Press Releases

Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present

For Release: August 2010

Akron, Ohio, August 27, 2010 — For the first time as a major museum exhibition, the story of rock and roll is being told from the perspective of the men and women who not only chronicled the genre, but defined it comprehensively – the photographers.
Acknowledging both their creative and collaborative role in the history of rock music, Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present features 174 photos and 8 videos by 111 photographers and videographers, including Richard Avedon, Anton Corbijin, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz and many more. On view at the Akron Art Museum October 23, 2010 – January 23, 2011, the exhibition has already toured nationally in several cities to outstanding reviews.
“No form of music has ever been as integrally tied to the visual arts as rock and roll,” says Director of Curatorial Affairs Barbara Tannenbaum. “Photographers of rock did not just document the musicians and concerts. They helped create identities for the performers and their musical styles, providing visual equivalents as thrilling and entrancing as the music itself. This exhibition reveals, for the first time, the nature of the relationship between photography and rock and roll.”
Organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art with guest curator Gail Buckland, Who Shot Rock & Roll is broken into six sections, chronicling not the history of rock and roll itself, but the photographers responsible for giving the genre its visual identity. The sections are as follows: rare and revealing images taken behind the scenes; tender snapshots of young musicians at the beginning of their careers; exhilarating photographs of live performances that display the energy, passion, style and sex appeal of the band on stage; powerful images of the crowds and fans that are often evocative of historic paintings; portraits revealing the soul and creativity, rather than the surface and celebrity, of the musicians; and conceptual images and album covers highlighting the collaborative efforts between the image makers and musicians.
“The photographs in this exhibition mirror the depth, breadth, artistry and passion of the music and the musicians and the exuberance of the fans,” said Buckland. “Just as there is no one soundtrack that is rock, there is no one photographic vision.”
Among the works on view are such iconic images as William “Red” Robertson’s erotic 1955 photo of a pelvis-thrusting Elvis Presley that appeared on his first album; The Clash’s London Calling album cover by Pennie Smith depicting Paul Simon smashing his Fender bass guitar; the contact sheet of Bob Gruen’s portrait of John Lennon in a sleeveless New York City T-shirt; Don Hunstein’s photograph of Bob Dylan walking with his girlfriend Suze Rotolo down a snowy Greenwich Village street; David LaChapelle’s image of Lil Kim as a bikini-clad cop; and Anton Corbijn’s shoot of U2 for their Joshua Tree album. The exhibition will also feature photographs by Woodstock photographer Barry Feinstein, Jim Marshall, Ryan McGinley, Linda McCartney, Mark Seliger, and Albert Watson.
Rock icons are nothing without their image – a knowledge Buckland embraced when organizing the exhibition, striving to give rock photographers the credit they deserve. “Rock and roll was a bipartite revolution: the sound and the image,” she said. “The music alone could not create the revolution. The kids were reacting to the hairstyles and the clothes and the body language. And the people who gave rock its image are very, very important. Revolutions have to be documented to be believed.”
Most of the photographs in the exhibition were uncovered in the photographers’ own files. Rarely if ever exhibited pictures include a 1963 photograph by Philip Townsend of the Rolling Stones; an image of James Brown surrounded by female fans shot by actor Dennis Hopper; the working photographs and album cover by Jean-Paul Goude of Grace Jones for Island Life; the full sequence of never-before-exhibited photographs by Ed Caraeff of Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967; the 1976 photograph by Roberta Bayley used on the Ramones first album; Amy Winehouse on her wedding day by Max Vadukul; the four classic 1967 Beatles portraits by Richard Avedon; Ike and Tina Turner at Club Paradise in Memphis in 1962 by the African-American photographer Ernest Withers; and an approximately nine-by-seven-foot tour-de-force by German photographer Andrea Gursky of Madonna performing in 2001.
The exhibition will also include music videos by artists featured in the exhibition, an 80-image slide show by Henry Diltz, and a rock-and-roll chronology made from actual album covers. Courtesy of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, the following costumes will be on display in the galleries throughout the duration of the exhibition as well:
·    Rust-colored Gold Star Recording Studio jacket worn by Phil Spector, Courtesy of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio; Collection of Phil Spector
·    Green/pink sparkly “Hercules” suit worn by Elton John, Collection of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio
·    Short mini-dress made from silver diamonte fabric with black trim, worn by Tina Turner, Courtesy of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio; Collection of Tina Turner
·    Purple faux fur vest, black T-shirt and orange pants worn by Fred Schneider of the B-52’s, , Collection of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio
·    Madonna Girlie Show Tour purple velvet stage costume, , Collection of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio
Exhibition Catalogue
Serving as the exhibition catalogue is a 320-page hardcover book authored by Buckland, titled “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to Present.” The book contains 298 color and black and white photographs, along with commentary about each image’s photographer, their influences and relationships with the musicians and how they “saw what they saw and captured what they captured.”
“Who Shot Rock & Roll” will be sold in the Museum Store for $40, or can be purchased online at
This exhibition is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Gail Buckland.
Its presentation in Akron is made possible in part by a generous gift from the Adam Fund of Akron Community Foundation with additional funding from the Thomas & Lisa Mandel Fund of the Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation, WAKR/WONE, Scene Magazine and House of LaRose.
Related Programming
Who Shot Rock Opening Party
Friday, October 22, 8 – 10 pm
Long Live Rock & Roll! Be the first to see this exciting collection of historic rock photography and videos. Come dressed in concert attire or your favorite rock star! Prizes awarded for best costumes. Music, food and cash bar. Free for members, $10 for non-members and $6 for Western Reserve PBS members. Tickets available at the door only, no advance purchase available. Look for more detailed information on the museum’s website at The Who Shot Rock & Roll Opening Preview is sponsored by Smithers Scientific Services.
Free Lectures
Gail Buckland, Exhibition Curator
Friday, October 22, 7 pm
Guest curator and photography historian Gail Buckland will help kick off the opening festivities of Who Shot Rock and Roll with a lecture prior to the Opening Party. A major authority on photography, Buckland’s talk will highlight the unsung heroes of rock music and music photographers, providing a fitting introduction to the exhibition. This lecture requires online registration and opening party admission. Visit for more information.
Bob Gruen, Photographer
Thursday, November 11, 6:30 pm
Best known for his seminal photograph of John Lennon in a New York City shirt, Bob Gruen acted as Lennon’s personal photographer during his time in New York. Gruen, who has photographed hundreds of rock acts from Bob Dylan to Greenday, will give a free lecture about his work and the anecdotes that come with the territory. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium.
Free Concerts
The ReBeats: A Beatles Tribute (during Holiday mART)
Thursday, December 16,7 – 9 pm
Get ready to scream and shout as the ReBeats recreate all of the magic of your favorite fab four songs. This mop top group performs songs in full Sgt. Pepper uniforms, and have earned a reputation for entertaining audiences of all ages with their swinging ‘60s style.
Throw a little ho ho ho into your twist and shout as you complete your holiday shopping at Holiday mART. Unique, handcrafted wares will be available for purchase from local artists. This event is FREE and features a cash bar.
Mr. Speed: A Kiss Tribute
Thursday, January 20, 7 pm
Who doesn’t love a band that performs in full 1976-77 era Kiss makeup and costume? Help Who Shot Rock close out with a bang as you join the Kiss Army along with Mr. Speed, one of America’s finest Kiss tributes. You’ll want to rock and roll all night – or at least until the museum closes! Bring your cameras and wear your best Kiss gear! This event is FREE and features a cash bar.
Free Film Screenings
Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields
Thursday, December 2,7 pm
Ten years in the making, Strange Powers is an intimate documentary portrait of indie rock icon and songwriter Stephin Merritt and his band the Magnetic Fields. Strange Powers explores Merritt’s songwriting and recording process, and focuses on his relationships with his band mates, revealing an artist who has produced one of the most engaging and confounding bodies of work in the contemporary American songbook. Directed by Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium.
No One Knows about Persian Cats
Thursday, December 9, 7 pm
Shot in secret and featuring extraordinary performances by real underground bands, No One Knows About Persian Cats follows a pair of young Iranian musicians, recently released from prison, on a mission to flee the country and take their rock band to Europe. This takes them on a free-wheeling journey through Iran’s vibrant and diverse underground scene, home to an estimated 2,000 illegal independent bands. Directed by Bahman Ghobadi. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Charles and Jane Lehner Auditorium.
Museum Book Club

