Oct 052018
 

You may not know Ed Caraeff’s name, but if you’re a fan of rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s, you’ve admired at least a few of the hundreds of album covers and live shots he’s taken in a long and storied photographic career.

He took his most famous shot when he was just 17, in June of 1967. Then still a high school junior at Westchester High School in Los Angeles, he had heard about a “rock and roll festival” up the coast in Monterey and headed there with some friends and a camera borrowed from his family’s optometrist. As he put it later: “I wasn’t a music lover that was there to enjoy the music and take a few snapshots. I was there to photograph it—and I did.”

The shot seen ’round the world was of Jimi Hendrix at the close of his first American appearance. It’s a startling and otherworldly image: Hendrix kneels before a Fender Stratocaster laid on the stage, his mouth open, eyes closed in a timeless posture of both dominance and ecstasy.

Oh, and the guitar is on fire.

Caraeff’s photograph became the only image to make the cover of Rolling Stone twice. The song Hendrix was performing…erm, burning? “Wild Thing.” But we’ll get to that.

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Aug 042014
 

An expanded version of this article – with a new Lenny Kaye interview! – appears in my new book ‘Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time’. Buy it at Amazon.

Before there was a song called “Gloria,” there was a poem called “Oath.” And the transition from one to the other might never have happened without forty bucks and one loud bass note.
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Mar 202014
 

An expanded version of this article appears in my new book ‘Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time’. Buy it at Amazon.

Brian Jones was in bad shape.

The Rolling Stone had staggered into London’s Olympic Studios, where Jimi Hendrix was trying to record a new Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower.” Though Jones could barely stand upright, he demanded to play on the track. There had already been many takes and the arrangement was just starting to come together, but Hendrix, ever accommodating to his friends, sat Jones down at a piano. Jones jumped right in, not letting inebriation limit his enthusiasm, and began producing off-beat clunks and clangs that caused Hendrix to stop the take in frustration after only 23 seconds.

What would become known as the greatest cover song ever recorded was quickly falling apart.
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