An Inside Look at 40 Years of Rock n' Roll
Neal Preston, one of rock n' roll's greatest photographers, is releasing a no-holds-barred look into his 40-year career chronicling the biggest names in music in the upcoming Neal Preston: Exhilarated and Exhausted.
Preston was the official tour photographer for Led Zeppelin, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, and The Who. He's also extensively shot The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, and many more. Over the years, these images have been showcased in magazines, newspapers, books, TV shows, films, and documentaries.
The book begins with a forward from his close friend, writer and film director Cameron Crowe (whose movie Almost Famous was based on his time at Rolling Stone). Crowe met Preston in 1972 at a Humble Pie concert:
"Together we were kids who hopped from circus to circus. Our shared fandom for the music and the artists we loved was infectious, I think, and I'm sure that was one of the reasons we often got access others didn't. Rolling Stone noticed too, and as I got more and more assignments, Neal and I honed our work mode into a joyous blizzard of experiencing shows and documenting it all for the precious few publications that then featured musicians like the ones we loved. Jackson Browne, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, The Eagles…soon I had a shoulder-bag like Neal's. Mine was filled with notebooks and interview cassettes. I'm not sure those early stories would have had the same fire if we hadn't seen the sunrise together, recapping our exploits, and pouring over who we'd met, and all we'd witnessed earlier in the evening. We had a nickname for ourselves—Team City.
Sometimes I feel like it's been one long, constantly surprising Team City assignment. Neal Preston has made a magnificent career, and more importantly a life out of the passion that lives in every frame he shoots. The artists themselves—from Zeppelin to Springsteen to Freddie Mercury to Ronnie Van Zant to Stevie Nicks and far beyond—have always sparked not just to his enormous skills but to his personality.
Within minutes, it seems, his subjects feel Neal's deep knowledge of the music, his grand sense of humor and his love of every cable, and every crew member that makes a tour happen. Artifices drop. Candor reigns. Jimmy Page tells Neal he's interested in him capturing the "power, romance, mystery and the Hammer of the Gods" in the photos. I write it. It becomes a phrase that rockets around the world.
Marvin Gaye, in his last major photo session, sees a compatriot in the adventure, he leans forward and tells Neal with a wink, "just make me look good for the ladies." Of course he does, but more importantly—the magical sense of community with Neal is right there in Marvin's soft stare."
Top image, Bob Marley. All images and the above excerpt © Neal Preston: Exhilarated and Exhausted, published by Reel Art Press 2017.
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