Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bon Jovi at the first Farm Aid Concert 1985

When my good friend and fellow photographer John Cary (see his photo blog at and asked if I was interested in shooting this concert called Farm Aid back in 1985, I was more than thrilled and a bit anxious too. He was a bureau photographer for United Press in Illinois and the concert was going to be in Champagne Illinois. He knew I loved shooting concerts and could handle stage shooting when he was busy with other work on site. My only concern was to not let him down.

Since most major concerts only allowed me the first three songs from a perfomance, it was going to be a kick to stay on stage and shoot act after act when they only got an average of three songs. A nice reversal of roles. I took the train up to Illinois and met John a couple days early. We covered opening events with the Governor, press events and even had a chance to have a beer in a bar with Hoyt Axton. Cool by me. We shot stage construction, whatever any subscriber to the wire service might use.

Day of the show unfortunately was overcast with occasional rain. I actually think some of the stuff I shot that day was helped by it. For all the things I didn't get to shoot during that day, what I did shoot easily makes it one of the most significant and satisfying days of my career. I was elbow to elbow with some of the best photographers in the country like Lucien Perkins of the Washington Post.

I did get a lot of photos on the wire that day that were played around the world. It was an important day in a lot of ways besides the beginning of a great concert series that works to benefit the smaller family farmers. It was the day that saw the genesis of the Traveling Wilbury's, one of my fav all time 'supergroups'.

But the most popular shots from the day were those of Jon Bon Jovi and his mates. He was riding the crest of his popularity, every teen girls dream. My two favorite shots of him are here. The first and most popular is him shot with a 200mm in profile, wind from the weather blowing in his face and sweeping his hair back. The second was from on stage as he went down to a lower lip of the stage right in the face of the crowd with his arms upraised, his blue cape swept back and those bright red shoes. I just love how that shot really wraps up the sense-of-place that makes all great photos for me. And he is still a favorite of many fans, still producing some great music. Still good looking, just ask most any woman.

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