Tag Archives: 70th Birthday

Happy 70th Birthday, Jimi Hendrix: Photos of an Incendiary Talent

If a musician’s greatness is measured by the breadth of his influence and how else should we gauge it? Jimi Hendrix’s legacy commends him as one of the most inspiring virtuosos who ever lived. Consider just a few of the acts who explicitly cite Hendrix as central to their sound, or who pay tribute by incorporating at least something of him into their work: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miles Davis (who, of course, influenced Hendrix, as well), ZZ Top, Stephen Stills, Public Enemy the list is as long as it is dizzying in its variety.

To put it even more simply: Who else can be heard, resoundingly, in the music of both Prince and Metallica? Funkadelic and Van Halen?

Perhaps the only aspect of Hendrix’s career more remarkable than its aesthetic clout is how awfully short it was. (A fact often obscured by the seemingly endless reissues of his work that have hit the market in the decades since his death.) After making a name overseas in the mid-1960s, he came to sudden and enduring prominence in the U.S. after his legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967; he died in London in September 1970, when he was just 27 years old. But for those 40 months, Jimi Hendrix was one of the few undisputedly indispensable pop-culture figures of the era. And as with so many huge stars who died young including other members of rock and roll’s “27 Club,” like Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, the Stone’s Brian Jones and more the brevity of his life has hardly made his place in the rock pantheon less secure.

On what would have been his 70th birthday (Hendrix was born in Seattle on Nov. 27, 1942), we pay tribute to the guitar wizard through photos made by another iconoclastic creative force, the rock and roll photographer Jim Marshall.

Image: Hendrix burns his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967

Jim Marshall Photography LLC

Hendrix burns his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967

Known for his work capturing legends (Jagger, Richards, Dylan, Sly Stone, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Johnny Cash and countless others) onstage and in quieter, unguarded moments, Marshall who died in March 2010 photographed Hendrix from the moment he exploded, flaming guitar and all, into the public eye at Monterey through the heady, propulsive months and far-too-few years that followed.

The pictures in this gallery, meanwhile, are emblematic of Marshall at his very best a distillation of a long career spent chronicling the charismatic, chameleon-like and frequently unhinged heroes and heroines of rock.

Here is Hendrix at his most relaxed and winning (laughing with his friend and sometime bandmate, the great drummer Buddy Miles, for example, in slide 7); at his most incendiary (slide 11); and at his Sgt. Pepper-meets-Voodoo Chile grooviest (backstage with Brian Jones at Monterey, slide 14).

But whatever mood or persona Hendrix happens to be projecting at the moment, the overriding sense we get from Jim Marshall’s pictures is one of intimacy. Few photographers who have spent any amount of time with the notoriously volatile egomaniacs (not to mention often-drug-addled paranoiacs) who inhabit the rarefied realms of rock have managed to come away with work that was clearly made by someone who belonged. Marshall who was something of a celebrity himself by the mid-Sixties was not cowed by the outsized personalities who could fill entire stadiums not only with music, but with attitude.

(MORE: Jim Marshall’s Collection of Rock ‘n Roll Portraits)

It’s fruitless to ask what Hendrix might be doing now, at 70, had he not died of “drug-induced asphyxia” that is, if he hadn’t choked to death on his own vomit at 27, while he was still growing and exploring as an artist. Fruitless, and inevitable. After all, it’s only natural to wonder what a talent as protean as Hendrix’s would have achieved in the decades after he gave us “Crosstown Traffic,” “Hey Joe,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Bold as Love,” his transcendent “Star-Spangled Banner” and scores of other singular classics. article writing submission . Would he have composed soundtracks? Symphonies? Would he have dug ever deeper into his bluesy roots, finding simpler, more elemental ways to tell his own story? Would he and Neil Young spend half the year, every year, touring together, trading beautiful, terrifying riffs in front of overawed fans?

Happy birthday, Jimi, and rest in peace. We shall not see your like again.

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com.

Happy 70th Birthday, Jerry Garcia

On what would have been Jerry Garcia’s 70th birthday, LightBox presents a collection of images of the iconic Grateful Dead frontman taken by legendary music photographer Jim Marshall.

Any counterculture worth its salt will eventually succeed in having its values coopted by the broader culture. This, of course, can lead to such ironic outcomes as The Grateful Dead–the once underground ambassadors of indolence, free love and heavy drugs–becoming the best selling concert act in all of America, beloved by long-haired liberals and buttoned-down Reaganites alike.

Jim Marshall

Jerry Garcia, 1968

And Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist, singer and spiritual glue of America’s Greatest Touring Band, contained a few contradictions of his own. For instance, he was one of rock music’s most revered guitarists –named by Rolling Stone as the 13th greatest of all time–but was missing a finger in his right hand. He was a counterculture icon who profited handsomely from hawking ties and ice cream. And most tragically, he was an ardent advocate of mind-expanding drugs, but spent much of his life hobbled by addictions to cocaine and heroin.

