Joni Mitchell, master songsmith and storyteller, eight-time Grammy winner and folk music pioneer is the inspiration for JONI, Morrison Hotel Gallery’s upcoming photography exhibit and sale opening on Friday, November 16th at both the Sunset Marquis Hotel location in Los Angeles, at the New York City gallery on Prince Street in SoHo, and the gallery in Maui at Mick Fleetwood’s General Store and restaurant.
For over five decades, Joni Mitchell’s evocative lyrics have stirred fans throughout the world. Her confessional songwriting style paired with a mastery of blues- and jazz-inspired piano and guitar has inspired legions of musicians. Whether she was singing about escaping heartbreak on “The River,” baring her soul in “A Case of You,” or taking on environmental issues with “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell’s life and work are explored at the Morrison Hotel Gallery through the photography of world-renowned photographers who have worked with her over the years.
The show will include the photography of Joel Bernstein, Jay Blakesberg, Henry Diltz, David Gahr, Guido Harari, Graham Nash, Amalie R. Rothschild, Norman Seeff, Rowland Scherman, Bonnie Schiffman, Baron Wolman and Charlyn Zlotnik – and the stories behind their artistic collaborations. JONI will explore the extraordinary collections of images taken during the various eras of Mitchell’s career, starting with 1967 Newport Folk Festival, Laurel Canyon and her Blue period on through the late 90’s.
Morrison Hotel Gallery co-owner Peter Blachley is pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate the journey and career of this music icon through the photos of those who have worked most closely with her over the years. “Morrison Hotel Gallery is proud to represent the world-class talents of a group of photographers who together have taken some of the most beautiful and timeless images of Joni Mitchell – an artist who many consider to be one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century,” he said.
The first photographs that Joel Bernstein developed and printed by himself at age 14 were of a then-unknown Joni Mitchell performing at The Second Fret, a small coffee house in Philadelphia. Visiting her backstage at another club the following year, when she was touring in support of her first album, he took a photo of her. Upon seeing a print at a show soon after, she told him, “That’s the best picture of me anyone has ever taken; would you be my photographer?” She later invited him to photograph her first concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall, where he was introduced to Graham Nash, David Crosby, and Leonard Cohen. Joel traveled to Los Angeles at Joni’s request to be part of a photo shoot that she did with Joel and Henry Diltz simultaneously at her home in Laurel Canyon; Joel ended up moving to Topanga Canyon. After taking the photographs for her For The Roses LP (1972), he moved to San Francisco, still photographing her at her homes and on concert tours for over 40+ years, including his evocative photograph of her skating on a frozen lake for the gatefold of her Hejira album in 1976. Joni chose this and 14 other images from this series to make up the package of her 2005 compilation Songs Of A Prairie Girl.
Jay Blakesberg is a San Francisco-based photographer and filmmaker who regularly contributes music photography to Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Relix, and many other magazines. He has photographed many musical artists, including the Grateful Dead, BB King, Phish, Radiohead, Tom Petty, Ben Harper, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Neil Young and Carlos Santana to name just a few. His photography has been included in over 200 CD packages, 100’s of magazines worldwide, and he has published thirteen coffee table books of his music photography. Taken at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco in between the release of her Turbulent Indigo and Taming the Tiger albums, Blakesberg’s portraits of Mitchell are ones of quiet reflection.
Joni Mitchell’s fellow Laurel Canyon resident Henry Diltz started snapping shots of his friends in the mid-60s. Along with photos of artists such as David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Neil Young, he photographed the epochal Lady of the Canyon in her element and the formative years that would inspire Blue, the 1971 studio album widely considered Joni Mitchell’s greatest artistic achievement. More of Diltz’s photos show Mitchell playing songs at Mama Cass’ house with David Crosby and Eric Clapton – songs that would eventually premiere on her debut album; Mitchell snuggling with Graham Nash in the back seat of a car while writing lyrics to her love song about him “Willy” and an endearing portrait of the artist as she is seen through the windowsill of the house that was “Our House” as Nash recounts in Crosby, Stills and Nash’s hit song.
David Gahr (1922-2008) began his photography career in 1958, when Folkways Records founder Moses Asch recognized his skill and hired him to photograph album covers for musicians including Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Gahr’s images shaped the perception of the music of the 60s and 70s for a growing popular audience, retaining a dignified authenticity that appealed to a new generation of artists rejecting commercialism. He was behind the scenes at the Newport Folk Festival in 1967 when a relatively unknown singer-songwriter by the name of Joni Mitchell took the stage only to leave to standing ovations and a thunderous roar of cheers and applause, rendering classic these rare images of the bright-eyed and burgeoning artist.
“I met Joni in 1983 during her last European tour. We hit it off immediately and she always made me feel as an equal. To her, we were both artists, speaking the same language, in a kind of telepathic way. I photographed her many times under all circumstances: on the road, in concert, in a photo studio setting, working on her paintings exhibitions, at her home in Bel Air. We loved to experiment and bring down all barriers, and most of all have fun doing it. One sitting at her house lasted 15 hours, just because the conversation would never stop and we would try to use every possible prop in sight. She pretended she’d never noticed her resemblance to a beautiful wooden mask from British Columbia. So, I urged to make herself up, so that the make-up would match the mask’s and pose with it. It was too late and she didn’t have the right kind of make-up, so we gave it a good try but had to forget about it. Well, she did not forget and use the idea in her video for ‘Two Grey Rooms’!” – Guido Harari
Graham Nash is a lifelong photographer and co-founder of the rock group Crosby, Stills and Nash. While best known as a musician, Nash first became famous as a member of The Hollies during the British Invasion of the mid 1960’s. He has also pursued a parallel career as a photographer, collector, and digital imaging pioneer.
