photo: Jay Blakesberg
“Trigger… It is what it is. I have pictures of Willie playing Trigger back when I was in high school. Pictures that I took in 1979. It’s obviously taken on mythological proportions at this point. I mean that hole in the guitar alone is enough to be an entire book and conversation starter. But you know, it’s the guitar that Willie loves the sound of and he’s not filling in that hole because it’s part of the personality of that guitar. I think it’s such a beautiful instrument. I love the close-up of that particular guitar. The detail of it, the autographs… When you get up close to it, a lot of the autographs were written in ballpoint pen… on that soft wood gives it that bumpy look. The guitar is gorgeous as it is, a beat up and dilapidated instrument and someday it’ll probably be in a museum, behind glass and never played again.”
by: Joe Raniere
In the mid-seventies, rock photographer Jay Blakesberg started shooting concerts with his father’s camera as a way to produce his own personal memorabilia. In the years that would follow, his photos would go from being his bedroom wall décor to being published in magazines, books and on websites, social media pages, album covers and album sleeves. Like his hero Jim Marshall before him, Blakesberg’s extensive body of work includes portraits and live performance shots of many of the most iconic music figures of his time, such as; The Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, the Who, Carlos Santana, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, John Lee Hooker, the Allman Brothers Band, Phish, B.B. King, the Black Crowes, Tom Petty, U2, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, Radiohead, the Talking Heads and many more. In more recent years, his career has grown to include titles such as filmmaker and publisher.
On May 19th, Blakesberg released Guitars That Jam, a new coffee table book that includes nearly 200 pages of photos of legendary, big-name and on-the-rise guitarists with their beloved axes. Accompanying the photos are personal tales written by the guitarists about their instruments featured in each shot. Together, Blakesberg’s vibrant photos and the featured guitarists’ passionate and informative words result in a multimedia celebration of the most defining instrument in rock music.
Shortly after the book’s release, we caught up with Blakesberg to talk a little bit about Guitars that Jam and what else he has in store for 2015.
First question, so who is this book for?
This book is for music fans. I think that there’s a lot of mystery about guitars that non-musicians would like to learn about. There’s also a lot of information that guitar players would want to hear from the musicians in this book. There are gazillions of people out there who are closet guitar players… Who have bought guitars and tried to learn to play guitars… I think that those people would enjoy these stories.
Some of the stories in the book are very technical and some of the stories are very emotional and personal. So it’s a good mixture of how people relate to their instruments, or at least how the musicians in this book relate to their instruments.
What was it that inspired this project?
In my previous book, Jam, there was a whole bunch of close-ups of guitars on the inside cover and those photos really resonated with a lot of people, which gave me a really cool idea. I just kind of took off on the original concept of Jam, which was to have the artists talk about playing onstage, to improvise and you know, the connection that made to the music. I took that same theme and same idea and applied it to the musicians talking about their instruments. I had a bunch of shots like those on the inside cover of Jam,some of those made it into the book and some of those didn’t. Once we came up with this idea, I went out and shot a whole bunch of new artists and new guitars and new shots of the same artists that I already had shots of previously in Jam. A publisher then approached me and said they wanted to do the book. That was a publisher that passed on Jam, and I think that after they passed on Jam they were like “Hmmm, maybe we shouldn’t have passed on Jam.” They liked the idea of this book and we partnered up and the editor of the publishing company that I was assigned to did all of the interviews and we got some great stories out of the artists about their instruments and I think that’s how it all sort of came about.
Read entire article, see more of Jay’s great photos here: