Jack Johnson. Photo courtesy of the Morrison Hotel Gallery
A picture has always been said to be worth a thousand words. When it comes to the Morrison Hotel Gallery, the iconic rock ‘n’ roll images which they behold can stretch beyond the old saying and tell stories that stand the test of time.
The Soho-based gallery, along with H. Audrey, will have an exhibit titled Singers and Songwriters starting on Sunday, May 4 at the celebrated Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tenn.
The gallery will run through September and will feature over 80 photographers and will include images of musicians such as Neil Young, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson and many more.
“We tried to really move on the theme of singer songwriters and keep it based on some great artists and we tried to find the iconic photographs,” founder Peter Blachley said during a recent phone interview.
Many of the photographers whose work will be on display include Danny Clinch, Henry Diltz, Neal Preston, Barry Feinstein, David Gahr, Graham Nash and many more noted names.
The spectrum of the subjects range from Bob Dylan in the early 60’s, Herbie Hancock and Blue Note Records all the way to current day images of Jack Johnson and The Black Keys.
With each image, there is a slice of history that can be found among the entire collective such as the The Doors’ Morrison Hotel album cover shot by Diltz. Blachley shared the story on the process of making that shot work, as it was never really supposed to happen as it did. At first, the group wasn’t allowed to take the photo inside of the Los Angeles hotel. While on the streets, Jim Morrison, in true form, ran back inside with Ray Manzarek and the crew where Diltz grabbed the shot from the sidewalk.
“For me, it’s important because its something we have to preserve. People remember when music came in a 12-inch by 12-inch sleeve. People would read liner notes and it was a frame of reference. The covers were a part of the creative process that musicians went through,” Blachley said in reference to the preservation of the images.
During the span that many of the images were captured, there is a good understanding the photographers more than likely didn’t know the images they shot would be as important as they are today.
“They had no idea. Most of these guys were not paparazzi shooters. They hung out with the bands and were friends. There was a lot of trust in those days,” Blachley noted.
Blachley also has a storied music career of his own as he worked his way from the mailroom to the marketing division of Capitol Records. After his marketing stint, Blachley went into the world of video production and this is where his love for images began.
Soon after his Capitol Records career, Blachley met Henry Diltz and filmed a documentary on his work where he later met Richard Horowitz. While taking the photos on the road to see if there were any potential buyers, the trio found success and their next step was to find space and open the gallery.
“I’ve always loved music. I’ve been around it my whole life. I had a love of the visual side of music. Music is the best therapy in the world,” he admitted.
Blachley founded Morrison Hotel Gallery in 2001 with Horowitz and Diltz as partners.
Opening in New York City on the back end of the 9/11 tragedies, Blachley said people would visit their location and see images of Neil Young and familiar faces and find a solace within them.
“I think people embraced the gallery. People found peace with the photos,” Blachley said about their early days.
All of the images at the Bluebird will be signed and will be available for sale at Holly Williams’ H. Audrey.
For more information, visit morrisonhotelgallery.com.