Henry Diltz, the Seventies, and Beautiful Ugly Dudes

The Auckland Art Gallery (where I work) has this show on at the moment Who Shot Rock and Roll, and I was pretty skeptical and dismissive of it at first because it is so obviously a crowd-pleaser, and, you know, meant to draw in those crowds. I also thought maybe it would be a bit cheesy? Like embarassingly baby-boomerish or something (there is a lot of Mick Jagger in there). But then I saw it for the first time and, damnit, it's pretty cool. I'm slowly falling in love with Elvis Presley (who really reminds me of R-Patz!) and I wish this was the first photo I'd ever seen of Amy Winehouse, because she looks so tough and soft and mysterious all at the same time, and I would have thought to myself "who is this person? Man I really have to hear her stuff". Instead my initiation into Winehouse was a retail job where the other shop girls played her on repeat all day, every day. They ruined her for me before there was a chance.

But by far my favourite inclusion in the exhibition is a slideshow of something like 80 photographs from Henry Diltz. I didn't realise before this exhibition, but Diltz is the author of some of my favourite music photographs of all time. He is special because he takes Crosby, Stills and Nash (and Young!) - some of the ugliest dudes in rock ever (second maybe to Spinal Tap) - and can make them look angelic and serene.

Ok maybe David Crosby is always pretty hairy and goofy looking, but you don't notice so much in Diltz's photographs. Just look at these photos to realise what feats Diltz achieves in the portraits above.

Diltz took huge amounts of photos of Neil Young, who I am just going to go out and say is my number one favourite musician ever. And the first photo in this next series is my favourite photo of him.

Richard Pryor, David Cassidy and Jackson Browne are some of the others who were photographed by Diltz. Who knows how that David Cassidy photo came about but it's hilarious. And, well, Pryor could do anything and it would be hilarious.

He also makes those photos in which you catch yourself getting nostalgic for, and wishing you were in, the seventies. Which is all very silly for you to do because you never experienced the seventies and it didn't have the internet for god's sake. But still, it's a special kind of photo which does that to you. In these photos you can almost hear that folk-rock soundtrack.

Aaaaand let's finish with adorable animal photographs. What guys.

all images from Morrison Hotel Gallery

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