the Backroom

Lisa Marie Presley, Vanity Fair, and “Elvis at 21,” on Her Birthday Today

by Chris Murray on February 1, 2023  |  Leave a Comment »

Photo by Carlotta Hester/Govinda Gallery.

It was my good fortune to discover photographer and filmmaker, Alfred Wertheimer and his photographs of Elvis Presley in 1956. Alfred became a great friend and collaborator for over 20 years. I edited Wertheimer’s four books featuring his photographs of Elvis, and curated and organized over 25 remarkable exhibitions of his photographs in museums and galleries internationally. The first book we did together, Elvis at 21 (Insight Editions), featured an essay by Presley’s biographer, Peter Guralnick. I love that book, and it was a moment I’ll never forget in October of 2006 when I had the opportunity to present a copy of Elvis at 21 to Lisa Marie. She was performing with her band at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia for her second album Now What. I was able to meet with Lisa Marie at her tour bus and gave her a copy. She commented that she liked Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs and we took a photo together with the book. I thanked Lisa Marie, and she went on stage and put on a dynamite performance. Esteemed music critic Robert Hilburn wrote in 2003 of Lisa Marie and her “…powerful, hauntingly personal work,” and of her “…gutsy, blues-edged voice.”

Editor and author extraordinaire, David Friend, asked me to assist in editing the special photo supplement Icons of Rock that accompanied the last issue of Vanity Fair from the 20th century, which was December 1999. The text was written by the esteemed music writer, Lisa Robinson, and the cover featured Gered Mankowitz’s truly iconic portrait of Jimi Hendrix.

Tommy Hilfiger threw a great party in Los Angeles at his flagship store to launch the Icons of Rock issue, which he sponsored. I was at the party with photographer Bob Seidemann, who lived in Los Angeles. I included his remarkable portrait of Janis Joplin in 1967 wearing nothing but some beads that Seidemann happened to have in his studio, in the special Vanity Fair issue.

Janis Joplin, 1967 © Bob Seidemann.

Suddenly, I saw Lisa Marie arrive at the party with three or four of her friends. I wanted to say hello to Lisa Marie and I asked Seidemann to come with me as he was wearing the very same beads that Janis wore in the photograph. I thought Lisa Marie might enjoy meeting Bob and seeing him wearing the beads. When I said hello and introduced Lisa Marie to Bob, I showed her the photo of Janis that Bob had taken. She did indeed enjoy seeing that picture of Janis, and Bob wearing the very same beads that Janis wore! The DJ at the party was amazing, and I asked Lisa Marie if she’d like to dance. She said yes and we had a great time together. After a little while, her friends joined us on the dance floor. Lisa Marie was wonderful.


Remembering Lisa Marie on her birthday.


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From the Archive: Glen Friedman, Ian MacKaye, Eric Brace, and Govinda Gallery, June 6, 2000

by Patrick Pearse on January 25, 2023  |  Leave a Comment »

It was not long after the “turn of the century” in May of 2000 that Govinda Gallery presented the first exhibition of Glen Friedman’s photographs. Here is a short video of Friedman talking about meeting the MacKaye Brothers at a Bad Brains’ show, along with some commentary by Eric Brace and Chris Murray.

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Alexandra Pelosi, HBO, Oksana Markarova and The National Archives

by Chris Murray on January 12, 2023  |  Leave a Comment »

I was invited to the HBO screening at The National Archives of Alexandra Pelosi’s latest film, Pelosi In The House. I am a fan of documentary films and Alexandra Pelosi has made 15 of them, including Journeys with George (which was nominated for 6 Grammy’s), Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County, and The Words That Built America, among others. Alexandra is my favorite documentary filmmaker.

After the screening there was a wonderful reception at the National Archives where I met the Ambassador from Ukraine, Oksana Markarova, along with filmmaker Pelosi, two extraordinary women. It was a compelling evening.

Left to right: Alexandra Pelosi, Chris Murray and Ambassador Markarova. Photo by Carlotta Hester.

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Henry Grossman 1937-2022

by Chris Murray on January 6, 2023  |  Comments Off on Henry Grossman 1937-2022

Govinda Gallery was pleased to present Kaleidoscope Eyes: A Day in the Life of Sgt. Pepper in 2008, featuring Henry Grossman’s rarely-seen photographs of The Beatles during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, arguably the most iconic and influential album of all time. This is the first exhibition of Henry Grossman’s remarkable photographs of The Beatles.

Taken during a single night’s session–as the band recorded “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”—these photographs offer a compelling portrait of four of the most popular and publicized figures of the 20th century. Grossman’s uniquely intimate account documents The Beatles’ captivating individual personalities while attesting to their collaborative power at their creative peak.

Henry Grossman’s career began in the early 1960s. As a contributing photographer for TimeLifeNewsweek, and People Magazine, Grossman covered a variety of important figures, including Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, Nelson Mandela, Duke Ellington and Truman Capote. Grossman gained unprecedented access to President John F. Kennedy in the White House and abroad. Through his work he also befriended The Beatles and went to Abbey Road Studios to photograph them during the legendary Sgt. Pepper session.

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GAELIA! Donovan’s Just-Released Album Featuring David Gilmour, Nigel Kennedy, Sharon Shannon and More

by Chris Murray on December 14, 2022  |  Comments Off on GAELIA! Donovan’s Just-Released Album Featuring David Gilmour, Nigel Kennedy, Sharon Shannon and More

Donovan’s latest album GAELIA is remarkable. A great tribute to his Gaelic-Irish roots. The amazing David Gilmour is featured on the single, “Rock On,” along with a bounty of other musical artists joining Donovan on this beautiful CD.

Enjoy the album cover visuals, as well as the vintage photos of Donovan and David Gilmour below.

Here is a link to a sample of all the songs via Donovan’s website, where one can also order the CD.


Donovan by Baron Wolman, 1968. From the photo session for the first interview in Rolling Stone Magazine.


David Gilmour by Barrie Wentzel, 1975.

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Carlotta Hester and Tom Meyer Featured in New Addison/Ripley Exhibition

by Chris Murray on December 8, 2022  |  Comments Off on Carlotta Hester and Tom Meyer Featured in New Addison/Ripley Exhibition

Addison/Ripley Fine Arts in Georgetown are opening a compelling exhibition this Saturday called ART + NFT. This innovative exhibition features 20 artists, with each artist exhibiting an original work along with an NFT of that work. It is sure to be a dynamic exhibition.

Two of our favorite artists are included in the exhibition, Tom Meyer and Carlotta Hester. The opening is this Saturday, December 10, from 5 to 7pm.

Carlotta Hester, Ritual Reaction, 2022.

Tom Meyer, Back Room Deal, 2020.

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Ronnie Wood’s 35th Anniversary Exhibition at Govinda Gallery!

by Chris Murray on December 5, 2022  |  Comments Off on Ronnie Wood’s 35th Anniversary Exhibition at Govinda Gallery!

It was 35 years ago today that guitarist extroadinaire Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones had his first exhibition in America at Govinda Gallery. The occasion was also the launch of Ronnie’s first book The Works (Harper & Row). Ronnie spent two days at Govinda and it was a blast! The afternoon a day before the exhibition’s opening Ronnie signed copies of The Works at Govinda and the line to see him went all the way down 34th street in Georgetown, and around the corner. Ronnie was most gracious and his fans loved meeting him.

Ronnie Wood signing copies of The Works. Govinda Gallery director Chris Murray next to Ronnie. December 4th, 1987.  © Govinda Gallery Archive

The poster for Ronnie Wood’s exhibition and book signing, inscribed “4 Chris and the GOVINDA.”

Chris Murray introducing Ronnie Wood to Washington Post music critic, Richard Harrington. It was a great night at Govinda Gallery. Photograph by Peter Crook.

