that day, and very graciously signed Mick’s contact sheet print of Lou before he left the gallery. That is now a very rare print.

Mojo Magazine, November 2016. Mojo Magazine, November 2016.

Mick Rock is busier than ever with his latest book from Taschen, exhibitions of his photographs, and now the release of two documentary films about Mick and his work. Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock is a feature documentary film about Mick’s five-decade career helping define the visual image of contemporary music. Long Live Rock is a documentary short featuring Mick with fashion designer John Varvatos visiting some of the locations where Mick shot a number of his most famous photographs of Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Lou Reed, among others.

One of the wonderful aspects of being the Director of Govinda Gallery is that I became close friends with many of the artists we represent at Govinda. Mick Rock is one of those great friends. It was very exciting to host Mick’s first two exhibitions at Govinda and to feature his work in several museum exhibitions, with more coming up. Govinda Gallery was also the U.S. distributor for Mick’s first three books, published by Genesis Publications in England.

Mick Rock’s photographs and books are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog   

Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

by Chris Murray on October 13, 2016  |  6 Comments »

Bob Dylan at his typewriter, Greenwich Village, New York City 1964 Bob Dylan at his typewriter, Greenwich Village, New York City, 1964. © Ted Russell.

Congratulations, Bob!

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Green Day, Howard Stern, Donovan and The Malibooz

by Chris Murray on October 6, 2016  |  4 Comments »

Jon Pareles in The New York Times today wrote a review of Green Day’s new album, ‘Revolution Radio.’ In the review, he wrote that “Green Day’s music stays loyal to punk-rock’s defiant gusto…” Howard Stern did an amazing hour and a half interview with the band on his morning show yesterday and Green Day performed several songs live on the show.

Donovan with his wife and muse Linda backstage at the Public Hall in Cleveland after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, April 14, 2012. ©  Carlotta Hester, 2012 Donovan with his wife and muse Linda backstage at the Public Hall in Cleveland after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, April 14, 2012. © Carlotta Hester, 2012

It was an extraordinary honor for me to accompany Donovan to his induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. The induction ceremony and concert was held at Public Hall in Cleveland that year. I will never forget Green Day opening the concert with a killer performance of Letterbomb. I was standing in front of the stage, and I said to myself that Rock & Roll is very much alive and well upon seeing and hearing them perform. Donovan and his wife Linda and I were in the backstage dressing room with Billy Gibbons when Green Day came off the stage. I told Billie Joe Armstrong and Tré Cool how incredible their performance was. You could tell they were psyched to be there and to have performed so well. It won’t be long before Green Day is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Tré Cool reaching for Donovan's Hall of Fame award backstage at the Public Hall in Cleveland. ©  Carlotta Hester, 2012. Tré Cool reaching for Donovan’s Hall of Fame award backstage at the Public Hall in Cleveland. © Carlotta Hester, 2012.

Billie Joe Armstrong pumped up after coming offstage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. ©  Carlotta Hester, 2012. Billie Joe Armstrong pumped up after coming offstage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. © Carlotta Hester, 2012.

Tomorrow night, Donovan performs in Pasadena, CA at The Rose as part of his 50th Anniversary Sunshine Superman tour. I was psyched to see that The Malibooz will be opening for Donovan tomorrow night. I formed The Malibooz in New York City with my lifelong friend, John Zambetti while we were in high school together in Manhattan. I was the vocalist and rhythm guitar. As a band, we championed British Invasion, soul and surf music, which is what was happening musically at the time. John eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he kept The Malibooz going with the help of Walter Egan, who also went to Loyola High School with us and played in the original Malibooz, along with Dennis “Ace” Lopez and Tom Scarp. Walter has also enjoyed a great solo career which included his Top 10 hit, ‘Magnet and Steel,’ among several other hit songs he has written. It feels like my life has come full circle with The Malibooz opening for my friend and Govinda artist Donovan.

