the Backroom

Happy Birthday, Alfred Wertheimer!

by Chris Murray on November 16, 2023  |  2 Comments »

Alfred Wertheimer would be 94 today. He took the finest photos ever of a rock star… they happen to be of Elvis Presley in 1956. It was my great pleasure to be the editor of Alfred’s four books of his photographs of Elvis Presley, as well as my collaborating with Alfred as the curator of over 20 museum exhibitions of his work. Rock on Alfred!

Alfred Wertheimer at his Grammy Museum exhibition, January 2010, Los Angeles.

With his RCA portable transistor 7 radio blasting away in the back of a local cab from the train station, Elvis is about to leave for the Hotel Jefferson, where he was staying. He had two performances that day, at the Mosque Theater that afternoon and evening. Richmond, VA. June 30, 1956. Photo by Alfred Wertheimer.

From left to right: Govinda Gallery Director Chris Murray, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Alfred Wertheimer. Celebrating the launch of Alfred Wertheimer’s exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC at a party at Halcyon House in Georgetown, hosted by John Dreyfuss and Govinda Gallery Director, Chris Murray, October 22, 2010. Photo by Vivienne Foster.

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David Fenton’s SHOTS Exhibition Invitation!

by Chris Murray on October 2, 2023  |  Comments Off on David Fenton’s SHOTS Exhibition Invitation!


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Sinead O’Connor – The Parting Glass

by Chris Murray in Ireland on July 29, 2023  |  2 Comments »

Sinead O’Connor, Paris, 1992
© Claude Gassian

Of all the money that e’er I had,
I spent it in good company,
And all the harm I’ve ever done,
Alas it was to none but me.
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To mem’ry now I can’t recall,
So fill to me the parting glass,
Goodnight, and joy be to you all.
“The Parting Glass”

Claude Gassian’s photographs are available from Govinda Gallery.

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David Fenton’s SHOTS Exhibition in Havana!

by Patrick Pearse on June 21, 2023  |  1 Comment »

Protestors in the Reflecting Pool during an antiwar march, Washington, D.C., May 9, 1970.

Govinda Gallery is pleased to announce David Fenton’s exhibition of photographs SHOTS: An American Photographer’s Journal, 1967-1972opening December 1st in Havana, Cuba at the Center for Contemporary Art Wifredo Lam.

Felipe Luciano, co-founder of the Young Lords Party,Newark, NJ, July 23, 1970.

Norman Mailer wrote about Fenton’s photographs that “These pictures are extraordinary. They capture the last couple of years of the 60s more closely than anything I know.”

Women rally for their rights during a protest in support of the Black Panther Party, New Haven, CT, November, 1969.

Fenton’s photographs are featured in the book SHOTS (Earth Aware Editions), edited and compiled by Fenton archivist, Lely Constantinople, and Govinda Gallery Director, Chris Murray.

Protestors arrested during the Days of Rage, Chicago, IL, October 11, 1969.

All are welcome at the exhibition.

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Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and Nils Lofgren, with Donovan and Linda!

by Chris Murray on June 1, 2023  |  Comments Off on Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and Nils Lofgren, with Donovan and Linda!

Dublin was abuzz with Bruce Springsteen in town for three sold out shows at RDS Arena earlier this month. Photographer and special assistant to Donovan, Lawson Slater, told me that “excitement was in the air.” Donovan was in Dublin on May 4th to be a special guest for a show at Dublin’s Olympia Theater. Bruce Springsteen happened to be out for dinner with the legendary Irish musical artist, Shane McGowan and his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke. Donovan’s name came up at the dinner, and Bruce told Shane that, “’Catch the Wind’ was one of the first songs he learned.” Bruce asked about Donovan’s whereabouts and the next thing you know, Bruce Springsteen welcomed Donovan to the RDS Arena for his soundcheck. Donovan and his wife Linda spent a magical evening with Bruce and the E Street Band.

Here are some terrific photographs taken by Lawson Slater of a very special get-together. In the photo below I enjoy seeing my friend, photographer Danny Clinch, working in the background. Danny’s first exhibition was at Govinda Gallery.

