published: 11 /
In her 'Raging Pages' book column Lisa Torem finds a Chicagoland concert photographer and writer recalling once-in-a lifetime classic rock moments
This collaboration by two Chicagoland experts in their fields, this scintillating coffee table gem, is a veritable feast for the eyes as well as a glorious spin down rock 'n' roll memory lane. 'Classic Rock: Photographs from Yesterday and Today' features photography by Jim Summaria and words by Mark Plotnick.
Having worked previously with Jim on a number of assignments, I was not surprised to see the professional product which he and his long term friend co-assembled.
It is arranged into concrete sections, such as 'Today: Rockers Who Are/Were Still Rockin' in the 60s & 70s', which includes shots and related insights about the likes of Martin Barre, Paul Rodgers, Ronnie Montrose and Robert Cray.
Summaria’s behind-the-lens career unfolded when, simply armed with a Kodak Instamatic, the then-nineteen-year-old captured impressive moments at a 1972 Rolling Stones Concert. His record store bosses saw his talent and urged him on.
After investing in more professional gear, Summaria accumulated more A-listers such as Sir Paul McCartney and The Who, but his insatiable interest in rock began even earlier, back in 1966 when the wide-eyed youth witnessed the Young Rascals, Mitch Ryder and The Turtles at his very first concert.
To bring this project fully to fruition, he worked alongside Plotnick, whose nuanced biographies and buoyant facts not only prop up the visuals and put them in proper context, but inspire and lead to additional introspection. The writer’s keen research skills are revealed throughout, for example, in a section about Jimmy Page. Many fans already know of the guitarist’s "unorthodox use of a violin bow across his guitar" but how many can identify the Scottish violinist who Page believes brainstormed the concept?
Some facts point to sheer irony. Regarding guitarist Jeff Beck, Plotnick points out that The New York Times referred to the rock giant as "The greatest guitarist that millions of people have never heard of".
Readers will enjoy Summaria’s varied close-ups of Beck, too, from the anguished expressions and skin-tight jeans to the gleaming cross of his silver necklace.
In a sacred second of solitude, Johnny Winter’s soulful features and wild, platinum hair mark time, his face in-the-moment intense as he concentrates on the sounds only he could manufacture on his unique guitar. In sharp contrast, his multi-instrumentalist brother, Edgar Winter, swings a keytar and presides over a shiny sax. Both statesmen own the stage, but prove it in dramatically different ways.
Plotnick makes certain that Johnny Winter’s once-upon-a time second guitarist/manager, Paul Nelson, who, since Johnny Winter’s death has fronted his own band, is given fair shrift for the guitarist’s second-act reformation.
There are a host of fine ensemble shots, too, where personalities shine. The original lineup of Bad Company is one such example, as well as that of the cool, collected Wishbone Ash.
In relation to Jefferson Starship, lead vocalist Grace Slick wows in a radiant red top with flowing sleeves. Violinist "Papa" John Creach dons dizzying paisley, yet it’s his priceless expression that truly attracts the eye.
There are triple shots of Elvis, including one that is as enigmatic as that of the Mona Lisa - the eyes appear to be leading the reader off the page and around the room.
Bare-chested brunette Barry Hay inhales the mike during a Chicago 1974 Golden Earring concert. A bouquet of contrasting hues adorns rockers Rod Stewart and Ron Wood the following year at the Chicago Stadium. One of the most visceral shots is of Irish legend Rory Gallagher whom Summaria shows leaping across the stage, wrinkles in his jeans illuminated, hair splayed in every direction.
That same year Procol Harum’s Chris Cropping beams, banjo in hand, against a cacophony of hallucinatory stripes. Plotnick duly notes that Ray Davies of the Kinks "became the quintessential chronicler of English life" because of his "sardonic humor and social satire".
Noddy Holder of Slade scurries down a stairwell decked out in a blood red jacket with tails, a plaid vest and loud, matching trousers. Was this shot captured before or post-performance? Can the reader discern the answer from Holder’s air of uncertainty?
Pete Townshend’s half-hidden windmill arm in mid-flight, Roger Daltrey’s golden curls and hippie fringe and Keith Moon’s irreverent smirk come out full-force. Brit guitarist Robin Trower in angel-white, shreds with no-nonsense singularity.
Chris Squire, the late, great bassist of YES, shares an inward moment of ecstasy while we catch a glimpse of his meticulous fingering.
A candid of Sir Paul McCartney and Wings validates the former Beatle’s legendary self-assurance. Another former mop-top, George Harrison, benefits from the aura of the spotlight.
Summaria has taken full advantage of the artist’s striking stance and tailored garb. Rouge highlights escape from his sculpted hair and a deeper shade reflects off his slim electric guitar.
For another curious pose taken at the Chicago Stadium, watch Mick Jagger crouch, like a mischievous child, harboured only by Keef’s leather flares. Then there’s Mark Farner, of Grand Funk Railroad fame, lifting spirits at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Ill. In 2017.
That same year, the evocative Judy Collins, beset by black sparkles, entertains. Judging by the glint in her blue eyes, her seminal, crystal clear vocals are being well-received.
Raging Pages says that this treasure should be in every rock lover’s collection.
889 Posted By: Jim Summaria, Chicago, Illinois on 19 Mar 2019