Used with permission. Click on the image above to visit Goldmine.
|The 2000 Cameron Crowe movie Almost Famous played out many a teenaged music geeks ultimate fantasy - meet and go on tour with a famous rock band. Similarly, many fans of local bands have dreamed about the day their faves make the charts and appear on TV - just for the opportunity to revel in the afterglow. Yeah, I knew them back when they used to play gigs at our high school.
Rare is the person who has actually lived either of those fan fantasies, let alone both of them. Lucky enough to have access to his moms camera, Copenhagen, Denmark, photographer Jørgen Angel as a teen took concert pictures for a local hangouts magazine - and just happened to be there the first night that Led Zeppelin played together as a group. Bragging rights dont come much bigger than that.
|After the teen club stint, his career progressed to working for magazines, from being an editor to a freelance photographer, taking photos of bands around Scandinavia, the U.K. and occasionally the U.S., with some of his work ending up in bands albums and in books. After photographing bands for more than 20 years, though, he decided to put away his 50,000 negatives or so and move on to something that was less of a hassle. The camaraderie of the late-60s underground music scene had dissipaited as it all became big business by the mid-80s, and there wasnt a big demand for his old photos.
|One of the last concerts I [shot] was an Electric Light Orchestra show in the early 80s, he told the United States Led Zeppelin fanzine Proximity in 2000. The management said that there could only be three photographers there and that they could only take photos of the first number on stage, the first song. I was supposed to supply two competing magazines with seven individual super shots. And these 14 sort of hits were to be taken within the first song! I was also told that if I tried to take photos after the first song they would confiscate my equipment.
There was absolutely no logical explanation why I should not be allowed to take photos during the whole concert. In my opinion, it was just a matter of the bands and the managers wanting to see how difficult they could make peoples lives and still get away with it. Because the more difficult they could be without people saying, Enough is enough, the bigger star they were. Its a ridiculous way of measuring it, but I cant think of any other explanation.
Fast-forward to the mid-90s and the advent of the Internet, and Angel discovered how much interest remained in the bands of his era. He put up a site to sell prints of his vintage photos - many of which have never been seen in publications outside of Denmark - to fans. He has also begun licensing them to magazines again, such as Goldmine.
The idea for the Led Zeppelin lithograph developed after he met Robert Plant again in 2001, after three decades.
There has been great interest for my old photos of the band since I put them on my web site, as they are historical photos, Angel said. Not all people can afford hand-made prints, so I thought I would make the best shots from that first performance available at a price of only a few dollars per photo.... I wanted the product to be something for the true Zeppelin fan, a high-quality memorabilia or collectors item, if you like.
The actual process of cleaning negatives, fixing scratches, printing photos, designing the lithograph and finding a printer (one that specializes in art books) took about six months. The First Performance is available for sale on his Web site at www.angel.dk.
Here, he talks with Goldmine about that amazing gig.
Goldmine: How did you start taking pictures for the teen club magazine?
Led Zeppelin playing at someones high school gym! The thought just blows the mind.
So you were a big fan of The Yardbirds and other British bands? American bands? Local bands?
How did word get around that it really wasnt The Yardbirds, that it was just Jimmy Page and three other blokes?
Was Robert Plant amazing even then? Were they real rough around the edges, or did they look well-rehearsed?
|Did you have any idea when you saw them that theyd be one of the biggest bands in the world?
I had no idea that they would be that big - neither did I when I saw Deep Purple the first time.
I was really lucky getting those shots - even more lucky that they are still around. When I stopped shooting rock stars my negatives were first kept in my parents basement and later in the attic where I live. This is a 100-year-old building, and one of the tiles on the roof could have blown off in a storm and the rain would have destroyed all my negatives. But for more than 10 years I didnt know that anybody cared about my old shots. Over the last three to four years I have learned differently.
|Teen Club was one of the places I got to meet many bands, but also other places. It was different times back then. Maybe it was a bit like the story about the bumble bee. You know, it cant fly, but it doesnt know that so it flies. I didnt know I was not supposed to walk in to Eric Claptons dressing room after a Cream concert, so I just walked in and said, Hi, can I take a photo? In no way did I look professional - I was a schoolboy with my mothers holiday camera.
At a Yardbirds concert, in a local hall for handball, I walked on the stage - just some chip board elevated over the floor - to take some some photos closer up. Nobody tried to stop me. All the roadie said was, Mind the gear! when I was about to step on one of Jimmys guitars in an open case on the floor.
In the year 2000 some of my photos were exhibited in an art gallery in New York. I went to New York for the opening of the show. It was just as the movie Almost Famous had opened, and people kept telling me about this movie that could have been about me.
You must make some exciting discoveries in that attic if the negatives have been packed away for so long. Music fans in general enjoy seeing photos theyve never seen before, and these are your own!
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