When my good friend, Baron Wolman, told me that he had released a new book about his Rolling Stone magazine years, “Every Picture Tells a Story, Baron Wolman, the Rolling Stone Years,” I knew it was a book I had to have. Once I received it, and after spending more than an hour turning pages, I came away feeling warm and fuzzy. Every picture really did tell a story. Sometimes it was not one you wanted to remember, but for the most part the memories were positive, even about Altamont (below), the ill-fated concert held at a speedway between Tracy and Livermore, in California, in 1969. Enough has been written about that concert, mostly negative, but for me it was truly a magical experience to be able to see the performers, and listen to the music with nothing to do but enjoy the experience. Even though, between the Hell’s Angels and the drug-influenced crowd, there wasn’t much friendship displayed. When the opening act, Santana, came out and began to play, things seemed to begin in the right direction. The only regret I have about that day was when another friend had offered me his Leica to photograph the event, and I didn’t take it.
Since I was so into the music at the time, it was all I paid attention to that whole “culture-defining day” and that was probably a good thing given all the pandemonium (good and bad) that manifested itself during the day. Just reading the text in Baron Wolman’s account of the concert in his book, took me immediately back to that time. And so it is with all of the pictures in the book. I have seen many of the acts photographed by Baron in the book: Janis/Big Brother, The Stones (four times), Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service (did you see me there, Baron, in 1967, in Golden Gate Park?) The Kingston Trio, Creedence, Dolly Parton, The Who, etc. Each photograph is a memory, a feeling, an emotion.
There are two constants, creatively, in my life, photography and music. Whenever the two are brought together in a book, it HAS to be on my bookshelf… no arguments! I grew up during the time of “The Rolling Stone Years.” I got drafted, married, and became a father.
“Back then in the Sixties there weren’t too many photographers, other than Baron and Jim Marshall who worked this area. Baron and Jim and a few others supplied the images that showed the Sixties revolution in all its iconic and iconoclastic glory. But Baron’s are set apart for me because of the consistent humanity in his pictures.” (from the Introduction by Tony Lane, former Art Director of Rolling Stone)
Besides being an artist with the camera, when Baron takes a picture, you can immediately see that he “sees” more than the singular image that the camera lens depicts. He captures the personality of the person: the thoughtfulness of Duane Allman (page 88), the genius of Jimi Hendrix (page 105), and the goofiness of Pete Townshend (page 172). It’s all there, from the first to the last pages, capturing the best of it all, during a time of tremendous change and upheaval in America. The text that accompanies the photographs is well-written, using the same “voice” you can see in his pictures. Baron Wolman, unlike me, took his camera and he took pictures… pictures that tell a story. And what a great and beautiful story it is. Buy it!