Morrison Hotel Gallery will present Rock Palaces of New York, The Fillmore East and The Academy of Music featuring long lost photographs by Bill Green from rock’s halcyon days.
In late 1972, 14-year-old rock photographer hopeful Bill Green began sneaking into the legendary Academy of Music in New York City to snap photos of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars. His images quickly caught the eye of promoter Howard Stein who offered Bill full access in exchange for prints of his stylized black and white images. For the next three years, Bill photographed every show that came through NYC, including icons like Kiss, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Iggy Pop, Jethro Tull, The Who, Joe Cocker, Santana, and ZZ Top.
From the late 1960s until the mid 1970s, New York City legendary live music venues The Fillmore East and The Academy of Music were the places to experience rock ‘n’ roll transcendence. The FE was the venue for many of the era’s most mythical rock shows, while the Academy hosted early U.S. appearances by the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark 5, as well as Blue Öyster Cult, the Stooges, and Black Sabbath.
Eventually, Bill grew up grew up, and his life moved away from rock n’ roll. His catalog of some 20,000 images has been packed away for the last 40 years, until now. These incredible images will be part of a new show Rock Palaces of New York, The Fillmore East and The Academy of Music at New York’s Morrison Hotel Gallery, featuring the golden period of the NYC rock scene.
Morrison Hotel Gallery, a fixture in New York, showcasing era-defining moments in music history with its fine art photography, calls this new exhibition is a time capsule exhibit taking us back to when rock n’ roll was “shamanistic, glamorous, and outrageous.” Witty and insightful vignettes accompany each image by Bill Green and award-winning filmmaker and photographer Amalie R. Rothschild from insiders and, in some cases, the artists themselves.
Herewith, five questions with Bill on his early obsession with photography, picking up girls, and how The Image Flow’s own Stuart Schwartz helped save a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll history.
When did you pick up your first camera?
I took my first photos when I was nine or ten with my Dad’s camera. I got a Konica 35mm camera when I was 11, as I had become pretty passionate (my folks would say ‘obsessed’) with photography by that time.
How did you decide to sneak in to the Academy of Music that first day?
Since I wasn’t a rock star, I figured that having photos of rock stars would be the second best way to get girls. I had no idea how hard it would be to take photos of these guys jumping around on a stage, with colored lights on them, too far away for a flash and with bouncers pulling on me—all of that came later. In hindsight, it’s amazing I got any photos at all!
Did you keep any of your images? Or did you give them all to Howard Stein?
I kept all the negatives and copies of all of the prints that I gave to Howard Stein. When I left NYC in 1979, I packed the negatives away in my Mom’s attic and took the prints. The following year my apartment at Hallam Place, off of Folsom Street between 7th and 8th Street—and two entire city blocks—were destroyed in the worst San Francisco fire since the earthquake. All of the prints were lost. The negatives sat untouched in my Mom’s attic for forty years, until I met Stuart and the Image Flow, without whom they would still be in the attic!
Do you have a favorite image?
I’d have to say the Johnny Winter image where he is standing playing the guitar is the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll in that era. But no, not one favorite…
Did you ever consider photography as a career?
Not exclusively, as I am passionate about many things. I do some pro work these days, shooting fashion for my wonderful wife, Margaret O’Leary, a very successful fashion designer who allows me to photograph all of her collections.
The show will run Friday, May 8 thru Wednesday June 3, at Morrison Hotel Gallery, in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood. All of Bill’s prints that will hang in the Morrison Hotel Gallery were printed at The Image Flow.