Henry Diltz’s shooting stars land in Tel Aviv

A visit to the Morrison Hotel gallery in NY City’s SOHO neighborhood might be akin and dying and going to heaven.

The Doors 521 (photo credit: Henry Diltz)
The Doors 521
(photo credit: Henry Diltz)
For fans of rock memorabilia and vintage fine art photography, a visit to the Morrison Hotel gallery in New York City’s SOHO neighborhood might be akin and dying and going to heaven.
The works of over 80 famed photographers are featured in the gallery, including iconic album covers and candid photos of superstars like Paul McCartney, Neil Young and Jim Morrison. And for a more than a month, a little part of Morrison Hotel is arriving in Israel, courtesy of the gallery’s co-founder and one of its principal photographers, Henry Diltz.
The 74-year-old Californian’s vast body of work encompassed practically the entire West Coast rock establishment of the 1970s.
His album covers – like the debut album by Crosby, Stills and Nash, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, and of course The Doors’ Morrison Hotel – capture a pivotal era of a burgeoning youthful rock culture in full flight.
“I was a fan, I just loved being surrounded by the music and the people,” said Diltz in a phone interview ahead of his visit to Israel to attend the Thursday night opening of Rock Icons of the ‘60s and ‘70s by Henry Diltz and Friends at the Minotaure Gallery in Tel Aviv.
“I loved their harmonies and was fascinated with the whole singer/songwriter genre that came of age in the 1960s – people like Jimmy Webb, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, just amazing songwriters. I was fascinated with their art and the poetry of their songwriting.”
“It was a period of such great change in music because people were writing their own songs – Elvis and Sinatra never wrote their own material, but with Bob Dylan and then The Beatles, it opened up the floodgates. One time I was talking to Jackson [Browne] and I asked him what made the ’60s so great. He said it was because it was new, we were doing it for the first time. It was an amazing time to be around.”
Diltz’s visual chronicle of that era has become an historic and valuable treasure.
And the Morrison Hotel has been the treasure chest, where not only Diltz’s work but the fine arts music photography of Jim Marshall, Lynn Goldsmith, David Gahr, Mick Rock, Bob Gruen and dozens of other steady eyes behind the lens capturing the dizzying escapades of rock history as it was being made.
“For the first few years, only my photos were on display. Then one of my partners said, ‘if you could ask one other photographer to have a show here, who would it be?’ I answered Jim Marshall, the granddaddy of rock photographers from San Francisco,” said Diltz.
“The show we did with him was so well received, we started adding other photographers, until now we handle between 80 and 90. And it’s not just historical rock photographers, we’ve got hip hop and lots of young photographers as well. There’s been kind of an acceptance of music photography as a form of art.
“I always hated that term ‘rock and roll photos’ like with a blaring neon sign – ‘rawwwk’ memorabilia here.
Calling the gallery Morrison Hotel was just a subtle way of letting you know there’s something a little more intriguing and sophisticated here.”
In addition to appearing at the exhibition opening on Thursday night, Diltz will also be giving two lecture/ slide shows – at the Minotaure on Friday at noon (by invitation only) and on September 23 at Tmol Shilshom in Jerusalem at 7 p.m. (advanced registration required, tmolshilshom.en@gmail.com).
The exhibition will run through the end of October.
“It was an amazing time to be around. I’m very much admitted good luck and synchronicity. How come I got to be in the middle of it all and pick up a camera and sort of accidentally capture so much of it?” said Diltz. “I’m very happy I did it, and I feel somewhat responsible to share it.”