You know the photographer: Michael Friedman. The Staples High School Class of 1961 graduate had a long career in music. He managed Todd Rundgren and Kris Kristofferson — as well as (with Albert Grossman) Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Band, Odetta, and Peter Paul & Mary. He did publicity for the Dave Clark 5 and Herman’s Hermits.
Nearly 3 years ago, he discovered an astonishing series of photos he’d taken almost 50 years earlier.
Mick Jagger (Photo copyright Michael Friedman)
The Stones. Janis Joplin. The Band. Johnny Winter. Gordon Lightfoot. James Cotton. Ian and Sylvia. Rita Coolidge. Tom Rush. Professor Longhair. Paul Butterfield — all were artists Friedman worked with in the 1960s.
Friedman spent several months printing, restoring and mounting the photos. Each was up close, and personal.
Michael Friedman in the Church Lane pop-up gallery. His photo shows Levon Helm, legendary drummer for The Band.
After the Westport show, the photos headed to the California Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.
The exhibit includes the guitar that Janis Joplin played on “Me and Bobby McGee” in concert. Friedman’s photos of her with the instrument — which she used onstage only twice, and only for that song — are the only ones known.
Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” guitar, with his photo of her.
It took more than a year for the exhibit to come together. His wife Donna Vita provided invaluable help.
Now it’s up, and attracting great attention. After the ribbon-cutting, Friedman was interviewed live by chief curator Karen Herman, at the Hall.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame interview.
Friedman’s exhibit runs for 6 months. Yet when it ends, it’s not over.
His entire collection of over 100 images will be archived, in perpetuity.
Which makes sense. As Neil Young sings, “Hey hey, my my/Rock and roll can never die.”
(Click here to see many of the photos on exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.)
So mark next Wednesday, March 21 (7 p.m.) on your calendar. Michael Friedman’s Gallery in Bedford Square is the site for one of Westport’s liveliest musical events ever.
The owner’s stunning photographs of everyone from Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger to the Band and Johnny Winter (another former Westporter) serves as a backdrop for a Moth-style session about rock ‘n’ roll.
Among the storytellers:
Former Paul Butterfield Blues Band organist, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Mark Naftalin.
Mark Naftalin: A keyboardist, recording artist, composer and record producer, he and his fellow Paul Butterfield Blues Band members are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Crispin Cioe: A sax player and songwriter, he’s played and recorded with James Brown, the Stones, Solomon Burke, Tom Waits, Ray Charles and the Ohio Players.
Roger Kaufman: A noted local performer with the Old School Revue, Roger worked last year with the Smithsonian Museum to archive, preserve and pay tribute to Steve Cropper, the legendary Stax guitarist who played on classic songs like “Knock on Wood,” “Midnight Hour” and “Dock of the Bay.” Soon, he’ll archive materials with Weston’s own Jose Feliciano.
Rob Fraboni: A producer and audio who worked with Bob Dylan, the Band, Eric Clapton and the Stones — and who as vice president of Island Records oversaw the remastering of the entire Bob Marley catalog. Keith Richards called him “a genius.”
David Bennett Cohen, with Country Joe and the Fish.
David Bennett Cohen: The original keyboardist, and also a guitar player, for Country Joe and the Fish.
Wendy May: She’s spent the last 20 years performing with Charlie Daniels, Kenny Chesney, Mark Chestnut, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Marty Haggard and many others.
Dick Wingate: In a long career with labels like Arista, PolyGram, Epic and Columbia Records, he worked closely with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Peter Tosh and Pink Floy, among others.
Michael Friedman: In addition to photography, he worked as a publicist with the Mamas and the Papas, Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits and Glen Campbell, and was an artist manager for Dylan, the Band, Janis Joplin, Gordon Lightfoot, Todd Rundgren, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge.
Rusty Ford: He co-founded Lothar & the Hand People, the psychedelic band that was the first to use a theremin and Moog synthesizer in live performances. He also played bass with the Beach Boys.
