Every picture tells a story. During his career, Photographer Barrie Wentzell collected an endless cache of unheard stories from and about many of rock’s greatest legends that would blow your head right off. From 1965 to 1975 – certainly one of the (if not the) most vibrant and fertile decades for Rock & Roll music and culture — Wentzell shot both live performance and candid, intimate photographs of everyone who was anyone: from Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles to The Kinks and Led Zeppelin for the UK weekly music rag, Melody Maker.
His pay was about 20 pounds per week, but Wentzell will tell you even today that his dream gig during the Golden Age of Rock & Roll was never about the money; it was about the experiences he had with these artists.
Right now, you can view a small portion of Wentzell’s extensive and wildly impressive career legacy at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in the comprehensively entitled exhibit, Melody Maker: The Best Years, 1965-1975, The Photography of Barrie Wentzell. Most of these pictures have never been published or viewed by the public. In fact, Wentzell admitted that, prior to staging the exhibit, he’d not viewed the majority of these photos since he first took them. And that is just shame, because his pictures are transcendent.
I have seen many, many great rock photography exhibits and I must say that this is the first one where the words “Fine Art Rock Photography” – which is what Morrison Hotel Gallery is known for – really resonated with me when experiencing Barrie Wentzell’s photos. The oddest reaction I had was while silently gazing at a black and white photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, taken while both were still in their early 20s. They just looked so young and unjaded, with their entire lives and careers ahead of them. I thought about the first Elton John songs I ever heard, like “Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters,” “Mad Man Across the Water” and “Sixty Years On.” And unexpected tears of deep nostalgia welled up in my eyes. It was embarrassing to dork out in public like that, but it was also such an amazing feeling to be so fully transported back to a time when Rock Stars meant everything to me. Barrie Wentzell’s work is truly as magical as the music of that era.
Read more about Barrie Wentzell, and view some of the photos in this do-not-miss show, at This Link.
Morrison Hotel Gallery is Located at 116 Prince Street (Loft) and 124 Prince Street (Store Front) in NYC’s Greenwich Village.
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Elton John & Bernie Taupin