Little Steven Van Zandt greeting Donovan. Photo by Lawson Slater.

Nils Lofgren enjoys meeting Donovan. Photo by Lawson Slater.

Bruce, Linda, and Donovan embracing. Photo by Lawson Slater.

Bruce Springsteen in concert in Dublin. Photo by Lawson Slater.

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Donovan, Bruce Springsteen, Harry Belafonte, and the Bob Dylan Center!

by Chris Murray on May 10, 2023  |  2 Comments »

Photo by Lawson Slater

Today is Donovan’s birthday, and I celebrate it with this terrific photograph of Donovan and his wife Linda last weekend with Bruce Springsteen in Dublin. Donovan said, “It was wonderful for Linda and I to visit Bruce yesterday, at his soundcheck in Dublin, and to hear from him, that my music and harmonica playing was an important part of his youth. Bruce, I am also inspired by all you do. Love, Donovan and Linda.”

So much has been written when the great Harry Belafonte passed on last month. And rightly so, as Belafonte is a genuine hero of our times and a legendary creative artist. Leave it to Donovan to have recorded an extraordinary tribute album to Harry Belafonte in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, just a few years ago. When Belafonte had the ‘first listen’ to Donovan’s album Jump In The Line he wrote Donovan that “By your presence, the future is in good hands…” referring to Belafonte’s own musical legacy. I was fortunate to be with Donovan and his wife Linda in Jamaica for the two weeks recording that tribute album. Donovan is so cool to appreciate Harry so much to make a tribute album while Harry could enjoy it.

Photo by Chris Murray

And just two weeks ago the remarkable Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, launched “Becoming Bob Dylan” the exhibition of Ted Russell’s photographs of Dylan in New York City from 1961 to 1964. Donovan wrote the Foreword to that collection of photographs in Russell’s book Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964 (Rizzoli). The introductory text panel to the exhibition quotes some apt words from Donovan for the Dylan exhibition:

“You see in these amazing photos a Poet
Balancing there on the edge of his world
Smiling at chance and yet knowing for certain
…Only the dream is real”

Photos by Chris Murray

Happy Birthday Donovan!!

Donovan’s Sapphograph’s and Ted Russell’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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Bob Dylan Center Exhibition Interview with Chris Murray on WTOP

by Patrick Pearse on April 17, 2023  |  Comments Off on Bob Dylan Center Exhibition Interview with Chris Murray on WTOP

Becoming Bob Dylan: Earliest photos capture music legend before he was famous

by Neal Augenstein

The earliest professional photos of a then-unknown 19-year-old Bob Dylan in 1961, which capture the future legend in the vibrant folk music scene in New York City, will soon be the focus of an exhibition at the Bob Dylan Center, curated by Chris Murray, founder of Govinda Gallery — a longtime staple in Georgetown.

Murray said he’s honored to bring the exhibition, “Becoming Bob Dylan Dylan: Photographs by Ted Russell 1961-1964,” to the recently-opened Bob Dylan Center.

“The Bob Dylan Center, via the Kaiser family in Tulsa, bought Bob Dylan’s person archive for $29 million dollars,” said Murray. “Having that archive, they constructed a museum to house it, and it’s an extraordinary place.”

Why Tulsa?

“They did it there, because next door is the Woody Guthrie Center. Woody Guthrie was born in Oklahoma, and Bob was a disciple of Woody,” said Murray. “The reason Bob Dylan came to New York in 1961 was to see Woody Guthrie, who was lying in a hospital bed, dying.”

In 1961, Russell, a freelance photographer, whose images have appeared in Life, Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Time, was on the lookout for good subjects. He was intrigued when he heard about an up-and-coming folk singer, who was about to release his first album.

“These were the first professional photos ever taken of Bob Dylan,” said Murray. “Ted Russell’s 94 now — he was a Life magazine photographer, which is the gold standard in photography, great photojournalism.”

Russell’s 1961 photos show Dylan performing at Gerde’s Folk City, writing and practicing in his tiny apartment in Greenwich Village that he shared with girlfriend Suze Rotolo.