The Malibooz on E. 83rd St., NYC before a gig circa 1964. ©  The Malibooz. The Malibooz on E. 83rd St., NYC before a gig circa 1964. © Govinda Gallery Archive.

Govinda Gallery organized an exhibition of Walter Egan’s paintings of musical artists at Gypsy Sally’s in Washington. Donovan’s exhibition of his Sapphographs at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington continues through October 21st. Donovan and Egan’s artwork is available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog   

Bob Marley, David Burnett and George Harrison in 1976…Forty Years Ago

by Chris Murray on September 30, 2016  |  3 Comments »

The September issue of Mojo magazine has a cover story on Bob Marley in 1976, that features David Burnett’s photographs of the reggae superstar. It’s a compelling story as it describes the assassination attempt on Marley on December 3, 1976 at Marley’s home in Kingston, Jamaica. Burnett had photographed Marley at his home just a short time before the shooting, which left Marley, his wife Rita, his manager Don Taylor, and Louise Griffiths wounded from the gunshots.

Bob Marley Portrait #2. © David Burnett.

Bob Marley Portrait #2. © David Burnett.

Burnett went on to photograph Marley the following year on his Exodus tour in Europe. Burnett’s photos from 1976-1977 of Marley and the reggae scene form the book Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley. The New York Review of Books commented on Soul Rebel that Burnett “shot a beautiful series of portraits of Marley at his home–smiling in the yard with an acoustic guitar–Burnett’s images captured an idyll that couldn’t last.” Soul Rebel was edited with an introduction by Chris Murray, and the first exhibition of Burnett’s historic photos was held at Govinda Gallery in March 2009.

Bob Marley, Hope Road, Kingston, 1976. © David Burnett.

Bob Marley, Hope Road, Kingston, 1976. © David Burnett.

We love George Harrison here at Govinda Gallery. It was also forty years ago when Harrison and Marley met at the Roxy in Los Angeles on May 26th, 1976 at Bob Marley and The Wailers’ gig there. Along with George Harrison in attendance were Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Billy Preston, Buddy Miles, Jerry Garcia, Ringo Starr and Dr. Hook, among others. I sure do miss Bob Marley and George Harrison…they brought a lot of light into the world, and their music is still very much with us.

George Harrison and Bob Marley, © Kim Gottlieb-Walker

George Harrison and Bob Marley, © Kim Gottlieb-Walker

David Burnett’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog   

Bruce Springsteen, Frank Stefanko, and Annie Leibovitz

by Chris Murray on September 26, 2016  |  4 Comments »

Today is the publication date for Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run. I was so pleased to see Bruce chose Frank Stefanko‘s wonderful photo, taken of him in Haddonfield, NJ during the winter of 1978, for the cover of his book.

Bruce Springsteen, "Corvette Winter" © Frank Stefanko

Bruce Springsteen, “Corvette Winter” © Frank Stefanko

Govinda Gallery presented that photo in Frank Stefanko’s first exhibition, Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen, during the fall of 2003 at Govinda. It was also featured in Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography, the traveling museum exhibition organized by Govinda Gallery with the Columbus Museum. Also exhibited in that extraordinary museum tour of large-scale pigment prints was Frank’s beautiful portrait of Patti Smith.

Patti Smith, © Frank Stefanko

Patti Smith, © Frank Stefanko

It was a great pleasure for me to edit Frank Stefanko’s first book, also titled Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen. Frank’s photo of Bruce and his ’60 Corvette is featured as a double spread in that book. Frank comments in his book about the day he took that photo, “…he arrived in a slick ’60 Corvette. I think that car was his pride and joy. It was loaded, it was sleek, it ruled Route 9 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I imagined what it would be like to be Bruce, cruising in that Vette up the Pike under that giant Exxon sign in the wee, wee hours, thinking up song ideas while listening to his favorite tunes in that bad-ass Corvette.”

Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen (Insight Editions)

Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen (Insight Editions)

Bruce is also on the cover of the current issue of Vanity Fair, with a photo taken by Annie Leibovitz almost 40 years after Stefanko’s photo. Govinda Gallery hosted Annie Leibovitz’s first exhibition, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, in November of 1984. That exhibition was also a launch for Annie’s first book of the same title. In that exhibition was Annie’s photo of Bruce in 1981 in Uniondale, New York, which was the first photograph of Springsteen to be shown at Govinda Gallery. That was a remarkable exhibition.

Bruce Springsteen, Uniondale, New York, 1981. ©  Annie Leibovitz

Bruce Springsteen, Uniondale, New York, 1981. © Annie Leibovitz

Category: Blog   

Sunshine Superman, Carnegie Hall, Jimmy Kimmel, John Lennon and Sappho

by Chris Murray on September 20, 2016  |  Comments Off on Sunshine Superman, Carnegie Hall, Jimmy Kimmel, John Lennon and Sappho

If you haven’t had a chance to see Donovan’s beautiful Sapphograph exhibition at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, you still have time to do so. The exhibition’s last day is on Friday, October 21st. A wonderful overview of Donovan’s remarkable works on paper, including the 12-foot long “Sappho’s Song,” was written by Mark Jenkins in the Washington Post.

Donovan in concert.  © Stefan Hoederath/Redferns

Donovan in concert.
© Stefan Hoederath/Redferns

Last week it was my great pleasure to assist Donovan at his sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City commemorating the 50th anniversary of his No. 1 hit, “Sunshine Superman.” The concert also featured a guest appearance from singer-songwriter Louise Goffin, who performed a delightful duet with Donovan singing Love Potion No. 9, along with one of Louise’s own songs. Musician, composer, arranger and producer extraordinaire Richard Barone also joined Donovan onstage for a few songs, as well as the original percussionist on the Sunshine Superman recording, John ‘Candy’ Carr. Billboard magazine described the concert as “An evening that felt as much like a concert as it did a shared experience.” It meant a lot to me to be with Donovan at Carnegie Hall, as I saw my first live performance ever at a Ray Charles afternoon concert in 1963 at the legendary music hall.

Donovan recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, backed by Jimmy’s band Cleto and the Cletones. Donovan returns to New York to be honored as only the third person to receive the John Lennon Real Love Award at the 36th Annual John Lennon Real Love Tribute Concert on December 2nd at Symphony Space in New York City.

Donovan’s Sapphographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Donovan 1

Category: Blog   

Andy Warhol, Nick Rhodes, and Mr. Chow’s

by Chris Murray on August 31, 2016  |  1 Comment »

Yesterday The New York Times published a feature story on Michael Chow and his enduring Mr. Chow’s Restaurants. The story included a photo of Andy Warhol at Mr. Chow’s in 1985 with Nick Rhodes and Tina Chow at the East 57th Street location.

I enjoyed a few meals with Andy Warhol at Mr. Chow’s, including one when Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran was on the cover of Warhol’s Interview magazine. It was always an exciting time dining with Andy and while the Nick Rhodes cover issue was out, I remember a dinner Andy hosted at Mr. Chow’s with the brilliant photographer Christopher Makos, Jean-Michel Basquiat, artist Peter Wise, and a few others.

Interview Magazine

Here is that cover of Interview, featuring Rhodes. This particular issue is signed by Andy Warhol on the cover, and is available through Govinda Gallery. The Nick Rhodes interview by John Duka featured photographs by the legendary Albert Watson. That particular issue also featured a great photo spread by photographer Greg Gorman, along with other images by Mario Testino, David LaChapelle, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Patrick Demarchelier, among others. Interview published some of the best photography of its time in those days, and Govinda Gallery was fortunate to feature exhibitions of many of the Interview photographers. Also included in the November 1985 issue is Christopher Makos’s monthly photo column, In, as well as my college chum Glenn O’Brien’s music column, Beat.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   
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