Roger Barone Featured in South Philly Review Story–May 21, 2009
Although there were several errors in the story, I’m pleased with Amanda Snyder’s work. Ms. Snyder had three stories on the Review’s cover this week, a formiddable task, especially when you’re facing deadlines, so the minor typos and missing words aren’t that problematic.
Nonetheless, I will clarify content and context that could be misinterpreted.
1.When Stephen Stills arrived, I asked him if he’d take a photo with me. As I placed my arm around his shoulder, my friend and co-worker, Phil Amorosi, released the shutter, but the flash didn’t fire. Stills sympathetically replied,
“Man, you need to re-charge your battery.”
The batteries were fine, but the flash wasn’t properly seated on the hotshoe. I had plenty of Stills shots throughout the night, both on and off stage. In an earlier post, you can see Stills toweling off by the time clock before an encore.
2. “Barone started working the 11 pm to 6 am shift…”
There were no set shifts. The changeover crew work began immediately following the event, and lasted till the job was finished, sometimes it took all night and day, and on several occasions the openings were delayed.
3. “Little did I know at the time was my years at the Spectrum …”
An awkward construction, but I received an education at the Spectrum that was as intense, informative and illuminating as any Bachelor’s degree. I saw the world’s top entertainers and sports figures before, during and after their performances, explored various cultural events that I’d never have experienced otherwise: horse shows, rodeos, the Panov Ballet, Pavarotti, Ice Capades, Holidiay on Ice, the circus, tennis championships, lacrosse and soccer, in addtion, to boxing and the predetermined insanity of wrestling.
I was tutored by the top newsphotographers in the tri-state area, and, on occasion, the nation’s best sports and entertainment photographers. I learned how to assemble hockey rinks, piece together a basketball court and configure various stages.
I sipped Heinken for the first time backstage at an Allman Brothers’ concert, whose trucks were the first I’ve ever unloaded. It was thrilling, exciting. The roadies would yell out directions, dense in Dixie accents, “Y’all put Dicky’s [Betts] horns, stage left, Greg’s [Allman] Leslie ovah thare.”
I stood next to superstars. Up close, and, believe it or not, they really are just human beings. I learned how to condition my body and sleep patterns for shell-shocking nights of labor that could exceed 24 hours. At times, confusing a.m for p.m., and arriving twelve hours early.
Most important, I’ve made friendships with people from all over the country. Among them the sailors stationed on the USS Albany, who moonlighted at the Spectrum. It was fun, and my simple hobby lead to a career in photography.
3. “If they saw you carrying enough equipment … they figured you belonged. “
To obtain the access I had, several strategies were employed, among them, and most important was to get assigned to the truck unloading detail, where I’d have a chance to work with the band’s road crew and tour manager. It was important to be seen, and face recognition was essential. I would conspicuously carry equipment next to and before the road managers. Familiarity did not breed contempt, it bred ACCESS. On several occasions, they stood for me and said, “He’s ok.” When members of the entourage questioned my presence backstage.
4. “McCartney got out of the limo and threw me a frisbee.”
I held onto the frisbee, not expecting Paul to extend his hands and say, “Come, come, toss it back.” I shook hands with Paul about six times during the two days he performed at the Spectrum. I watched his rehearsal from the front of the stage, as I preoccupied myself with a roll of black linen tape, pretending to secure a drape in front of him. McCartney stood above me, playing his tan Rickenbacher bass, a cigarette burning within the tuning pegs. “Let Me Roll It … Let Me Roll It To You,” he sang, repeatedly as while perfecting his presentation. Several times he looked my way, winking or flashing a thumbs up.
After the rehearsal, I ran backstage, grabbed my camera from a brown paper bag, and waited. John Campoli, another friend, stood with me. as Paul bounced by, wearing a vest, wide-legged bell bottoms with a set of ivory wings draped around his neck. “Paul, Paul, can I take a picture of you.”
“Sure, man,” he said, in that all too familiar Beatle voice, as he shifted a leather jacket over his shoulder.
“Aim, focus, Pentax, click,” he said, playfully, providing a play-by-play account of my photography technique. “I’ve got to go now.” he said. We shook hands, he waved, and headed up the ramp to his dressing room with a woodcut engraving placed on the door that said, “Paul and Linda.”
He was great! Wonderfully appeasing and pleasant and ALL ALONE. This would never happen today. Employees are not even allowed to speak with the stars now. I wasn’t an autograph person, believing it to be a violation of privacy. Although I did break the covenant for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Bobby Knight and John Havlicek and, as expected, Bob [Bobby Clark].
5. “His way with a camera …”
I actually learned composition subconciously. After a night out partying, I would come home, place a live concert tape in my cassette player, get my headphones, and set up a Christmas tree style flood light, with four quadrants of rotating color panels focused on the assorted rock and roll photos plastered on my bedroom wall.
As the colors illuminated the pictures and posters, I stared and studied the angles, positions and poses, as well as, lighting, focus and depth of field. I didn’t have any technical training, and several years later, actually learned what composition meant, when I presented a Rock and Roll slide show on the campus of Arizona State University, as a group of art students complimented my ‘composition.”
When I began shooting my own pictures, I would look through the view finder and recall, “I want a shot like the Jagger on my wall, or Stills or whomever.” And I’d fram the image accordingly, occasionally, I’d stray from my conservative approach and shoot multi-exposure images. Springsteen (’78) is my best.
6. “Among Barone’s fondest moments”:
During the Crosby, Stills and Nash reheasal on June 23, 1977, Graham Nash called out to me from the stage. “Look, Look …” as Stephen Stills walked past me toward the seating area.
“Look, no cord,” Nash yelled, while gesturing toward the battery-pack powered amplification device connected to Stills’ guitar. Untethered, Stills freely roamed the arena, navigating through a sea of red chairs. I approached him, and asked if “it would be okay to take pictures.”
“Sure, man, go ahead.”
I followed behind as he walked along the dashers, blowing out the Spectrum while rehearsing an electric version of “Black Queen” on his brown Gibson Firebird. Stills circled the seating area, then took a seat, facing the stage in the middle of the arena. I sat next to him. Getting incredible shots.
“I wish I could have seen you with Jimi Hendrix,” I said.
He smiled and began finger picking a Hendrix tune. It sounded similar to the song that closed the Woodstock festival after the “Star Spangled Banner.” The neck of Stills’ guitar was encroaching on my vertical space.
After the sound check, I waited backstage until the show began, where I photographed them taking the stage.
NOTE: I had already shot about ten rolls, before my camera suddenly jammed. Instead of patiently waiting to fix it in a darkened area, I panicked, and thoughtlessly ripped it from the sprockets after opening the back, thinking it was unexposed and nothing would be lost .
When my slides were processed, I couldn’t wait to see the sound-check shots. My excitement ebbing and anxiety growing with every opened box. Finally, a single roll remained. My last hope; it was do or die for the sound check. “They had to be here,” I thought; THEY WEREN’T!
The prized shots were missing? Nowhere! I reviewed every frame from the entire collection a second time, like that second look into an empty refrigerator.
I felt sick.
Occasionally, I recall that moment when I mauled that jammed film without shielding it, then discarded it.
Time’s a great healer, and now I’m having fun sharing the images I did capture with friends and fans around the world.
roger barone: photosfromphilly