Garcia, who would have turned 70 on Aug. 1, cut his teeth in the small San Francisco folk music scene of the early 1960s playing in a jug band with future Dead members Bob Weir and Ron “Pigpen” Mckernan. But Garcia and his hometown of San Francisco were quickly shaken from their attachment to the staid aesthetics of folk music by the arrival of LSD. The drug inspired Garcia to give up his half-hearted attempt at raising a family and earning a steady paycheck. As he told Jan Wenner in 1972:

“It just changed everything you know, it was just – ah, first of all, for me personally, it freed me, you know, the effect was that it freed me because I suddenly realized that my little attempt at having a straight life and doing that was really a fiction and just wasn’t going to work out.”

From its humble beginnings as the house band for Ken Kesey’s famous “Acid Test” parties in the Bay Area in the mid-to-late sixties, the Grateful Dead went on to tour the world and build one of the most loyal and ardent fan bases in the history of rock and roll. It did so not on the strength of platinum records, but on it’s reputation for lively and improvisational live shows, which featured foremost the dulcet guitar work and silky voice of Jerry Garcia. Garcia didn’t posses the raw power of a Jimmy Page or the slick perfectionism of Eric Clapton–but he did have a remarkable feel for the instrument, as well as an unrivaled musical intuition. As Rolling Stone told it,

“Garcia could dazzle on slide (“Cosmic Charlie”) or pedal steel (“Dire Wolf”), but his natural home was playing lead onstage, exploring the frontier of psychedelic sound. The piercing lyricism of this tone was all the more remarkable for the fact that he was missing the third finger of his right hand — the result of a childhood accident while he and his brother Tiff were chopping wood.”

And though The Grateful Dead were never chart-toppers at their peak like Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones, their influence is just as palpable today as those bands. In an age where fewer and fewer artists can make an honest living by selling records alone, the live show has become the medium through which many artists make their most significant artistic statements. Acts like stadium-packing Phish owe a huge debt to The Grateful Dead’s improvisational style.

But beyond the music, much of The Grateful Dead’s popularity can be attributed to Jerry Garcia’s magnetic personality. The man’s shaggy beard and incandescent smile are not only a defining image of his own band, but for sixties music in general. And those who knew him best were in awe of his ability to enthrall. “Insofar as you were able, you were an exponent of a dream in the continual act of being defined into a reality,” wrote Garcia’s longtime lyricist, Robert Hunter on the anniversary of his death. “You had a massive personality and talent to present it to the world. That dream is the crux of the matter, and somehow concerns beauty, consciousness and community.”

Chris Matthews is a writer-reporter at TIME.com.


Happy Birthday, Paul McCartney: 70 Iconic Images for 70 Years

In honor of Paul McCartney’s 70th birthday on June 18, LightBox culled various photography archives to feature 70 iconic images of the Beatle—one for each year of his life—with text from the introduction of TIME’s new book, Paul McCartney: The legend rocks on, by James Kaplan.

He is the most ordinary of extraordinary men: a historical figure with a common streak, a genius who’s still not entirely sure where it all comes from, or came from.

“I’ve always had this thing of him and me,” Paul McCartney told Barry Miles, his authorized biographer, in 1996. “He goes onstage, he’s famous, and then me; I’m just some kid from Liverpool … this little kid who used to run down the streets in Speke … collecting jam jars, damming up streams in the woods. I still very much am him grown up.

“Occasionally, I stop and think, I am Paul McCartney … hell, that is a total freak-out! You know, Paul McCartney! Just the words, it sounds like a total kind of legend. But, of course, you don’t want to go thinking that too much because it takes over.” And yet, “when I go on tour, I’m glad of the legendary thing,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to try and entertain 60,000 people in a Texas stadium with just the guy next door.”

No, that wouldn’t do at all. And so—still, in 2012—he steps out on the stage of whatever arena he may be playing, in whichever corner of the world—it scarcely matters where or what language they speak; everyone knows him and loves him, everyone knows the words to all the songs—and, as the roar rises to the rafters, begins singing, for the umpteenth time and with undiminished joy:

Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery tour, step right this way …

Today—inconceivably—he turns 70, and he’s still rolling. Fast. In the months before the big day, he seemed to be everywhere at once: touring in Helsinki and Moscow and Liverpool. Getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Playing at the MusiCares benefit (where he was honored as Person of the Year). Playing at the Grammys. Attending his daughter Stella’s fashion show in Paris. Vacationing in St. Barts with his wife Nancy Shevell—and then touring some more, in Rotterdam and Zurich and London.

It was almost as though, if he moved fast enough and squeezed in enough events, he might sideslip the 18th of June altogether and proceed to the next golden stage, untouched and untallied. Exactly the kind of dream a little kid running down the street in Liverpool might dream.

Except that no one, in his wildest imaginings, could have dreamed all that had happened to him in the years between then and now.

All four of them had remarkable faces, but only his was beautiful, the big-eyed, long-lashed looks saved from mere prettiness by a persistent, perhaps willfully untended, five-o’clock shadow and those asymmetrical, ironically arched brows, which seemed to say, I’ve got the goods. No, really. Think I’m kidding?

