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  • Bob Gruen

    Posted March, 2010

    bobgruen1Bob Gruen @ MoMA Collage Exhibit © Mandi NewallElvis.  Aerosmith. Elton John.  The Stones.  Alice Cooper. Zeppelin.  Lennon/Yoko. Dylan. Frampton.

    These artists and icons dominated my mind (besides girls) in my youth.  Photo’s torn from my favorite rock magazines and posters purchased in the store (for the astronomical price of $1!) hung on my bedroom walls.

    The images are burned into the firmware of my mind.  Their poses, grimaces and smiles frozen forever in their youth.  The close that they were in the shots influenced how I dressed and looked.  Jeans and jackets were purchased because of something similar Bob Dylan wore in a photo.  Platform shoes?  Thank you, Elton John.  Hair?  Thanks to a still shot of Mick Jagger in concert at Madison Square Garden, I started parting my longish hair in the middle, trying to feather it back just like Mick.

    What single thread runs through these memories?  Many of the photos that hung on my walls, influenced my “look” and burned into my memory banks were taken by famous rock photographer, Bob Gruen.

    Gruen was destined for rock and roll.  An avid fan of The Who in the sixties, they were the band that compelled him to join a crowd a half a million strong at a place called Yasgur’s Farm.  There, he witnessed not only the band that he braved the crowds and eliments to see, but many other historic performances that made the Woodstock festival the stuff of legends.

    After Woodstock, Gruen eventually worked his way to the position of chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine.  This afforded him the coveted vantage point of creating candid photos of bands and artist on and off the stage. 

    Bob Gruen didn’t allow himself to be stuck in the seventies.  His interest in the music scene allowed him to effortlessly go with the flow of changes in the sights and sounds of musical tastes.  Gruen has covered almost every major act and artist the 70’s to today.

    I recently caught up with Bob Gruen, by phone, at his gallery in New York City.  For some reason, I decided to start off the interview by asking Bob what career path he would’ve chosen had he not gone down the rock photographer path.  As with his answer during the rest of our conversation, his answers are open, honest and transparent.

    “I have no idea.  Well, the 60’s were a different time from now.  Now, people really plan their future and their career.  In the 60’s it was turn on, tune in and drop out.  And that’s basically what I did.  I wasn’t really thinking about a career.  I didn’t really do very well in school and I didn’t have a major in college.

    “I had an older brother who was an overachiever who always got straight A’s and it kind of left me with not much will to succeed on that level – to compete on that level.  So, I was living with a rock and roll band and having a good time. “

    So, the obvious question in your mind would be, why photography, so I asked.

    “Photography was always my hobby and I got pretty good at it.  When the band got signed, they used my pictures for the publicity.  I started meeting publicists for record companies and they started hiring me to take more and more pictures.  It just worked out that way. 

    “I didn’t really have a plan to be a photographer in any specific sense – to be anything.  A policeman, fireman, anything like that. I really didn’t have a plan.  I was aimless.”

    Boy, weren’t we all!

    Having read his thoughts about attending Woodstock, I asked if he took any pictures while he was there.

    “I did, actually.  I went as a fan of The Who and I like camping out.  Me and a couple of friends went up there to have a good time.  It’s funny, the pictures I took.  I did take pictures of my friends inside our tent so I have some ‘head shots’ with a green tent behind them but they don’t show much of the festival. 

    “I did find a couple of dozen pictures of the festival that I took - a couple around my tent and a couple of the stage area.  I didn’t take any of the acts.  I wasn’t there to work in that sense.  I hadn’t yet started getting into the music business yet.  

    Last summer, a French magazine asked me to put down my memories from Woodstock.  He (the editor) liked the idea that I was there as a fan and not working so I put together a story and put it up on my website (here.).

    I asked Bob if he attended the 40th anniversary festivities back in August of last year.

    “Not the 40th.  No, we didn’t go – or the 30th.  We went to, I think, the 25th.  Not the one that turned into an overblown riot but the first reunion which turned into a drunken mess.   We left half way through it.

    “Actually, I went up the hill into Woodstock to see a real show.  We saw The Fugs, with Alan Ginsberg, who were playing on the Saturday night of the festival. 

    All of us have stories of regrets and missed opportunities.  I asked Gruen if there were any shots or gigs that got away from him that he regretted missing.

    “Oh, well, there are a lot of things I missed.  I wish that I could have photographed Otis Redding but I started a little too late to connect with him.  I met Jimi Hendrix once.  He said, ‘We’ll meet again’ but he was wrong” he adds with a sad chuckle before concluding by saying,  “But, other than that, I’ve pretty much met or photographed everybody that I wanted to.

    Lots of changes have happened both in the music business and in the world of photography in general.  I asked Bob what he viewed as the most positive changes in his line of work.

    “Oh, well, the ease of delivery.  We don’t have to rush to dupe slides and hire messengers and ship things to England overnight.  The idea of making multiple prints and rush and having to get them out to all the different magazines . . . now we just e-mail scans.  It’s a lot easier.”

    And the biggest negative change in his line of work?

    “Photography has gotten so easy that there’s tens of millions of people doing it!

    “It used to be that a photographer had to be somewhat nerdy – to be a bit of a tech guy.  You had to focus and know what F stops and speeds meant.  You had to be able to develop and print film.  All of those things have been automated.  Now, you just pick up your phone and push one more button and whatever you’re looking at can be seen around the world.  That’s quite an advance.”

    Gruen had voiced his displeasure with websites like Flikr. I wanted to know, though, if he saw the internet as more of a positive or a negative in his industry.