The 70s from Ronnie Wood’s Decades series. David Bowie, Rod Stewart, John Lydon.

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Jimi Hendrix’s 80th Birthday

by Patrick Pearse on November 27, 2022  |  Comments Off on Jimi Hendrix’s 80th Birthday

Jimi Hendrix at Mason’s Yard, London, 1967. © Gered Mankowitz.

Today would be Jimi Hendrix’s 80th birthday. Jimi was the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ at what he did. Here is a link to John Kelly’s story in the Washington Post about Govinda Gallery director Chris Murray’s evening with Jimi Hendrix, as well as Murray’s post from The Back Room in 2018 with additional images for Hendrix fans. Happy birthday Jimi!

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Happy Birthday Alfred Wertheimer!

by Chris Murray on November 16, 2022  |  Comments Off on Happy Birthday Alfred Wertheimer!

Today would be photographer and filmmaker Alfred Wertheimer’s 93rd birthday. My 20 years working with Alfred was the most productive collaboration I had with a photographer. We published four major books together and I curated over 20 exhibitions of his photographs in museums and galleries. His photographs of Elvis Presley are simply the best ever taken of an American musical artist. Happy Birthday Alfred!

The Kiss. Photograph by Alfred Wertheimer.

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Sound & Vision, Elvis and Junior Marvin at 1310 Kitchen & Bar!

by Patrick Pearse on October 21, 2022  |  Comments Off on Sound & Vision, Elvis and Junior Marvin at 1310 Kitchen & Bar!

Last week Jenn Crovato, Chef extraordinaire and proprietor of 1310 Kitchen & Bar in Georgetown, Washington DC, hosted Sound & Vision Monumental Rock & Roll Photography featuring an illustrated talk and book signing with Chris Murray, Director of Govinda Gallery.  The event also featured food favored by many of the music icons seen in the Sound & Vision presentation. The event was fully subscribed, and everyone had a great time.

Chris Murray speaking at restaurant 1310 in Georgetown

Elvis Presley, 1956, NYC by Alfred Wertheimer.

Everyone who attended was knocked out by the surprise guest Junior Marvin, lead guitar with Bob Marley & The Wailers, a friend of Chris Murray and Govinda Gallery.

Peter Goldstone who co-organized the Sound & Vision presentation, with his new friend Junior Marvin.

Bob Marley by Kate Simon.

Scott Peters from True Fire being introduced to Junior Marvin by Chris Murray.

Classic Jimi by Gered Mankowitz.

After the presentation there was a book signing for the guests featuring the just published Elvis (Taschen, 2022) co-authored by Chris Murray with Alfred Wertheimer featuring his legendary photographs of Elvis Presley in 1956. Other titles included in the signing also co-authored by Murray were Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964 (Rizzoli) featuring Ted Russell’s photographs and Patti Smith American Artist (Insight Editions), featuring Frank Stefanko’s photographs.

Govinda Gallery’s David Murray and Fabiola Castro, ready for the book signing.

Madonna by Claude Gassian.

Murray signing books.

Patti Smith by Frank Stefanko.

Music fan Sarah Leggin having her copy of Elvis signed.

Tupac Shakur by Danny Clinch.

After the show… L to R.. Junior Marvin, David Murray, Fabiola Castro, Carlotta Hester, Chris Murray, Peter Goldstone, and Jenn Crovato.

Beatles Pillow Fight by Harry Benson.

Sound & Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography began at The Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia and travelled to six other museums. The photographers featured in that exhibition and in Murray’s talk are Danny Clinch, Harry Benson, Joel Brodsky, Barry Feinstein, Claude Gassian, Greg Gorman, Art Kane, Daniel Kramer, Gered Mankowitz, Jonathan Mannion, Jim Marshall, Mick Rock, Mark Seliger, Kate Simon, Pennie Smith, Frank Stefanko, Jurgen Vollmer, Dick Waterman, Alfred Wertheimer, and Baron Wolman. 

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