He had the goods, and then some. “Oh, beyond measure—on a Mozart level,” the musician and record producer Peter Asher told TIME recently, speaking of the musical gifts of the brash young -Liverpudlian who, beginning in 1963, dated his sister Jane and, though already famous, bunked in the attic of the Asher family’s town house on Wimpole Street: the attic where the melody of “Yesterday” came to him one night in a dream.

That, of course, was many yesterdays ago. And while Paul McCartney’s youthful beauty has gone the way of youth, the immense musical talent endures, along with, at the biblical three score and 10, something perhaps even more remarkable: “He keeps on going,” says another longtime acquaintance, the writer and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. “He doesn’t have to. He’s got all the money and all the success, and he’s written some great songs. In Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real … there’s [a line]: ‘Make voyages, attempt them; there’s nothing else.’ I think that’s Paul.”

At 70, he voyages still, maintaining a schedule that would give pause to a man half his age: a 30-concert tour in 2011-2012, from the Bronx to Bologna, Moscow to Montevideo to Mexico City. “My wife says he’s an alien from the Planet Fab,” says Paul “Wix” Wickens, the keyboardist in the band that has backed McCartney for the past 10 years. (The band also includes bassist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist Brian Ray and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.)

“If you’re enjoying it, why do something else?” McCartney asked Rolling Stone, rhetorically, earlier this year. His pleasure in his art and his craft seems as pure as it was when he first picked up a guitar almost 60 years ago. “He absolutely loves music,” Wickens says. “He loves to play. And he loves being involved. He’s always doing something. When we [in the band] are not working, he is not not-working. He does relax, and he does take holidays. But he puts his head into other places, not just pop music, because he likes a challenge, he likes just to be doing it.”

Funny, the things an ordinary man will come up with.

Excerpted from TIME’s new book; Paul McCartney: The legend rocks on, by James Kaplan, copyright ©2012 by Time Home Entertainment Inc. To buy a copy, go to time.com/mccartneybook.

Read an excerpt from the book here.

Happy Birthday, Muhammad Ali: 70 Iconic Images for 70 Years

Muhammad Ali’s first sounds were “Gee-Gee, Gee-Gee.” His beautiful mother Odessa Clay called her son “G-G” for the rest of her life, and years later, Ali would say, “After I won the Golden Gloves, I told Mama that from the very beginning, I was trying to say, ‘Golden Gloves.’ ” So began the life of Muhammad Ali, who celebrates his 70th birthday today.

Though many know him as the greatest boxer of all time, few know that it was actually the theft of his bicycle at age 12 that began his boxing career. After the bike was stolen, Ali ran to the police station, threatening to “whup whoever stole my bike.” Joe Martin, a white Louisville, Ky., policeman, told him he had better learn to fight, and in his spare time, he took Ali under his wing and taught him the ropes. Ali won his first fight six weeks later. When the referee raised his arm in victory, Ali shouted the iconic words that would become a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I’m gonna be the greatest of all time!”

But what was so incredible about Ali was all the courageous and selfless things he did beyond boxing. In 1975 I called Ali to talk to him about the campaign I was doing for Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, whose book convinced me that he was an innocent man in the slammer. Muhammad was so happy to hear I thought Rubin was innocent. He said, “Absolutely, I’m with you.” Ali literally stopped doing a million things to help someone — a fellow fighter — get out of jail. It was so heroic, and of all the times we worked together, it is still my favorite memory of him. I also can’t tell you how many times, when we were driving on the road, he’d see a school and make me pull over. He’d meet all 200 schoolkids and sign 200 autographs, often with a kid on his lap. That was just his personality, to be so giving of his time. It seriously got to the point that when I saw a school, I’d think, “Oh my God, here we go again. We’re in trouble.”

About 15 years ago, I was a juror in court in downtown Manhattan. After the case was over, the judge asked the jury to enter and talk to him. We go in, and he explains that one of the jurors was a man who changed his life. We’re looking at each other, and he goes, “The juror is George Lois.” Everyone is looking at me, and I’m looking at him like he’s crazy. He told me he was a student at Columbia University in the ’60s, when there were furious debates about Vietnam and draft dodgers, and how that 1968 Esquire cover of Ali as St. Sebastian solidified the argument for Ali’s decision to not participate in the draft. The judge said it changed Columbia University students’ understanding and point of view about the war. I remember that because it speaks to the influence of Ali. From a narcissistic self-promoter who eventually became a man of enduring spirituality through a journey of formidable tests, Ali emerged as a true superhero in the annals of American history and a worldwide ambassador of courage and conviction. A boxing legend who courageously spoke up for black men and civil rights throughout his life! Ali, above all, is the sweetest, nicest person I’ve ever met in my life. And on his glorious 70th birthday, I am privileged to salute him, with the rest of the world.

George Lois is one of advertising’s most famous art directors and cultural provocateurs. From 1962 to ’72, he art-directed several iconic covers for Esquire magazine.