Book: “Just Kids”
Thursday, November 4, 6:30 – 8 pm
Complementing the Who Shot Rock & Roll exhibition, this memoir by Patti Smith recalls how she and Robert Mapplethorpe found each other on the streets of New York City in the late 1960s, and made a pact to stay together until they became famous – which both were absolutely confident would happen, and did. Patti began as a poet and emerged as rock star before Robert became famous as a photographer, but they both achieved their dreams. A guided tour of the exhibition will also be part of the evening. Book Club is free but registration is required – please call 330.376.9186 x230 to register. “Just Kids” is for sale in the Museum Store for $27 (members and book club participants will receive a 15% discount).
Related Community Programming
97.5 WONE Online Photo Contest
Don’t let your rock concert photos waste away in a Facebook album, on your hard drive or in a shoebox. Show the world with the 97.5 WONE, Akron Art Museum-Who Shot Rock and Roll Photo Contest. See your photos displayed on, and compete for the WONE Best Rock Photo. It all begins on October 25 and runs through Friday, January 1, 2011. You could win the Grand Prize of a digital camera, limo ride to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, lunch at the Hard Rock Café and tickets to the Akron Art Museum's Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present exhibition.
Visual Music: Northeast Ohio Photographers Look at Rock and Roll
Sunday, November 7 – December 6, 2010
Curated by local rock photographer and Cleveland Scene Magazine staff writer Anastasia Pantsios. On view at the We Gallery, 20 N. High Street, in Akron.

Eleven photographers who documented the Cleveland/Akron music scene from the 1960s until today will be showing their work in Visual Music: Northeast Ohio Photographers Look at Rock and Roll. Visual Music will focus on images that capture the historically vibrant Northeast Ohio music scene, including the British invasion of Cleveland in the ”60s, Akron’s ’70 punk/new wave scene the ’80s superstar era dominated by WMMS-FM, the arrival of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and important underground clubs like the Euclid Tavern and Speak in Tongues. Both local bands and memorable area shows by big-name acts will be included. Participating
photographers are Ken Blaze, Jay Brown, Bob Ferrell, Neal Hamilton, Janet Macoska, Keith Marlowe, Karen Novak, Anastasia Pantsios, Stephanie Saniga, George Shuba and Linda Woods.
Threadbangers Ball:
Craft Akron Presents “CraftStock,” a Series of Rock-Inspired Crafts
This fall, Craft Akron will offer a number of Who Shot Rock & Roll inspired classes. Create a summer of love inspired tie dye ensemble, a macramé belt or a Woodstock-worthy beaded headband. Learn how to convert old, worn concert tee-shirts into a beautiful quilt. For more information on class times and dates, check out the Craft Akron website at:

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