Jim Marshall (photographer)

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Jim Marshall
James Joseph Marshall

(1936-02-03)February 3, 1936
DiedMarch 24, 2010(2010-03-24) (aged 74)
  • Photographer
  • Photojournalist
Years active1959-2010

James Joseph Marshall (February 3, 1936[1] – March 24, 2010) was an American photographer and photojournalist who is best known for his iconic images of musicians of the 1960s and 1970s. Earning the trust of his subjects, he had extended access to his subjects both on- and off-stage. Marshall was the official photographer for The Beatles' final concert in San Francisco's Candlestick Park, and he was chief photographer at Woodstock.


Marshall was born in Chicago, Illinois, but his family moved to San Francisco, California, when he was two years old. While still at high school, he purchased his first camera and began documenting musicians and artists in San Francisco. After serving several years in the Air Force, he returned and moved to New York. He was hired by Atlantic Records and Columbia Records to photograph their musical artists. His photos appeared on the covers of over 500 albums and even more were published in Rolling Stone.[2][3] He photographed Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival, and Johnny Cash at San Quentin.[4]

Marshall was said to have at least one Leica Camera with him at all times. One famous story concerned a CEO who offered to buy the camera that he used to shoot Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock for $25,000 (in 1973) which he refused.[citation needed] Marshall was well known in the industry for his portraits of musicians.

His photos of 1960s and 1970s musicians, taken both on stage and off without any direction or posing, were possible because of the exceptional access musicians allowed him. His pictures of Neil Young, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, the Allman Brothers, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Guns N' Roses, Santana and The Beatles "helped define their subjects as well as rock 'n' roll photography itself."[3][4]

When I'm photographing people, I don't like to give any direction. There are no hair people fussing around, no make-up artists. I'm like a reporter, only with a camera; I react to my subject in their environment, and if it's going well, I get so immersed in it that I become one with the camera.[4]

Annie Leibovitz said he was "the rock 'n' roll photographer."[4]

Marshall also photographed jazz musicians such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.[2][4]

Other photographic assignments included shooting the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 for Autoweek and the 2007 introduction of the Nissan GT-R.[2]


In 2004 at the Lucie Awards, Marshall was honored with the Lucie Award for Achievement in Music Photography.

In 2014, Marshall was posthumously given a Trustees Award (part of the Lifetime Achievement Awards) at the 56th Grammy Awards,[5] the first and only photographer, as of 2014, to receive one.[2]

Also in 2014, the Leica Gallery in West Hollywood opened a tribute to Marshall, accompanied by treasures from the iconic camera brand, the camera Marshall loved. A photograph of him at Woodstock shows him wearing four of the cameras simultaneously.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Marshall was known for his forceful personality that became something of a celebrity of its own.[4] Not having any children, he used to say "I have no kids," "My photographs are my children."[3]

In 1967 he dated Folgers coffee heiress, Abigail Folger, who accompanied him and fellow photographer Elaine Mayes to the Monterey Pop Festival.[6] Folger was murdered, in 1969, by followers of Charles Manson.

Marshall lived in San Francisco, but he died in New York City while on a trip during which he was scheduled to speak in SoHo. Marshall was 74 at the time of his death.[7]


  1. ^ "Jim Marshall, legendary photographer".
  2. ^ a b c d e Ronk, Blake Z. (January 1, 2014). "Cars, guns and cameras: The life of Jim Marshall". Autoweek. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Jim Marshall, Legendary Rock Photographer, Passes Away at 74". Rolling Stone. March 24, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sisario, Ben (March 24, 2010). "Jim Marshall, Rock 'n' Roll Photographer, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "Special Merit Awards: Class Of 2014". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. December 12, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  6. ^ Mayes, Elaine (November 1, 2002). It Happened in Monterey: Modern Rock's Defining Moment. Britannia Press. ISBN 0972559604.
  7. ^ "Jim Marshall Photographer for Woodstock, Cash, Dylan, and Others Dies at 74" latimes.com March 24, 2010

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