Howard Bingham 1939-2016

by Chris Murray on December 20, 2016

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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