Like any great love song, the idyllic union of Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash was short and bittersweet, leaving traces behind through inspired classic songs that include “River”, “Our House” and “My Old Man”. Nash offers an intimate glimpse into the folk icon as seen through his fly-on-the-wall, non-intrusive style.
Ken Regan developed a passion for photography at a very young age. Raised in the Bronx, his world was New York City and it was in New York City that he would cut his teeth as a photojournalist. From the New York Yankees to the Fillmore East, Ken’s unparalleled knack for capturing a moment quickly paved his way to becoming a respected member of the press community. No story was ever out of reach for him to cover. He could walk into an event without a press pass, and walk out with the next cover of Newsweek or Time.Ken’s work appeared in countless magazines over his vast career and he garnered numerous awards for his work. In the 1970’s, Rolling Stone named Ken as one of their Seven Masters of Photography. Ken’s work has also been exhibited in galleries all over the globe. He authored many books, including such highly-regarded titles as Knockout: The Art Of Boxing and All Access: The Rock N’ Roll Photography Of Ken Regan.
AMALIE R. ROTHSCHILD
Amalie R. Rothschild is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer noted for her documentaries about social issues as revealed through the lives of people in the arts, and for her music photographs from the Fillmore East, Woodstock and other seminal rock events and venues from 1968 to 1974. Her images of Joni Mitchell from the April 1969 concert at the Fillmore East capture more than a moment in time; these rare images capture the stirring emotion and essence of the music that has made Mitchell a fixture in the musical canon.
Rowland Scherman studied Fine Arts at Oberlin College. In 1957, he was the dark room apprentice at LIFE magazine, and upon returning to college he began a photographic career that has spanned nearly a half a century. In 1968, he won a Grammy Award for that year’s Best Album Cover, as well as the Washington DC Art Director’s Award for Photographer of the Year. Now living in Cape Cod, Rowland Scherman returned to his first love, portraiture, and is continually inspired, as so many artists are, by the majestic Cape light.
Over the past three decades, Bonnie Schiffman has photographed hundreds of celebrities, from George Burns to Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Child to Joni Mitchell, Muhammad Ali to Warren Buffet-all of whom have appeared in the most important American and international magazines. The energy and spontaneity that Bonnie brings to her work give rise to her unique images; we get a new, direct, and honest perspective on her subjects, often characterized by a lightness of touch that is the apparent result of spontaneous interaction between photographer and subject. Lauri Kratochvil, former photo director for Rolling Stone and InStyle magazine, said it best: “Bonnie doesn’t put herself in the picture. She lets people do what they do so you don’t get the celebrity, you get the person.”
Norman Seeff is credited with capturing the cover art for Joni Mitchell’s 1976’s Hejira and 1977’s Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter. It is a creative partnership that has lasted for over 40 years. Mitchell and Norman Seeff, a rock-and-roll photographer with a host of legendary subjects in his portfolio, did some of their best work together. Mitchell was a truly authentic subject, able to surrender herself to the art and express herself freely within his lens. Sharing more than a dozen sessions over the course of more than a decade, the photographer has captured the many facets of her personality in some of her most famous images. Seeff’s new book Joni Mitchell: The Norman Seeff Sessions is the culmination of their partnership. Timed to release on Joni’s 75th birthday, this collection of familiar and rare imagery tracks the pair’s history together through exclusive moments captured on film.
Baron Wolman’s iconic music photography included shots on-stage with Jimi Hendrix, backstage with the Rolling Stones, and in front of the stage with Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. Grace Slick and the Grateful Dead performed for the camera in his Haight-Ashbury studio. Wolman was Rolling Stone‘s first staff photographer, but he wasn’t on assignment for Rolling Stone when he photographed a 25-year-old Joni Mitchell in her Laurel Canyon home. Rather, he was there for a counterculture magazine called EYE. Wolman captured brilliant color shots of Mitchell for EYE (a unique endeavor for him because at the time, Rolling Stone couldn’t print photos in color). He also took a few black-and-white photos for Rolling Stone – one of which later became a Rolling Stone cover. After the shoot, he and Mitchell had a wonderful time sitting around, drinking tea, and chatting in the very house that inspired the classic Graham Nash-penned “Our House.”
Charlyn Zlotnik began her career photographing musicians in Austin and around her home state of Texas and continued after moving to New York. Her photography includes most genres of music, with artists ranging from B.B. King, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Miles Davis and the Rolling Stones. Charlyn’s photographs have appeared in publications that include The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, Life and Rolling Stone and book covers of David Halberstam’s Firehouse and Rich Kienzle’s The Grand Tour – The Life and Music of George Jones.
About Morrison Hotel® Gallery
Morrison Hotel® Gallery (MHG) was founded in 2001 by former record company executive Peter Blachley, music retail industry professional Richard Horowitz, and legendary music photographer Henry Diltz. In 2012, author, director and photographer Timothy White joined the team, launching an additional West Coast gallery at The Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. In 2016, the gallery launched its third location at Mick Fleetwood’s General Store in Maui, Hawaii.
MHG is the world’s leading brand in fine art music photography representing over 125 of the world’s finest music photographers and their archives. Their vast catalog of photography encompasses jazz, blues, and rock imagery spanning several generations through to today’s contemporary music artists and now includes iconic photographs in the world of sports as well. MHG has a robust online presence, featuring over 100,000 images searchable by photographer, music artist, band or concert.www.morrisonhotelgallery.com
Morrison Hotel Gallery
116 Prince Street || New York, NY 10012
Morrison Hotel Gallery
1200 Alta Loma Road || West Hollywood, CA 90069
Morrison Hotel Gallery
Fleetwood’s General Store
744 Front Street || Lahaina, Hawaii 96761