Sunday, June 17, 2012


The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Run DMC, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Bruce Springsteen all of these musical titans have all been placed in front of the lens of rock and roll photographer Ken Regan. While those mentioned are enough to warrant an impressive resume, Regan has managed to not just capture these artists in concert or talking to the press but at their most intimate moments. From Dylans first encounter with Springsteen, to The Beatles arriving in the U.S. to the Rolling Stones having a joint before taking the stage, to Johnny Cash at his home, KISS in full make-up with their parents - moments like these are captured in Regan's book, All Access: The Rock 'N Roll Photography of Ken Regan. The book, released last fall, chronicles Regan's photographic career with stellar portraits of our favorite artists. We had the chance to speak to Regan about his career, book and life. Take a look at our interview below.

After all these years, what made you want to release a book of your brilliant work now?

I felt the time was right. We sold 130 books at the first book signing at the Morrison Hotel Gallery; I guess I was right.

When you were photographing these iconic bands, did you know they would go on to be legends? Was it the aura about them that you knew they would explode?

Yes, it was their music, their personalities and their commitment to being around for decades.

Who was your favorite to photograph?

The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

Who was the most difficult to capture?

At first, Bob Dylan.

Your photos are exactly what Keith Richards says in the introduction of the book, you “Capture the moment.” What advice do you give to novice photographers on how to capture those moments?

Either you have it or you don't; if you don't, then teach.

Some of the most amazing moments in the history of music you have taken. From Springsteen speaking with Bob Dylan to Kiss with their parents to The Beatles getting off the Pan Am flight. Which one of all the moments you have grabbed is your favorite and why?

One of my favorite moments was being the only one in the room when Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen met for the first time.

Did you always want to be a rock and roll photographer? How did you get involved with the acts?

I wanted to be a photographer who did everything; I liked the diversification of doing music, sports, politics, etc. It was all thanks to Bill Graham, the rock promoter.

Elvis, The Beatles, The Doors, Rolling Stones, Dylan. The heroes of rock and roll, you have worked with them all. Do you ever sit back and laugh all these years later and go “oh my God, this was my life?”

Yes. Every time I look at the photos and hear their music, I always have to pinch myself and say "Did I really take those? Was I really there?"

What was it like shooting The Beatles? Having that electricity and energy of the fans and buzz around them?

I was a very young photographer and they were the first big band that I photographed. To see the outpour at their arrival in New York, and the crowds around the hotel and the Ed Sullivan Show was
unbelievable. Who knew that this was the beginning of a major change in music.

What band or artist took you by the most surprise?

The Rolling Stones.

When you were shooting bands, the scene and sound was very dangerous, much different than it was today. Are you surprised that many of the musicians all did not end up a tragedy?

Yes, sadly we lost Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix; yet there were many other bands that did survive the drugs and are still around today.

Do you miss the dangerous times of rock and roll?

Yes, it was a dangerous time, yet very exciting.

What band of today would you like to work with?

There are a couple; Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and Coldplay.

Many of the photographs in the book take place in New York and the greater New York area. What is your favorite story that you would like to share about shooting someone in the city?

I was assigned to do a cover story on Mick Jagger for a British publication. At the time, Mick had a home on the upper west side. I went over to his home and started photographing. Mick was avid about working out, so I first began to photograph him with his trainer, then running in Riverside Park. I then photographed him walking through Central Park and then lunch at a Japanese restaurant. Mick was then invited down to Andy Warhol's factory and I had the chance to photograph the two of them together. The whole day it was just Mick and I; no publicists, no agents or body guards. Just a day in the life of Mick Jagger in New York City.