Baron Wolman, First Chief Photographer for Rolling Stone, RIP

by Chris Murray on November 4, 2020
Baron Wolman on stage at Woodstock, August 16, 1969, while Santana performs. Photo by Bill Graham.

Baron Wolman was among the first photographers I exhibited at Govinda Gallery to feature musical artists. In July of 1994, he and I co-curated the exhibition “Woodstock: Photographs,” which also included photographers Henry Diltz, Lisa Law, Joe Sia, and Elliot Landy. It was a great exhibition documenting both the performers and the historic scene at the now legendary festival.

John Sebastian performing at Woodstock. Photo by Baron Wolman, 1969.

In June of 1996, I exhibited Baron’s first one-man show at Govinda, “Baron Wolman: My Generation.”  That exhibition was also a launch for his book, Classic Rock & Other Rollers. Both Baron, who was on hand to autograph his book, and the gallery visitors had a great time during that exhibition, with music playing to accompany the photographs which included George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, The Grateful Dead, Little Richard, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash and many more.

George Harrison at Apple Records, London 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

Baron was also featured in the epic traveling museum exhibition, “Sound & Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography,” which I curated and co-organized with the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Georgia. His large-format photos of Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger were remarkable. His photos from that exhibition were seen in five major museums throughout the south.

Janis Joplin, San Francisco 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

Mick Jagger, on the set of Performance, London, 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

One of the most wonderful pastimes Baron and I shared together was in Salamanca, Spain in the fall of 2008. The contemporary art museum in Salamanca, Domus Artium, had organized a truly extraordinary group of exhibitions that filled the entire museum on the subject of music as seen through a variety of visual arts. Baron and I were brought to Salamanca by the museum for the opening of the exhibitions. Baron was part of a major group show of photographs. It was a great pleasure for me to curate the exhibition, “Elvis at 21: The Photographs of Alfred Wertheimer,” for the museum. We had a blast walking the ancient streets of Old Salamanca together.

Domus Artium Museum, Salamanca, Spain.

In 2012, I edited the book Rolling Stones: 50 x 20 (Insight Editions).  In that book, I included a section devoted to Baron’s photographs of The Stones.  I interviewed Baron for the book and he said to me, “The Stones are the ultimate Rock & Roll band.  Every time you go to a show, you get so energized you have to dance right in your seat.”

Keith Richards, Oakland, California, 1978. Photo by Baron Wolman.

The thing about Baron Wolman is that he was one of the kindest people I ever worked with and was always a gentleman. He gave me every opportunity to make the exhibitions I organized of his photographs successful and a pleasure. I loved Baron and will miss his cheerful demeanor. Baron and I continued to work together right up to these days. His stunning large scale images of Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa are on permanent display at Hamilton Live, the music venue in downtown Washington D.C.

Frank Zappa, Los Angeles, 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

The last two photographs I recently bought from Baron for my own collection were two color images of Bob Dylan and Fats Dominoe. I love them both.

Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming tour, 1980.
Fats Domino, Backstage Las Vegas, 1968.

The first-ever interview in Rolling Stone magazine was with Donovan. Here is a shot by Baron Wolman of Donovan from that photo session to accompany the interview in November 1967.

Donovan from Rolling Stone shoot, 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has just opened a retrospective exhibition of Baron Wolman’s photographs.

Baron Wolman’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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