First Glance of “God Bless The Spectrum”


I was invited to a special farewell event at the Spectrum on Saturday afternoon. The public was invited, too. For $30,  fans were welcomed to a final skate (four, 30-minute sessions were scheduled) on the arena’s hockey surface. The price also included a voucher for a copy of God Bless The Spectrum ($24.95).

Several legendary Flyers participated in the event. Dave Shultz and Bob Kelly,  from the  ’74 and ’75 Stanley Cup teams,  signed autographs, posed for photos and re-enacted their roles as enforcers while excited fans tossed off their gloves and challenged  the “The Hammer” and  “Hound Dog.” Shultz ultimately settled for a sentimental seat in the penalty box, while Kelly stood at center ice pulling hockey jerseys over his fanatical foes’ heads.

Unfortunately, I arrived a few minutes too late to obtain a copy of the book, all 100 copies sold out in a matter of minutes, according to Ike Richman, the vice-president of global communications for Comcast/Specatacore management. As we stood in the Spectrum’s club, we spotted a fan browsing through a copy. He was gracious enough to share a glimpse and  passed the book to us.

I saw my pictures in their final form for the first time. It was exciting. The Led Zeppelin pages were better than expected, especially the black and white shot of Robert Plant, a recent Grammy winner, which figured into the photo’s full-page size. The backstage group shot was equally impressive, considering I had to convince the editors to include it. Space was tight in a book that could easily fill 300 pages.

A tight crop of the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards backstage, emphasizing his face, reduced the clarity a bit. Aside from a few color modifications, the book was great. I was surprised to see how many of my photos were used. Oddly enough, my favorite picture is by another photographer.

Mike Lessner, a long-ago friend, whom I’d taken back stage on many occasions and during George Harrison’s concerts was a major influence on me. He gave me serval photos from shows I attended My life changed on the night I met my first Beatle. and Lessner’s photo reminds me of  that moment everytime I see it. The career, the friendships, the historic photos, meeting  the world’s most recognized and influential people–that’s what i see in Lessner’s Harrison. I was next to him when the shot was taken. It’s my view, interpreted through his skill and vision.

Another favorite photo is a shot of my changeover crew co-workers playing a pickup game at 6 a.m.   Playing ball on the Sixers’ court after a basketball set up was one of many unadvertised perks that accompanied the job–in addition to autographs,  unimaginable souveners, and, in my case, historic photos and a career.

Following a tsunami of spellbinding moments and hall-of-famers like Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley and “The Answer,”  we see our very own Mike Kennedy. His frozen form, following a foul shot, fifteen feet away from a net suspended above the rim, a perfect swish petrified in the physics of jute twine–for posterity. A blue collar tribute; a  Dornhoefer bronze for the common man. Kennedy’s ‘”swish” will share the  spotlight with Duke’s Christian Laetner’s last second heave from the heavens–eternally. Kennedy and his predecessors on previous pages have been blessed by osmosis.

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~ by photosfromphilly on April 12, 2009.

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