Last week saw the passing of photographer Bob Seidemann. Perhaps best known for his controversial photograph for the 1969 album “Blind Faith,” he photographed the rock stars of both the San Francisco and London scenes in the late ’60s.
Born in New York City and raised in Queens, near LaGuardia Airport, he developed an early fascination with aircraft. He attended the High School of Aviation Trades and learned photography by working in a photography studio upon graduation.
Seidemann relocated to San Francisco, where he photographed members of the psychedelic rock bands, including Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead. He took the now famous portrait of a semi-nude Janis Joplin in 1967, which appeared in Rolling Stone following her death in 1970.
“Blind Faith” album cover for the supergroup featuring Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech, 1969.
Janis Joplin, 1967.
The Grateful Dead.
Seidemann was also associated with the psychedelic poster artists of the day, Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse and Wes Wilson, providing photographs used for rock concert posters. In a addition, he photographed and designed album covers for the Dead, Jerry Garcia’s first solo album, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. In all—he created over 60 albums covers over his career.
The “Big Five” San Francisco poster artists photographed by Seidemann. Left to right, Alton Kelly, Victor Moscosso, Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson, and Stanley Mouse.
Motherland,” Rock Poster: Big Brother and the Holding Company, Sir Douglas Quintet, Orkustra, Avalon Ballroom, Design by Rick Griffin, 1967
Design by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelly, 1968.
Design by Stanley Mouse, 1967.
Garcia, Jerry Garcia, design and photography by Bob Seidemann 1972.
Neil Young, On the Beach, design and photography by Bob Seidemann 1974.
Little Criminals, Randy Newman, 1977.
In the 1980s he returned to his original love, aircraft, and began photographing the wreckage of airplanes left behind at Air Force bases around Southern California. This led to portraits of aircraft designers, engineers and pilots, including World War II General James H. Doolittle, the designer of the B-1B bomber Walter Spivak, and the first pilot to break sound barrier General Chuck Yeager, among others. His career spanned 50 years. His work is in the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
General Chuck Yeager.
Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
Aircraft designer Alan Mullally with model of his 777 design.
Thank you and condolences to Belinda Seidemann.
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