Bob Dylan in his Greenwich Village apartment, in early 1962. (Ted Russell/Govinda Gallery)

When Russell photographed Dylan in November 1961, at Gerde’s Folk City, “Dylan’s first album had been recorded, but not yet released,” said Murray. “Bob was, no pun intended, a complete unknown,” referencing a lyric from “Like a Rolling Stone” that Dylan wouldn’t write until 1965.

At the time, Dylan was mostly performing folk classics written by other artists. His first album, titled “Bob Dylan,” contained only two songs written by the Minnesota-born Robert Zimmerman.

Bob Dylan performs at Gerde’s Folk City in the East Village, in Nov. 1961. (Ted Russell/Govinda Gallery)

“Ted’s photos of Bob in his early days show him wearing a great Greek fisherman’s cap,” said Murray. “That’s what Woody wore, too.”

Many of Russell’s photos show an unguarded Dylan, carrying a box of items as he and Rotolo moved into their apartment, “on 4th Street, as in ‘Positively 4th Street,’” the title of a 1965 single for Dylan.

In 1962, Bob Dylan in his Greenwich Village apartment with his then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo. (Ted Russell/Govinda Gallery)

Russell photographed Dylan two more times, after the release of his first albums, as his fame grew, and as his records contained more songs he’d written.

In 1963, on an assignment for Life magazine, Russell photographed Dylan receiving the Paine Award for distinguished service for the fight for civil liberty from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, at a dinner in New York City.

Author James Baldwin, who was a speaker that evening, sat on the dais with Dylan.

Author James Baldwin and Bob Dylan chat during a 1963 dinner, in which Dylan received an award in his fight for civil liberty. (Ted Russell/Govinda Gallery)

“He’d seen a lot in the world, since he came to New York in 1961,” said Murray. “And it’s reflected in his songwriting — it’s reflected in ‘Blowing in the Wind,’ it’s reflected in ‘The Times they are a-Changing.”

Dylan was “very upset by JFK’s assassination,” said Murray. With the civil rights movement “in full force, Bob was very much sympathetic and impacted by these incredible events.”

In a 1964 session, Russell’s photos show Dylan in his apartment, sitting at his desk, using a manual typewriter: “The great poet that he is, he interpreted those feelings in these wonderful songs that we all can relate to.”

The Bob Dylan Center has an identical typewriter in its permanent collection, said Murray.

Ted Russell’s 1964 photographs of Bob Dylan show the increasingly-popular songwriter, at the typewriter in his apartment. (Ted Russell/Govinda Gallery)

Murray said Russell’s photographs, over three sessions, capture the pivotal time in Dylan’s life, as he morphed from an unknown folk musician into a well-known observer and performer, whose songs have become synonymous with the quest for civil rights.

“When I look at Ted Russell’s photos of Bob Dylan, what strikes me profoundly is the freshness and the youth,” said Murray.

Ted Russell photographed Bob Dylan three times, between the years of 1961 and 1964. (Ted Russell/Govinda Gallery)

“He had the whole world in front of him now,” said Murray. “And, this young poet was about to transform popular culture in ways that he himself had no idea would happen.”

Murray will be in Tulsa for the April 26 opening of “Becoming Bob Dylan: Photographs of Ted Russell 1961-1964,” at the Bob Dylan Center.

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Featured Foto: John Lydon, 1979

by Chris Murray on April 10, 2023  |  Comments Off on Featured Foto: John Lydon, 1979

Kate Simon took this wonderful photograph of John Lydon ’skanking’ in Kingston, in 1979.  It looks like a warm day in Jamaica. We are thinking of John here today at Govinda Gallery as his partner of five decades, Nora Forster, just passed.  I was delighted to present for the first time, at Govinda Gallery, Kate Simon’s exhibition Rebel Music: Bob Marley and Roots Reggae Musicin December of 2004. That exhibition was also a launch for Kate Simon’s limited edition book of the same name from Genesis Publications.