Lothar and the Hand People
Also on the bill: Bari Rudin and Caissie St. Onge, comedy writers who have worked with David Letterman, Phil Donohue, “Saturday Night Live,” Rosie O’Donnell and Joan Rivers.
Incredibly, every storyteller is a local resident. This area remains rich in rock history. We don’t have to ship in stars. They’re right here, living as our neighbors and friends.
They’ll each speak for about 8 minutes. Every one though has a lifetime of stories to tell.
* Let’s not forget the Hall & Oates “concert” too.
(Tickets for “Rock & Roll Stories” include food, beer, wine and an auction. It’s part of the Westport Library’s week-long “Flex” series, which features a celebrity lunch with Sam Kass and Jane Green, a conversation with Ruth Reichl, movies, a dance-a-thon, a family day, gala party and much more. Click here for information and tickets.)
Ever since 1995, a video of Steve Tyler’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speech has played on an endless loop in the Cleveland museum.
In 1966 his band — the Chain Reaction — opened for the Yardbirds. And that, Aerosmith’s leader said, inspired him to have a career in music.
That concert — along with others by the Doors, Cream, Rascals, Animals, Remains and Sly and the Family Stone — has become legendary. “The High School That Rocked!” — a documentary by Fred Cantor (Staples ’71, perhaps the only Westport teenager of that era who did not go to one of those concerts ) and Casey Denton (Staples ’14, who obviously was born way after that golden era) — pays homage to them. It was released last year, and earned high praise on the festival circuit.
Now it too has reached the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, February 17, the documentary will be screened — on its own loop — prior to the Tri-C High School Rock Off Final Exams. That’s the championship round of a competition for teenage groups. Prizes include cash, scholarships, and an invitation to play during this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction week.
It’s all part of the Rock & Roll Hall’s 2018 film series. Other subjects explore rap, Lady Gaga, Nina Simone, Native Americans in popular music history, the music executive who signed Metallica and White Zombie, the Monkees, Prince and Hüsker Dü.
You may not get to Cleveland for the Staples concerts video. You may have missed it at its sold-out showings here in Westport.
But — in the words of Neil Young — “rock and roll can never die.”So click here to download “The High School That Rocked!”
Tell ’em Steve Tyler sent you.
ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME BONUS FEATURE: Click below for the Steve Tyler video mentioned above.
Two years ago, Nile Rodgers — the longtime Westporter/musician/ producer/ composer/arranger — received a great honor: He was the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” star.
Now he’s booked on an even bigger stage. On April 7, he’ll receive the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence.
He’ll be in good company for the Brooklyn ceremony. Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes are fellow honorees.
Make no mistake. Our neighbor is an impressive addition to the roster of the Rock Hall’s Music Excellence honorees — a list that includes Leon Russell, the E Street Band and Ringo Starr.
Rodgers has performed or produced for everyone from Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) to Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Britney Spears. In 2014 — the same year he gave a rousing performance at the library — he earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”).
He’s also an influential guitarist with Chic (“Le Freak”). But for the 11th time, his famed band has not made the Hall of Fame cut.
Nile Rodgers with Chic — back in the day.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Westport’s latest rock legend called the announcement — he’s in, the group’s out — “bittersweet.” Click here for the full Q-and-A, all about his Chic years and after.
Then — when you’re finished reading — let’s dance!
As reported last December, Mark Naftalin was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The longtime Westporter played keyboard for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The legendary seminal blues-rock group joined Ringo Starr, Green Day, Joan Jett, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bill Withers as members of the “Class of 2015.”
The induction ceremony took place Saturday night, in Cleveland.
If you weren’t there — and no jokes about Cleveland, please, they’re very sensitive folks — here is the band’s “Born in Chicago” jam:
The clip below is a lot longer. It’s the induction speech itself, beginning with words from Mark:
Want even more? HBO airs a special on the entire evening. But you’ll have to wait — it’s on May 30.
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