Trustees Award: Jim Marshall

Henry Diltz and Graham Nash pay tribute to one of music's most iconic photographers
  • Photo: Henry Diltz
    Jim Marshall
  • Photo: Simon Russell/Getty Images
    Henry Diltz
  • Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images
    Graham Nash
January 15, 2014 -- 4:44 pm PST
By Henry Diltz and Graham Nash /

(In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. In the days leading up to the 56th GRAMMY Awards, will present the tributes to the 2014 Special Merit Awards recipients.)

Jim Marshall was my guru. He told me so himself. He was the guru of most of today's music photographers because he was one of the first and one of the best. His mantra was "Get the picture!"

I met him in the mid-'60s. He worked mostly in San Francisco and I worked mostly in L.A., but our paths crossed at the Monterey Pop Festival and at Woodstock, and then more often as the years went by.

There are many colorful adjectives that come to mind when remembering Jim: irascible, impatient, explosive, but always very, very kindhearted. He liked to drink and tell stories and he loved pretty women. "Cars, guns and cameras always get me into trouble," he used to say. He brooked no denial as he waded right in with his little Leica clicking quietly and constantly. His eye was amazing as he caught the essence of each scene before him. His subjects loved his energy and commitment to the moment. He was always very much in the moment.

I had always known Jim for his photos of San Francisco's rich music scene: the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and Santana. I knew his famous photo of Johnny Cash giving the finger (a message to the warden of the San Quentin State Prison), but I was totally unprepared for the breadth of his subject matter the day I walked into a gallery in L.A.'s Bergamot Station that was exhibiting his work. There were several big rooms whose walls were completely covered with his photos from floor to ceiling with no space in between. I saw old blues singers, civil rights marches, baseball players, famous comedians, beatniks, hippies, and jazz musicians. I never saw so many pictures on a wall in my life. That huge collection of images is his living gift to us all.

Jim had no family as long as I knew him; his family was his friends, all of whom have hilarious and harried "Jim" stories they love to share. Some involve guns, some involve drugs, all involve the "F" word (his favorite), and all include an awe and a warm feeling for the man we all loved.

We still love you, Jim!

— Henry Diltz

The world is a better place because of the talent and vision of my friend Jim Marshall. He, of course, took countless iconic photographs over the years and always brought a deeper insight into the world of photography and music. His images can be likened to haiku poetry: everything in its proper place … no "extra" information … only the very essences necessary to convey what he wants us to see. Never one to be dissuaded from a good shot, he opened our eyes to the wonders of his portraits. Jim's images always have a sense of completeness and his ability to compose instantly is renowned. It's possible that I took the last portrait of Jim shortly before his untimely passing. Jim may be gone but his images will absolutely stand the test of time and be around for us to see and enjoy for years to come.

— Graham Nash

(With a career spanning more than 40 years, photographer Henry Diltz is responsible for capturing iconic images of historic events such as Woodstock and artists including Blondie; Eric Clapton; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; the Doors; and Led Zeppelin; among countless others. In 2001 Diltz co-founded the Morrison Hotel Gallery, which represents some of the most renowned photographers in music.)

(A GRAMMY-winning founding member of Crosby, Stills And Nash and the Hollies, and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Graham Nash is also a photographer and published author. His photographic work is collected in the book Eye To Eye: Photographs By Graham Nash. In 2008 he curated others' photographic work in Taking Aim: Unforgettable Rock 'N' Roll Photographs Selected By Graham Nash (2009). Since 2005 the first IRIS 3047 printer owned by Nash's digital printing company, Nash Editions, and one of its first published works — his 1969 portrait of David Crosby — have been in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.)

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