The Last Waltz with Jim Marshall

03/31/2010

By Victoria Smith


Photo by Victoria Smith

Jim Marshall, rock’s greatest photographer, passed away in NYC the night of March 23rd at the age of 74. The lifelong San Francisco resident was an icon and true character. He was a massive talent and one of the most significant contributors to rock ‘n roll photography. He was a rambler, a rock star, gonzo..

Guns, whiskey, cocaine and Leica cameras were Jim Marshall’s signature characteristics, though they housed a soft underbelly. Jim was a loyal friend with a big heart. He’d be telling someone to “fuck off” then turn his attention back to the phone in his ear and continue with “yes sweetie, thank you very much.”

Rolling Stones first Chief of Photography, Baron Wolman, once told me Jim had a light meter in his head. Jim documented the world of music for almost fifty years, accumulating a staggering body of work.

Last month, Jim told me a story about how he had sold a bag of cocaine to Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter was unconvinced of the quality of the bag and argued. Jim said “If it’s not good, you can have it. If it is good, you pay me double.” Thompson paid double in the end.

His talent, his character and his infamous middle finger will very much and forever be missed.


Photo by Pilar Law