William Claxton (photographer)

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William Claxton
William Claxton photographer.jpg
Born (1927-10-12)October 12, 1927
Pasadena, California, United States
Died October 11, 2008(2008-10-11) (aged 80)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Nationality USA

William Claxton (October 12, 1927 – October 11, 2008) was an American photographer and author.


Born in Pasadena, California, Claxton's works included a book of photographs of Steve McQueen, and Jazz Life, a book of photographs depicting jazz artists in the 1960s. He was best known for his photography of jazz musicians including Chet Baker. Claxton also photographed celebrities and models.[1]

In 1967, he created the film Basic Black, a work that is credited as the first "fashion video" and is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The music for the film, using a Moog synthesizer, was composed by award-winning artist David Lucas.[2][3]

He married model Peggy Moffitt in 1960 and had one son, Christopher M. Claxton, born in 1973. Claxton died on October 11, 2008 of complications from congestive heart failure, one day before his 81st birthday.[4]


  1. ^ "William Claxton dies at 80; photographer helped make Chet Baker famous". Los Angeles Times. 2008-10-12. Born in Pasadena on Oct. 12, 1927, Claxton grew up in an upper middle-class family in La Cañada Flintridge. His mother was a musician and his older brother played piano; Claxton said he tried the keyboard but had no patience for it. He started collecting records, especially jazz, at an early age. At 2 years old, he was taking the bus to downtown Los Angeles to hear jazz greats, including Ellington, at the Orpheum Theatre. 
  2. ^ Holley, Joe (October 15, 2008). "William J. Claxton, 80, - Made 'Jazz for the Eyes'". Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Apodaca, Rose (March 18, 2009). "A R.I.P. Roaring Tribute to William Claxton". Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Music photographer William Claxton dies at 80". Associated Press. October 12, 2008. Archived from the original on October 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-08. William Claxton, a celebrated photographer who worked with such entertainers as Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra and who helped establish the organization that runs the Grammy Awards, has died. He was 80. 

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