Remembering Ken Regan

by Chris Murray on November 28, 2012

I heard the news from a friend yesterday that photographer Ken Regan had passed on. Govinda Gallery hosted Ken’s first exhibition, Ken Reagan: Photographs of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Thunder Review, with an opening reception on January 21st, 2005 at Govinda Gallery. The exhibition was also a celebration of the publication of the book by Sam Shepard; The Rolling Thunder Logbook (Da Capo Press). It was an amazing exhibition and showcased Ken’s photos of Dylan and the scene surrounding the Rolling Thunder Review for the fist time. Collectors loved them.

Bob Dylan, Montreal, Canada, 1975. Copyright © Ken Regan. All Rights Reserved.

The The Rolling Thunder Logbook by Sam Shepard.

Only a week ago I went to see Bob Dylan perform in Washington, DC and I bought a t-shirt at the merchandise stand that features Ken’s photo on the front. I am wearing it now.

Bob Dylan, 1975. Copyright © Ken Regan. All Rights Reserved.

That same year Govinda Gallery presented Ken’s second exhibition; Ken Regan: Photographs of the Rolling Stones, with an opening reception on June 23rd, 2005. The Stones tour A Bigger Bang was underway. It was the only time that Govinda Gallery presented two exhibitions by the same artist in the same year.

The Rolling Stones, New York City, 1977. Copyright © Ken Regan. All Rights Reserved.

Presenting Ken Regan’s first two exhibitions was an honor and a pleasure. At the end of 2006 I started work editing what was to be Ken’s first book, Knockout: The Art of Boxing (Insight Editions). I spent several weeks at Ken’s studio pouring over 20,000 negatives and transparancies of his boxing photos making the selections for the book. Of invaluable help at that time was Ken’s trusted and capable assistant Tom Justino. There were several thousand photos of Muhammad Ali alone. Knockout was published in 2007 and received a number of publishing awards.

I also spent several days recording Ken’s boxing stories at his apartment in Manhattan. These recordings became Ken’s text for Knockout. They are also a document of my time with Ken and are very special to me.

“This book may teach you everything you need to know about the art of boxing. It’s Ken Regan at his classic best.” – Muhammad Ali, from the foreword to Knockout, May 20th, 2007

“Ken Regan is humble. He’s also a great photographer. His lifelong work has captured the drama in boxing. There’s just something truthful and exquisite about the sport, and his images are equally exquisite.” – Liam Neeson, from the introduction to Knockout, June 7th, 2007

“Whether it is hard news, sports, human interest, or rock and roll, the indefatigable Ken Regan is there with his fabled camera-eye. He is the illuminator of our culture, and the cultures with which ours interact.” – Budd Schulberg, from the afterword to Knockout, 2007

Ken Regan and Madonna, 1985.

Ken Regan’s archive of photographs is truly monumental. It is a great document of our times. Ken Regan was an Irishman born in the Bronx, as am I. I will miss him.

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  • Comments

    • Diane Seeger

      Quite a phenomenal talent! He won’t be forgotten!

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