Birdwell Blog

On the Beach with Rick Griffin and Henry Diltz
Dazzling Blue #79

The artist Rick Griffin created some of the most iconic psychedelic posters and album cover artwork of the ‘60s—Grateful Dead, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Quicksilver Messenger Service, etc.—as well as the original logo for Rolling Stone. He produced cartoon strips for Surfer in the magazine’s early days, and posters for the surf films Pacific Vibrations, Five Summer Stories, and Blazing Boards. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1991. His contribution to surf culture is formidable.

 

 

     Henry Diltz has been shooting rock ‘n’ roll for 50 years. He was the official photographer at Woodstock, and has shot over 200 album covers. His subjects include Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Doors, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, and many others. Now 79, he is still vigorously at it. When I spoke to him on the phone he was fired up about shooting the band The Decemberists and the singer Paige Califano.

 

   

     Henry and Rick were friends, they got together and shot the below photo, though true to the era, Henry cannot remember exactly when or exactly where. He’s vibrant and uber-inspired on all other fronts though. “I get really excited about framing,” he told me. “I have a framing jones. I like to look at the world through a frame. The way you frame it is what makes a great picture. First I frame it, then I get the people or person in there, then I wait till I get the right expression or the right look. You’ve got that one split second where, ‘Ah! Click.’”

 

Here’s Rick and Henry, and a little backstory—

 

 

“I remember that day. I went there with a guy named Gary Burden, who just left the planet about a week ago. He was an art director and my partner in doing album covers—we did about 100 together in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. We both knew Rick as a graphic artist. He had worked on a couple of covers that we did. We did one for Richard Pryor where he’s crouching down naked like an aboriginal native. It looked so much like National Geographic that we wanted to add that kind of a border around it, and we had Rick Griffin draw a yellow border with oak leaves to sort of simulate a National Geographic cover. After it came out we got two letters: one from the National Geographic lawyers saying they were going to sue us for defaming their famous logo, and the second one was a nomination for Album Cover of the Year. Rick did some lettering on several albums that we did. He was such a great artist and such a great friend. We used to talk about lettering a lot. I’m a student of calligraphy, and all kinds of lettering, and to this day I take about ten pictures of lettering every single day. So Rick Griffin and I had this interest in lettering in common. And he used to say that I had the best lettering, and I would laugh and say, ‘Are you kidding, you’re the god of lettering!’”

 

 

For more of Henry Diltz click HERE.

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