A lost collection of rock and roll photographs of Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, and many other greats is headed to the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica on April 13. The Lost Rock & Roll Negatives of Michael Friedman were discovered in 2016, nearly 50 years after the photographs were taken.
“I misplaced the negatives. I never even saw most of them,” Friedman told Amplify. “It was quite a discovery that my wife made. She found them in a box of old music contracts and papers that I had packed away in our attic. We didn’t even know what was on them. We had to have them all scanned.”
The thousands of negatives were scanned to discover candid photos of some of rock and rolls greatest stars from the 1960s including Joplin, Kris Kristofferson, the Rolling Stones, The Band, Rita Coolidge, and Todd Rundgren.
Friedman has unfettered access to the stars during his years working with famed rock manager Albert Grossman who worked with Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, and Peter, Paul, and Mary.
“When I got out of college I got a job doing publicity for a bunch of bands like Herman’s Hermits, Bee Gees and Paul Revere and the Raiders. It was during that period of the English Merseybeat in the mid-60s,” Friedman explained. “Through that I was introduced by a friend to Albert Grossman. At the time, Albert Grossman was the biggest manager in the business.”
Friedman, who was in his mid-twenties when he began working as a manager for Grossman, added “Albert needed help and we hit it off. He was spending a lot of time up in Woodstock, sort of building his studio and restaurant. He needed someone in the New York office to hold down the show there. I was there in the city for a couple of years and dealing with all of our artists.”
Photography for Friedman was a hobby at the time, but one he says he took seriously. While working with the artists and bands on tour and beyond, Friedman took candid photographs backstage and during performances. Of the thousands of photos recently rediscovered, 60 will go on display at the California Heritage Museum from April 14-July 15.
“My intention was just to be invisible, to not have anybody pose for me. Most of the pictures are fairly candid, even the ones that are backstage and the performance ones,” Friedman said. “I wasn’t there as a photographer, I was there are a member of the team. Everybody was pretty relaxed and comfortable around me because they knew me.”
Friedman’s exhibit will include never before seen images, all in black and white and up to five feet wide. The more than 60 images range from live performances, back stage antics, and intimate recording settings.
After the collection’s run at the California Heritage Museum, the entire collection will be acquired by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is currently expanding its photography wing and will feature Friedman’s work once the space is complete.
All photos are copyright of Michael Friedman.