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Ted Russell’s Photographs Coming to the Bob Dylan Center

by Patrick Pearse on March 22, 2023  |  2 Comments »


TULSA, Okla.: The Bob Dylan Center® (BDC) will host Becoming Bob Dylan: Photographs by Ted
Russell 1961–1964, an exhibition of rare images from Bob Dylan’s early years in New York City,
beginning April 26 and running through Oct. 15, it was announced today by BDC Director Steven
Jenkins and American Song Archives (ASA) Director of Archives and Exhibitions Mark Davidson. BDC tickets are available at

Ted Russell’s photographs offer an important view into Bob Dylan’s life during the pivotal years of
1961 through 1964, when the artist was just establishing himself as a songwriter and performer in the
vibrant folk music scene of New York’s Greenwich Village. Among the photographs to be displayed
are candid images of Dylan performing one of his earliest shows, in the company of his girlfriend Suze
Rotolo, in his first New York apartment, receiving his first public award (in the company of James
Baldwin) and rare photographs of Dylan writing some of his earliest songs.

“This collection of photographs documents Dylan’s first years as a musical artist and offer visitors
an intimate glimpse into the side of Bob Dylan that has escaped the often-mysterious lore and history
that surrounds the genius that we know and love. Bob Dylan, a bohemian poet, would become the
most original and influential songwriter of our time. We are enriched by this portrait of the artist as a
young man,” said Founder and Director of Govinda Gallery in Washington, DC, and curator of the
exhibition Chris Murray.

Ted Russell is a renowned photographer and one of the few remaining legendary group of
shooters who worked for LIFE magazine in the 50’s and 60’s. He has captured iconic images of
Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X, John Coltrane, President John F. Kennedy, Peggy Lee, Indira Gandhi,
Norman Mailer, Robert Kennedy and many more. His work has been featured in numerous
publications, including Rolling Stone, The Financial Times, LIFE and Time.

“We are thrilled to bring Ted Russell’s remarkable photographs to the Bob Dylan Center,” said
Jenkins. “This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see Bob Dylan through the eyes of an
immensely talented and respected photographer alongside a trove of artifacts from the Bob Dylan

Ahead of the exhibition’s public opening, Bob Dylan Center members will have exclusive access to
Becoming Bob Dylan during a private event on April 25 that will feature a conversation with Murray.
For more information about Becoming Dylan and the Bob Dylan Center, please visit

Anchored by a permanent exhibit on the life and work of Bob Dylan, the Bob Dylan Center® is
committed to exploring the myriad forms of creativity that enrich the world around us. Located in the
Tulsa Arts District, the center serves to educate, motivate and inspire visitors to engage their own
capacity as creators. Through exhibits, public programs, performances, lectures and publications, the
center fosters lively conversations about the role of creativity in our lives.

As the primary public venue for the Bob Dylan Archive® collection, the center curates and exhibits a
priceless collection of more than 100,000 items spanning Dylan’s career, including handwritten
manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence; films, videos, photographs and artwork; memorabilia
and ephemera; personal documents and effects; unreleased studio and concert recordings; musical
instruments and many other elements. More information at

Ted Russell is a renowned photographer and one of the few remaining legendary group of shooters
who worked for LIFE magazine in the 50’s and 60’s. He has captured iconic images of Marilyn
Monroe, Malcolm X, John Coltrane, President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and many more.
His work has been featured in numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, The Financial Times,
LIFE and Time.

Chris Murray is the founder and director of Govinda Gallery in Washington, DC. Murray is the author
or editor of 24 books. Most recently, Murray edited Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll: Photographs
by Alfred Wertheimer (Taschen 2022), and George Harrison: Be Here Now (Rizzoli 2020). Murray has
organized over 250 exhibitions of many of the nation’s leading visual artists. He lives in Washington,

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Featured Foto: Levon Helm, 1975

by Chris Murray on March 2, 2023  |  Comments Off on Featured Foto: Levon Helm, 1975

I love this portrait of Levon Helm by Catherine Sebastian. Enjoy the photographer’s description of her photograph.

“We were at Levon’s home studio in Woodstock at a band morning meeting (they began at noon, of course) when I captured this candid portrait. The band was: Mac Rebennack, Paul Butterfield, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and sometimes Booker T. A joyful time for Levon. It was fascinating, funny, and a privilege to be the proverbial fly on the wall.” – Catherine Sebastian

Catherine Sebastian’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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