8.2.15

JIM MARSHALL & MILES DAVIS

Here’s another story from Jim Marshall’s book Trust, and in it he explains the reason for the title. The picture below is Jim’s shot of John Coltrane that he talks about below, and further down is his picture of Miles Davis backstage at the Isle of Wight Festival, 1970. I was knocking around somewhere there but wouldn’t have had the bottle to approach Davis, not in a million years!


“I first photographed Miles Davis in 1959, but not too well. I remember after a show in Berkeley California, a little later around 1960, I went up to him backstage and asked why he had a green trumpet. He shot back at me, ‘Motherfucker, do I ask you why you have a black camera?!’ Frightened the shit outta me for the next five years! After I moved to NY in 1962, I did a couple of covers for Miles, live records on Columbia. I went down the first time he played for Bill Graham at Winterland in San Francisco. I had made him a picture of my Coltrane photo that I had taken in John’s garden. Backstage was crazy. He was surrounded by all the media, press, local TV stations and newspapers… it was a real big deal. I saw him and said, ‘Hey Miles’ he sort of grunted and acknowledged my presence. I gave him the print and said, ‘This is for you.’ ‘What is it? I’m busy.’ ‘It’s just something for you.’ ‘I’m busy,’ he says again. I walked away and he opens the package. People are all over him, asking questions, bothering him and trying to get to him, he tells them all to shut the fuck up and leave him alone. He’s looking at the print. He loved Coltrane. ‘Hey Marshall, did you take this of John? You knew him like that? Why don’t you take pictures of me like this?’ And I said, ‘Why don’t you let me?’ After that I could do whatever I wanted with him. He had his moods but we were cool. It was trust. If John trusted me, then so did Miles and with trust I got great shots of him.”

“Backstage at the Isle Of Wight Festival, England 1970. Miles had asked Columbia Records to send me and Fred Lombardi who was a staff photographer, with him to shoot the performance as they were recording the show. The backstage vibe was very uptight. I had all the right credentials and passes but as we were going up to the stage some motherfucker told me to stop and said I couldn’t go on stage. I called Miles and he said, ‘What is it?’ The guy tells him, ‘Sorry Mr Davis, he can’t go up there with you. I’m sorry.’ Miles came down and said it was cool. I looked at Miles like ‘come on’ then he says, ‘Motherfucker, I fucking flew Jim from San Francisco to photograph me here, and you don’t let him up here with me. I’m gonna go out there and tell them 300,000 crazy motherfuckers you won’t let me play.’ So I was on stage with Miles, it was a great show. President (Bill) Clinton has a print of this photo in his collection. I got a nice note from him about it.”

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