In the world of music magazine publishing, Jim Marshall was probably just as important as the musicians he photographed. In an industry where image so frequently becomes perception, Marshall’s keen eye and skilled craftsmanship produced thousands of photographs which may have done more to shape many artists’ images than the artists did for themselves.
As voyeurs of all things guitar, we have seen many of these iconic images: Duane Allman practicing in a motel bathroom, Hendrix with his fist in the air, Jerry Garcia sitting in the dirt at Woodstock, and other equally powerful shots. In some ways, Marshall’s photos propelled the artists farther than the printed words that accompanied them.
In the 26 years I knew and worked with Jim, I never met a photographer more dedicated to the purity of his craft, or more solid in the belief that his photos were an integral part of the fabric of the music scene.
When I began my career as a magazine designer, Jim Marshall was a larger-than-life figure. Even as we grew to become friends and collaborators, I was always a bit intimidated by his intense demand that the standards he set for his own quality and attention-to-detail be matched by everyone. To me, he will always be the gold standard for music photography.
Jim passed away in New York on March 24, as he was embarking on a book signing tour. He was a unique fixture in the framework of our professional and personal lives. The industry will be poorer without him.