Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

Arts & Entertainment
For the week of December 13 through 19, 2000

Along for the ride

Andrew Kent exhibits his photographs of David Bowie

Express Arts Editor

The world of rock and roll, especially during the era of the `60s and `70s, holds a special appeal to anyone even remotely old enough to have a connection to the period. Granted, there was a huge fallout in human life that the genre caused. Despite that fact, and perhaps because of it, we tend to be fascinated by the times. Photographer and valley resident Andrew Kent was about as close to the rock scene as anyone could have been and still have lived to tell the tale.

In a new group exhibit at Anam Cara Gallery that includes the work of fellow rock and roll photographers Jim Marshall and Barry Feinstein, Kent will be displaying his photography of a 1976 concert tour by David Bowie. The exhibit opens Thursday and runs through Jan. 4.

Kent spent 10 years shooting the rock and roll scene from 1968 to 1978. Currently, he has a thriving business photographing works of art for galleries and artists as well as doing commercial and catalog work. Kent recently took time out of his schedule to talk about his career in rock and roll photography.

It all began in 1968 when Kent traded a stereo system for a camera. He had been trained as an electrical engineer and had started a stereo business in the Los Angeles area. With his new camera, Kent took a photography class at Santa Monica City College. He couldn’t get enough of it.

Halfway through the class, Kent was asked by a friend at the Los Angeles Free Press to take some pictures for him. It turned out Kent’s first assignment as a photographer was to shoot pictures of the Black Panthers. They had had a confrontation with the police and Kent went to cover it.

"I got to go all through the inside of the Black Panthers’ headquarters, with the bullet holes in the walls and the sandbags…It was something."

With that kind of a first assignment, Kent decided to stay on as a staff photographer with the Los Angeles. Free Press. He was covering, primarily, political stories. "But suddenly I saw that I could go to rock and roll shows at will—whatever I wanted to do for the magazine. So, I started shooting everything and everyone that performed in L.A."

After he printed a photograph of Elton John in the newspaper, Kent was contacted by John’s publicist and offered money for the photograph. It was his first sale.

"I found that there was a commercial world out there for this work," Kent said. So, in 1970, he and a partner started a business shooting rock and roll bands. They went on all sorts of assignments for record companies and publicists, shooting everybody in the business.

And Kent’s resume bears this out. In a 10-year span, he shot more than 200 rock stars, everyone from The Band, to Jim Morrison, to the Rolling Stones, to Frank Zappa.

Kent’s work for David Bowie started out modestly enough. He was asked to take photographs of Bowie’s appearance on Soul Train. Bowie loved the work and eventually hired Kent to shoot his 1976 concert tour.

"It was total immersion for six months," Kent said. "I was with them all of the time, probably one of three or four in his intimate circle."

"He was the best person I ever worked for…It was his shape, the way he set himself and the way he moved. I took the best pictures I’ve ever taken. I was totally motivated. I was making a lot of money. I was having a great time. I was traveling around the world first-class…all of it was great."

By 1978, Kent’s business had grown so much that he found himself spending more time running a business than doing photography. He decided to close up shop and move to Ketchum.

I asked Kent, with a more sedate work schedule shooting art and catalog photographs, if he missed the rock and roll scene?

"Not one bit. Capitalize and underline that. But I don’t regret a moment. I left happy and never looked back. I still live with it, though. It was a wonderful time, and I still get to make money on it [through sales of his photographs to MTV and VH1]. What could be better than that?"

He also indicated the industry had changed quite a bit over the years. "Back then, we had lots of access. We got to go to everything. Everybody wanted us to be there. There are so many more people in the marketplace now. So you go to a show, and they let you shoot for three songs…and then you have to leave."

It is apparent that Kent’s timing was impeccable. He was on the inside during the heyday of a remarkable time. Now he enjoys life in the Wood River Valley, hunting, fishing, and pursuing other avenues of photography.

A lot of people didn’t make it out of the era. For Kent’s part, he maintained a professional approach to the work. "I had a good time, but it was a job. I didn’t stay after…I didn’t hang out with the bands. I was working for them, and that was part of the whole thing. I didn’t put myself in the scene other than the fact I was working in the scene. And that’s how I came out of it alive."


Back to Front Page
Copyright © 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.