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Baron Wolman

An Interview with Rolling Stone’s First Chief Photographer

Baron Wolman

Baron Wolman

Photograph by Baron Wolman

"Those Dead shows in the park would draw few hundred people," Wolman says. "You could climb up on the back of the bandstand and could hang out with the band afterwards."

Baron Wolman

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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"Tourists were coming to Haight Street to see hippies," Wolman says. "During the Summer of Love kids would make any money by buying these [counterculture] newspapers from whoever was publishing them for say, a quarter. Then they'd sell them for a dollar, because the tourists wanted some kind of hippie memento."

Baron Wolman

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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"This was taken at the conference when Jann first told me about Rolling Stone, " Wolman says. "Bill played such a major role in the music scene in San Francisco and the music scene nationally. His contributions were enormous."

Baron Wolman

Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore West, Feb 1968

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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In February of 1968, Jimi Hendrix came to San Francisco for his first gig at the legendary Fillmore auditorium. Wolman was there, and the result was one of the greatest rock and roll photos of all time. "I was onstage and the music was so loud I put Kleenex in my ears," Wolman says. "In order to get a great live shot of a band, you have to be completely in-tune with them — if you see a photograph in your viewfinder, it's already too late. You have to anticipate their moves. I was so in touch with the band that night. I felt like I was playing my Nikon while they were playing their Fenders or their Gibsons."

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Photograph by Baron Wolman

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"That was a perfect, perfect concert," Wolman says. "There were just enough people. Afterwards, everybody came and hung around Janis, got autographs, talked to the band. There was no sense of us and them. Back then, we all felt like we were one community."

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Photograph by Baron Wolman

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"Hearst publications saw how well Rolling Stone was doing and hey decided they wanted to get into the counter-culture magazine scene. So they started a magazine called Eye," Wolman says. "They hired a lot of the Rolling Stone writers to do stories and photographers to take pictures, and what they had over Rolling Stone at the time was that they were printing on glossy stock and could run color. There's Janis looking like the queen that she is."

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Photograph by Baron Wolman

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Pamela Des Barres, shot for Rolling Stone's "Groupie Issue," 1968. "She wrote that tell-all book, I'm With the Band, where she told about everyone she fucked," Wolman says. "But she's hugely intelligent, a really interesting woman."

Baron Wolman

Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead 1969

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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This shot of Jerry Garcia taken for a Rolling Stone cover story on the Grateful Dead in 1969 marked the first time most people noticed the guitarist was missing a digit, the result of a childhood accident. The shot became the official logo for the Jerry Garcia estate "I thought he was doing something with his finger to blow me off or something or give me the finger in some weird way," Wolman says. "For years I tried to do what he did and I couldn't. And then I heard the story of how he lost the finger."

Baron Wolman

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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The Plaster Casters. Cynthia and Dianne Plaster Caster in Chicago, shot for Rolling Stone's "Groupie Issue," 1968. The Casters were notorious for making molds of rock stars' penises including one of Jimi Hendrix's. "These two teenage girls, they were in art school and they were learning to do body casting," Wolman says. "The one on the right would give head to the rocker and the one on the left, Cynthia, would mix up this alginate and when the guy was hard she'd slam this can of stuff on his dick. Then she could make the actual cast out of the mold. Cynthia is in her Fifties now and still doing it. But now she's doing the oral sex herself, too."

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Photograph by Baron Wolman

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Pink Floyd at the Casa Madrona Hotel. Sausalito, CA, Nov 11, 1967. "They were playing their first show at the Fillmore, and they were staying at a hotel in Sausalito," Wolman says "I just think it's a really classic photo of Pink Floyd."

Baron Wolman

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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Legendary cartoonist R. Crumb, who designed posters for San Francisco shows in the late Sixties. "Bill Graham would hire all these great artists to do posters, and we were doing a story on them," Wolman says. "Crumb is as weird today as he was then."

Baron Wolman

Miles Davis w/Red Ferrari, NYC 1969

Photograph by Baron Wolman

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"I went to his house and did a bunch of portraits, and he says, 'Okay, Baron, you're out of shape. We're going boxing.'" Wolman says. "We climbed in his Ferrari and went speeding down West Side Highway. We stopped in a little park and I took some pictures. The leather pants he's wearing had a zipper right down the front of both legs. Very cool."

In This Article: Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead

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