the Backroom



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

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

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

Ted Russell’s Photographs Coming to the Bob Dylan Center

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

BOB DYLAN CENTER TO HOST BECOMING BOB DYLAN: PHOTOGRAPHS BY TED RUSSELL 1961–1964 EXHIBITION OF RARE IMAGES FROM BOB DYLAN’S EARLY YEARS IN NEW YORK OPENS APRIL 26

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 bobdylancenter.com.

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
Archive®.”

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
bobdylancenter.com.

ABOUT THE BOB DYLAN CENTER 
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 bobdylancenter.com.

ABOUT TED RUSSELL
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.

ABOUT CHRIS MURRAY
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,
DC.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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

by Chris Murray on February 1, 2023  |  Comments Off on Lisa Marie Presley, Vanity Fair, and “Elvis at 21,” on Her Birthday Today

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.

 

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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

by Patrick Pearse on January 25, 2023  |  Comments Off on From the Archive: Glen Friedman, Ian MacKaye, Eric Brace, and Govinda Gallery, June 6, 2000

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

Alexandra Pelosi, HBO, Oksana Markarova and The National Archives

by Chris Murray on January 12, 2023  |  Comments Off on Alexandra Pelosi, HBO, Oksana Markarova and The National Archives

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

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.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   
© 2008 Govinda Gallery.  Proudly powered by WordPress.  Website Design by Cary Scott Additional design by Anna Jacoby.