Barry Feinstein: Photographer acclaimed for his work with Bob Dylan

 

Thanks to his work with musicians such as Bob Dylan, Donovan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Janis Joplin and Gram Parsons, the American photographer Barry Feinstein was rightly considered to be one of the most influential practitioners of the art of rock photography. In particular, his photos of Dylan's 1966 European tour with the Band, when the singer-songwriter was heckled after he had "gone electric", captured a performer on the edge and helped turn him into a mythical figure.

Feinstein had already shot a memorable, brooding portrait of Dylan for the cover of The Times They Are a-Changin', the musician's third album in 1964, and was commissioned by LIFE magazine to photograph the 1966 tour.

"The shows were thrilling," he recalled. "I would watch from the side of the stage and pick my moment carefully. I was in a unique position, given complete access and trust during a very special period." Feinstein enjoyed a special rapport with Dylan and once drove with him from California to New York to deliver a Rolls-Royce bought by the singer's manager, Albert Grossman. "It was really a great adventure. I saw Bob perform hundreds of times, travelled with him, often spent 24 hours a day with him. Sometimes there were thousands of people at a concert, other times it was just the two of us. I liked his work, Bob liked mine. He knew I would make him look interesting and he was interesting. He was comfortable with me and my cameras."

When Dylan and the Band performed together again in 1974, Feinstein was retained as tour photographer and came up with the striking picture of fans waving lighters that graced the cover of the joint live recording Before The Flood.

Feinstein's photos appeared on over 500 albums, and featured a variety of techniques, including a fish-eye lens for the Byrds' debut Mr Tambourine Man (1965), controversial or quirky juxtapositions as in the case of Ike and Tina Turner's Outta Season (1968, the duo caked in whiteface, biting into slices of watermelons) and Harrison's All Things Must Pass (1970, the ex-Beatle pictured surrounded by garden gnomes in the grounds of his home at Friar Park).

For Pearl by Janis Joplin (1971), the photo session took place the night before she died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles. However, the graffiti-covered toilet wall Feinstein shot for the Rolling Stones' album Beggars Banquet in 1968 proved too much for Decca in the UK and London in the US, though it was used for the 2002 CD reissue.

Born in Philadelphia in 1931, Feinstein was an only child and dropped out after a year at the University of Miami. He discovered his photographic ability while taking pictures at at the Atlantic City racetrack, where he worked in 1955. He joined LIFE as a photographic assistant but soon relocated to Los Angeles. Working as a production assistant at Columbia Pictures, he carried a camera and took unlikely photos of the studio parking lots and the Hollywood sign from the back – "the part of Hollywood that nobody thinks about or looks at," as he put it. Promoted to studio photographer, he took pictures of Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Charlton Heston and Jayne Mansfield, accompanied Marlon Brando to a civil rights rally in 1963 and photographed Steve McQueen on the set of Bullitt.

Feinstein favoured an instinctive approach and excelled at the unexpected. When Magnum sent him to cover Marilyn Monroe's death in 1962, he zoomed in on the bottle of pills by her bedside. He also photographed Presidents John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon and was published in Time, Esquire and Newsweek as well as countless European publications.

In the early 1960s, Feinstein met Grossman in Los Angeles and was asked to take pictures of his charges, the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. He started a relationship with the singer Mary Travers, whom he subsequently married. This placed Feinstein at the epicentre of the Greenwich Village folk explosion and brought him into Dylan's orbit.

In 1967, Feinstein was one of the cameramen helping DA Pennebaker capture the Monterey Pop Festival. The following year, he directed You Are What You Eat, a counter-culture semi-documentary that featured David Crosby, Barry McGuire, Tiny Tim and Frank Zappa. In 1971, he photographed Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden.

He remained in demand throughout the 1970s and '80s but found that the restricted access he was getting to musicians stunted his approach. In 1993, he was badly injured in a crash with a drunk driver near his home in Woodstock. While recovering, he began looking at the contact sheets in his archive and assembled Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric: The Lost Manuscript, a book of film star portraits that also incorporated 23 "cosmic prose" poems written by Dylan in the 1960s. It was published in 2008, along with Real Moments, a collection of Feinstein's photos of Dylan from 1966 that were also exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

"Musicians are easier to photograph than movie stars," Feinstein said recently. "They're just not as uptight."

Barry Feinstein, photographer: born Philadelphia 4 February 1931; married firstly Mary Travers (marriage dissolved; one daughter), secondly Carol Wayne (marriage dissolved; one son), 2000 Judith Jamison; died Kingston, New York 20 October 2011.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions