"Forever Young, The Rock and Roll Photography of Chuck Boyd"—He Was There And Now So Are You!
Until the publication of this book this past fall, few people have seen this mind-boggling collection of black and white images shot by the late photographer Chuck Boyd in Los Angeles beginning in 1965. Though Boyd passed away in 1991 this set stops with a remarkable double page shot of B.B. King taken in 1978.
Boyd's first job at the tender age of 16 was as the photographer for radio station KRLA. His assignment was to cover promotional events organized by record labels and artist's management. He also began working for Tiger Beat magazine, shooting candid, posed and in-performance photos.
Boyd photographed in black and white the goings on in both the obscure Sunset Strip clubs as well as in the more famous ones like the Whiskey a Go Go, the Trip and The Troubadour. He gained even greater access to the era's greatest stars when he was hired to take promo shots by indie record producer and Sunn Amplifier's national promotion director Buck Munger.
Boyd also had backstage and behind the camera access at television show tapings when counterculture rock stars made their incongruous appearances on mainstream shows aimed at an older audience.
The first photo is not from 1965: it's a previously unpublished eye-opening shot of Eric Clapton and Patti Boyd (no relation) taken in October of 1968 at at time when his relationship with George Harrison's wife was top secret. Boyd kept the secret and the photo remained in his archives.
The real action begins in 1965 with a series of shots of The Rolling Stones performing at the Long Beach Arena. The double page spread of the boys looking very young and very tired is fantastic, not as a work of photographic art but because of the content.
That leads to rapid thumbing as you see shots of a young James Brown, oh so young Beach Boys, The Lovin' Spoonful, Byrds McGuinn, Clark and Crosby on and backstage. A young Tom Jones, Glen Campbell in a turtleneck and sport jacket. Donovan, The Knickerbockers and Dusty Springfield on a TV show called Shivaree. The Turtles on The Lloyd Thaxton Show. Phil Spector standing in front of the ladies room at The Trip.
The Four Seasons in a promo shot holding copies of Tiger Beat. Franki Valli giving the "Joisey look", Dylan at a press conference, Jagger holding aloft a KRLA Beat Award looking so, so young.
1966 opens with a double page Yardbirds with Jeff Beck spread also from Shivaree. There are candid shots of Sonny and Cher and Jackie Wilson and Martha and The Vandellas in performance. John Phillips at United Western Recorders in 1966. Van Morrison and Them at The Whiskey. Roy Orbison on an unidentified TV set.
Boyd didn't keep notes so the book's editor and Boyd archivist Jeffrey Schwartz had to do forensic work trying to identify times, places and people, not always successfully. How about Ringo lighting a cigarette for Paul at Capitol Studios 1966? Some incredible pictures of impossibly young Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel candid and in performance.
Temptations, Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, The Who at Monterrey, a youthful Felix Cavaliere shot at Disneyland. Frank Zappa, Arthur Lee. In the studio and onstage with Led Zeppelin. I could go on. But if that doesn't wet your whistle for this book, more lists won't.
Boyd's photos aren't works of photographic art as much as they are amazing documentation of a time long gone and youth long ago faded. The appropriateness of the book's title reinforces with every page turn. "Look how young," you'll find yourself repeatedly saying.
What a time it was! What a treasure trove of previously unpublished photos!