Backstage Pass - Denenberg, Thomas Andrew; Portland Museum of Art; O'Brien, Glenn; Tucker, Anne Wilkes; Levine, Laura; Marcus, Greil - Yale University Press

Performing Arts
Art and Architecture

Backstage Pass Rock & Roll Photographs Published in association with the Portland Museum of Art 

Backstage Pass

Rock & Roll Photography

  • Edited by Thomas Denenberg; Essays by Greil Marcus, Anne Wilkes Tucker, Laura Levine, Glenn O'Brien, and Kate Simon
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Selected as one of the 2009 "Books of note about music," Dan DeLuca, Music Critic,The Philadelphia Inquirer

This striking collection of photographs features nearly every important figure in the world of rock & roll, from Elvis to Eric Clapton, the Beatles to Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix to John Coltrane. Many of the nearly one hundred images have rarely been published, and all reveal fascinating glimpses of celebrities off stage, away from the glare of the spotlights. Shot from the mid-fifties to the mid-nineties, the portraits often have a spontaneous, informal, and everyday feel, and most record their subjects before they had become immensely famous—and well practiced in posing for photographs. The more than fifty photographers who contribute to the volume are among the most talented in their field, including Lee Friedlander, Lynn Goldsmith, Bob Gruen, Mick Rock, and many more.


Three original essays address topics suggested by the photographs. The authors discuss the coded nature of celebrity portraiture, the 1970s music scene in New York City, the frank sexuality of rock musicians, and how the Beatles’ look evolved over time. This book will be treasured not only by fans of rock & roll music and admirers of photographic portraits, but also by those who remember the vanished time when photographers had genuine access to performers, and were a crucial element in the worlds they were documenting.

Glenn O’Brien is a writer and journalist. Anne Wilkes Tucker is Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and author of The History of Japanese Photography (Yale). Laura Levine is a photographer whose work has appeared in Rolling StoneNew York Rocker, and Sounds of the UK. Thomas Andrew Denenberg is the Acting Director and Chief Curator at the Portland Museum of Art. Kate Simon is a photographer whose work has appeared on book jackets, record covers, and in publications around the world. Greil Marcus is an author, music journalist, and cultural critic whose writings have appeared in Rolling Stone, Artforum, the Village Voice, and Creem.


Portland Museum of Art, Maine (January 22 – March 22, 2009)