'Bob Gruen: Right Place, Right Time'
By: Bob Gruen - Abrams Press, $32.50
Description: Bob Gruen is one of the most well-known and connected photographers in rock and roll. For almost 50 years, he has documented the music scene in pictures that have captured the world’s attention.
'Right Place, Right Time: The Life of a Rock & Roll Photographer' is Gruen’s ﬁrst written account of his winding, adventure-ﬁlled journey.
He takes us on visits to John and Yoko’s apartment, on a cross-country road trip with the Ike and Tina Turner band, to Glasgow with Debbie Harry, backstage with KISS, inside CBGB, and on the bus as he swaps steel-toed boots with Sid Vicious.
In wildly entertaining stories and iconic images, Gruen gives the reader a unique window into the evolution of American music culture over the last ﬁve decades.
Verdict: Being myself a "rock 'n' roll photographer" for close to 30 years now, I was oh-so very interested in reading another man's tale on what I myself have been witnessing from 1990-2020; albeit Bob Gruen's timeframe is obviously tales told from an earlier time.
Opening with an Introduction that begins with one sunny day back in 1979, when a wee Bob was crammed into a small rental car with a young heavy metal band called Riot, driving across Texas from one show to another.
He further explains that he took his first concert photos at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival - where Bob Dylan famously shocked the world by going electric - camped out at the Woodstock Music Festival with thousands of others, and amongst many other stories, met John and Yoko at an Aretha Franklin concert and became their friend and personal photographer thereafter!
Further learning that he drove Tina Turner's Jaguar down the Pacific Coast Highway in a thick pea soup fog, and was also at CBGB for the birth of the New York punk scene, just goes to show you what to expect from this incredible near-400 page book, chock full of stories aplenty and some quite wondrous nostalgic black and white photos too!
Over the run of this engrossing book, it is very obvious that Bob has led one of the most fascinating lives as a rock 'n' roll photographer, and more, pioneering his own brand of work to ensure he became one of the foremost, and therein influential photographers of the genre.
His stories of musical journeys undertaken down the years combined with his heartfelt passion and commitment to the job, freely flows through to us on each and every page, and with some stories visually backed by some delightful flashback photographs, it shows us just why Bob has been one of the most famous names in the music industry for so long.
Sure, it's hard to distill down six decades within the music industry into one 400 page book, but when he recounts his relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, well, that not only takes up a rather significant chunk of the book (and rightly so), but it almost felt like he could have written a whole other book devoted to just that period of his life.
With oh-so many photographs, and ALL iconic, at that, showing us exactly what Bob was up to, how these stars were at ease with him, showing many "stars" smiling broadly backstage when being alongside him, there are many photos of "stars" that we all knew back then, but many of "stars" that weren't that big then; but who have since gone down in musical history as of today.
In closing, at no point does 'Right Place, Right Time: The Life of a Rock & Roll Photographer' come across as a name-dropping experience, moreover a fly on the wall viewpoint of the '60s and '70s and beyond within the NYC music scene.
A time and place that could never ever be replicated again, if you missed it, and/or if you are someone like myself - still working the business and wondering what it was like back then - then this is the one and only book on the subject for you, my friends!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Gruen is a world-renowned rock and roll photographer. For almost 50 years, his images have appeared around the world in every form imaginable.
He is the author of John Lennon: The New York Years, Rock Seen, New York Dolls, and Green Day: Photographs by Bob Gruen, among others. He lives in New York City.
Official Book Purchase Link