Rare Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix Photos on India Tour

New Delhi
Rare Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix Photos on India Tour

An underwater shot of Kurt Cobain and a seated Bruce Springsteen find place amongst rare and vintage photos of iconic rock musicians such as like Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, in an exhibition that is currently touring the country.

The show titled "Gibson through the Lens" captures the world's guitar heroes enjoying moments with their Gibson guitars - be it backstage, on the tour bus at home or live on stage.

Notable among these photographs is that of Elvis Presley with his Gibson J-200 Accoustic, clicked by Carl Dunn. It is well known, that Presley's manager tried to keep photographers away from the singer.

However, the real man behind the visual extravaganza is Dave Brolan, a celebrated music photography archivist. Brolan managed to compile over 60 photographs from a numerous gems, that celebrity photographers seemed to have lying around in their records.

The lead picture of the exhibition is a black and white photograph of Jimi Hendrix with his Gibson Flying V, clicked by Baron Wolman.

"It's amazing that such a great photo had been overlooked since 1968," Brolan said.

The exhibition features a wide array of rock musicians that have had a strong influence on the music culture, right from the 1960s. The time line to which these photographs belong go back to 1967 and some of them are as recent as 2007.

It comprises photographs, with their binding theme being the iconic status of a Gibson guitar and the popularity of the musician. It seems the key to perfection in those times might be a Gibson Les Pauls or a SG, and a rock icon.

The display was put together by Brolan being the curator and with inputs from the US and UK team of Gibson Inc. Along with the contributing photographers.

"All of the photographers got really excited by the concept and took time to revisit their archives with us to search out photos of artists with Gibson or Epiphone guitars, to this day I have photographers calling me and saying they found a great Gibson shot, then they tell me who the artist is!," Brolan said in an email interview.

The pictures, he said had to be carefully chosen, keeping in mind that the guitar must be an integral part of the picture, without looking like a staged shot, showing the passion between the artist and his guitar.

The reverence that most rock musicians felt for a Gibson guitar is something not alien to even Indian musicians.

Anup Kutty, of Indian rock band, Menwhopause recollects, "In a gig in the north-east, a couple of fans just wanted to touch my Gibson Les Pauls. And I could perfectly understand the urge, as I felt the same at their age."

The curatorial team had to ensure a seamless transition from one artist to another, striking the right balance between informal, live and studio shots.

Initially, Brolan said he had planned it to be a 35-photo exhibition, but had to increase the limit to up to 70, given the sheer number of pictures with the contributing photographers.

A major challenge that Brolan faced during compilation was that he wanted to include as many photographers and musicians as possible, which he said proved to be a bit difficult given the sheer number of photographs that were available.

Eminent photographers like Bob Guerin, Baron Wolman, Mick Rock, Ross Halfin, Neal Preston and the late Jim Marshal had shot the pictures.

The photographers attempt to capture musicians in a private moment with their guitars, capturing sides, that the world hardly knew about.

Incidentally, there are three pictures of Jimmy Page, one from 1967, one from 1976 and one taken in 2007. As time progress, the Gibson Les Paul in his hand looked as timeless as ever in his hands. It is almost impossible to forget the guitar showmanship that Page showed to the audience.

The showmanship that many of these musicians showed with their guitars is something that most fans remember.

Uday Shankar of the band, Indus Creed said he was attracted to The Who's Pete Townshend and his guitar smashing antics.

"Townshend was the reason I became a musician, I was awed by his whole guitar smashing routine," he said.

The artists have been captured in varied poses, some intense, some casual, while in others candid. The seamless transition of seeing Jimmy Page with a Gibson Les Paul and then Jimi Hendrix with a Gibson SG, could be credited to the pains that Grolan took to assemble pictures.

The exhibition, which had previously been showcased in the London, Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney and Los Angeles has also been displayed at Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore before being hosted by Vivanta by Taj Gurgaon. It is scheduled to end on December 17.

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