Ethan Russell's Iconic Images of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and More - Rolling Stone
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Ethan Russell’s Iconic Images of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and More

Shots from from his new interactive book

Janis Joplin

Ethan Russell

Ethan Russell is the only person to have shot album covers for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was pretty much at every landmark moment in rock & roll, from the Altamont stage to the rooftop of Apple Records during the Beatles' final performance to a field in England where he shot the cover of Who's Next. His camera captured many of the most iconic moments in rock history, and his new interactive book American Story: It's Your History. Help Write It displays many of these images along with the stories behind them. It's available for the iPad, iPhone, Nook and all Kindle devices. (Click here for more info.)

Here are 13 photos from the book, starting with this shot from Altamont in 1969. "That's the day the music died," says Russell. "The whole thing was just chaos – just awful from the moment we got off the helicopter. There's 400,000 behind the people you see crushed against the stage. I wanted to leave as soon as we got there. When we did leave, it felt like the last chopper out of Vietnam. The fact that everybody didn't die was really the grace of God."

The Eagles

Ethan Russell

The Eagles

The Eagles at Bernie Leadon's house circa 1970. "I just discovered this photo and I really like it," says Russell. "I was in America with Glyn Johns and the Eagles, who had just formed at the time and were after Glyn to produce their first album. I remember going to soundcheck with him before one of their shows. They played and I thought they were spectacular. Glyn went, 'Not ready!' But he wound up doing their first album. This was at Bernie's wonderful little house in Topanga Canyon. Nobody was a star yet. They're all wanting it, but they don't have it yet."

Keith Richards

Ethan Russell

Keith Richards

Keith Richards on the Stones' 1972 U.S. tour. "I never tell someone what to do – but in this picture, I told Keith exactly what to do," says Russell. "We were going to Canada and somebody had screwed up and not done the clearance, so we couldn't land. I guess we were coming back from Vancouver. I saw the sign and called Keith over and took two pictures. I wanted to do it as Jagger and Richards, but when I called Mick over, the customs man saw me and said, 'If you don't stop right now I'm confiscating the film.' But that picture was just waiting to be taken. The other picture is not that great. He's smoking a cigarette or something."

The Who

Ethan Russell

The Who

Who's Next cover, shot in England in 1970. "The band had done covers they weren't happy with, including a room full of naked women," says Russell. "I was traveling back with them from a gig in the middle of England. It was early and Pete would drive. There was a caravan of two or three cars following each other. Pete was in the lead and he would drive about 120 miles per hour. It terrified me. We're driving along and I see these shapes out of the corner of my eye. At that moment Pete asked if I had any ideas. I don't know why he asked at that moment, but I told him there were these shapes back there. Everybody turns around and we walk out onto this slag. I look up after a minute and Pete's pissed on it. I started taking picture. The others couldn't piss, so we filled old cans with water and dumped it on the thing. I took maybe 14 pictures. Today, I'd take about 400. It was nothing like today. No art directors. No stylists. No nothing. It was off to the record company in two days."

The Who

Ethan Russell

The Who

The Who in rehearsals for the Quadrophenia tour in England in 1973. "What I remember most from this is that Pete and Roger were having a fight about the mirrors that you see behind them," says Russell. "Pete's idea was they were going to project some filmed footage onto them. It was sort of avant-garde and maybe smart. Roger said, 'People come to see us, right? It should just be us against a black background.' The reality is they were both right."

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