Icon: Music Through The Lens
The World’s Most Iconic Photographers, Musicians, and Industry Experts Give Viewers a Backstage Pass into the Electrifying World of Music Photography in New Six-Part Series, Icon: Music Through The Lens.
Episode One – “On Camera” (Friday, July 16, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)
What makes an image iconic? Episode One explores how photographic images of Snoop Dogg, Bob Dylan and Madonna influence perceptions and how they communicate, through themes of interaction, technical skill, occasional luck and cultural impact. The episode goes back to Robert Johnson to find the genesis of music photographs that demonstrate the incredible power of a frozen moment in time. Other highlights include Kevin Cummins on Joy Division, Gered Mankowitz on Jimi Hendrix and Rachael Wright on Billie Eilish trying not to be beautiful.
Episode Two – “On the Road” (Friday, July 23, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)
On stage, backstage, on the tour bus—from the earliest days of live performance to the modern day, visually striking live music photographs have captured moments of pure magic and created era-defining imagery. Episode Two features touring stories from early trailblazers who went on the road with artists such as Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and The Who, mixed with tales from the punk era of CGBGs, the Clash and the Sex Pistols. The episode also explores photographers’ relationships with Oasis, Metallica, U2, Ed Sheeran and Courtney Barnett, plus special sections on music photography legend Jim Marshall and the origins of the “Three Songs, No Flash” rule.
Episode Three – “On the Record” (Friday, July 30, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)
The photography of record sleeves from jazz and early rock ’n’ roll is analyzed and explored, from the Beatles and Pink Floyd to the highly stylized and conceptual imagery on albums by Blur and Dizzee Rascal. Themes of nostalgia, resonance and association run through the superb stories of classic album covers by the Jam, Lou Reed, Thin Lizzy, Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, Joy Division and Crosby Stills and Nash. Highlights include Lynn Goldsmith on Patti Smith’s Horses, Jonathan Mannion on Jay-Z and DMX, and Elliott Landy on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.
Episode Four – “On the Cover” (Friday, August 6, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)
Music magazines played a pivotal role in elevating music photography to iconic status, providing a visual context for some of the world’s greatest bands and their music. This episode explores the legacy of the early covers of Rolling Stone, Creem, NME, Mojo and Q. Journalists, musicians and publicists discuss the enduring appeal and importance of the printed page, with music photographers who shot many of the most iconic front covers telling some touching, scandalous and never-heard-before stories about these images. Highlights include Chalkie Davies’ story of how Elton John hoped to use an NME magazine cover to come out, a young Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger with a leopard and the Stone Roses with a lot of paint. The episode also reveals how magazines covered the deaths of David Bowie and Kurt Cobain.
Episode Five – “On the Wall” (Friday, August 13, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)
The transition of music photography from being considered disposable to a highly collectable and valuable art form is examined by gallerists, publishers, art experts and featured photographers whose body of work now hangs on the walls of the world’s most revered institutions. Tracing the journey from the early days of low-paid assignments to the first gallery exhibitions of music photography and expensive coffee table books, ultimately arriving at individual prints now selling for six and even seven figure sums, this episode offers insight into this relatively new industry, exploring the relationship between art and commerce. Highlights include the section on Abbey Road - the “Holy Grail” of music photographs - Bruce Talamon on Miles Davis and how he got his Taschen book deal, Chris Floyd on waiting all day for the ‘real’ Paul McCartney, Jill Furmanovsky on her profile of a shy Charlie Watts and Bob Gruen on getting a surprise call from the UK’s National Portrait Gallery.
Episode Six – “On the Net” (Friday, August 13 from 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET)
Where does music photography sit in the contemporary popular culture landscape? The seismic switch from analogue to digital is discussed alongside the rise and influence of social media. Episode six ends the series in seeking to determine, through the next generation of music photographers, whether music photography still has a role to play—does it still carry the same importance, and who are the new standard bearers of the profession?
Photo Credit: Terry O'Neill