    “Well, it negatively affects the work because people tend to think that everything they see on the internet is ‘free’.  Content is what I’ve sold all my life.  Everybody think it’s free.  It’s similar to the downloading of music files, people just take pictures and move them from one site to another and use them any way they want without even thinking that they have to pay for it.  So, this tremendously cuts into the income when people aren’t paying for your work.

    I thought for sure that the proliferation of music videos and concert DVD’s over the years would have hurt the photography trade. Bob’s insights into this area set me straight on that perception.

    “People tend to watch videos on YouTube or whatever.  You can’t put YouTube on your wall unless you have a big screen on your wall.  It recently came up in an article.  There was an exhibit recently at the Brooklyn Museum of Art called ‘Who Shot Rock’.  It’s about Rock Photography.  The reviewer wrote that he felt that video was the better way to review it.  We all could’ve been up in arms about that. 

    “Video hardly captured the excitement of rock and roll at all.  To capture one peak moment in a still photograph that says so much about the energy and excitement, the mood of an artist - you can only do that in a photograph – a photograph that you can put on a wall and it’s just there.  You feel the inspiration.  Not like having to turn on a TV or to operate the machinery or video.  I don’t think that video cuts into the still.  The appreciation is still photo. “

    As stated earlier, Bob Gruen isn’t stuck in the past.  I was curious, however, what his thoughts of the past are.  His answer is both philosophical and reflective.

    “I respect the past and I think people should learn from the past but I don’t dwell in the past.  I don’t wish that I could go back to Max’s.  It’s like we shouldn’t even go back to high school.  Some people do but I certainly don’t.  I look forward , looking for new experiences.

    Fast-forwarding to the present, I asked Bob what bands and artists command his attention today.  His response is instant.

    “Greenday.  There are a few others that I enjoy. I’ve seen Courtney Love.  She’s a riveting performer.  You can’t take your eyes off of her.  But Greenday is certainly the top band of the land.  They’re the most powerful and meaningful band around.  And the most fun, especially if you’ve ever seen them live.  They’re the most fun band around today.

    “There’s a group here in New York that I like called The Sex Slaves. They’re very  blunt and also a lot of fun.  But there’s not a lot.  I was never somebody who ever sought to follow every single group that ever existed and have an encyclopedic knowledge of it.  I just follow what I like.  I’m a fan.  I mostly follow my friends or people friends recommend.  I’m not out every night on the prowl looking for a new band.

    “I’m a bit older now.  Thirty years ago it was fun for me to sit on a bus with 22 year olds who are getting drunk but it’s not really the same any more for me.”  With a laugh, he adds, “I’m a grandfather nowadays,  I prefer to spend time with my family.

    With the mention of his family, I commented on the fact that his son, Khris, is pursuing a little bit different route in the music business than his.

    “Yeah, he’s just finishing up his third CD, which should be out soon.  He’s got his fans and he’s getting more and more popular.   He started kind of late – somewhat intimidated by my reputation.  Also, my ex-wife married Joe Beck, the jazz guitar player, who is a world famous musician. And I think that, rather than encouraging Khris, it kind of held him back a bit because he felt he couldn’t on that kind of level.  And I’m very happy to see that he’s doing very well on his own and enjoying it a lot.

    In the course of the conversation, I mention the use of his photo of John Lennon that graces the cover of Philip Norman’s biography of the man.  It brought to mind the many others Bob Gruen had known because of his line of work.  I asked him who are some of the people that he misses either due to their death or retirement from active life and what is it that you miss about them?

    “I miss Joe Strummer – being able to hang out with him and spend time with him.  His shows were great.  He was great.  It was great fun. Whenever my wife and I would go out to dinner with Joe Strummer, we would have to remind each other to bring our sunglasses because we knew we weren’t coming back until after the sun was up.  When you walk out of a bar at eight in the morning you NEED your sunglasses” he finishes with a laugh.

    “Of course, I miss John Lennon – hanging out with him.  He was great. Every time I saw him, I felt that I learned something.   I miss a lot of people.  I miss Johnny Thunders.  Joey Ramone.  But I make new friends.  The Sex Slaves, Green Day.  You move on.  That’s the down side to living longer than your friends, missing them” he says with a chuckle.

    With so many accomplishments that he can point to, I asked Bob what he would like to achieve that he hasn’t already.  His deadpan answer floored me.

    “Make a lot of money.”

    Say WHAT?! I thought rock photographers made a lot of money?

    “No, this is a VERY low budget operation!  I don’t know if there was more than two or three times in my life when I started the month with enough money to finish it.  I mean, I never had a cushion where I knew my bills were paid.  I’ve always had to work every week to insure that I would have an income.

    “I think that people tend to think that if you hang out with Led Zeppelin or John Lennon that you have that kind of money – that you live on that kind of level rather than just visit.  I visit.  But then I come home to a small apartment in the Village.  I don’t have a yacht. For many years I never even had a new car.  Only recently, because my wife has an income and she shares with me am I able to lease a new car.

    “I’m doing much better than I used to.  I’m at least leasing a new car rather than driving my old beaters.  It’s a misconception that you live the high life and travel around and make a lot of money.  Some photographers do.  A few. Not many. 

    “Certain photographers working with a ‘boy band’ who sells dozens and dozens of pictures to every magazine around the world - if you have good access to them then you can make some good money.  But, for most people shooting most bands, especially nowadays there are so many magazines and so many online so-called magazines that pay practically nothing because there are tens of thousands of people interested in photography since it got so easy.  And many of them will just give away a picture for the credit.

    “So, though prices have increased ten-fold, payment for photographs haven’t increased much at all since the 70’s.  If anything, it’s going down because of so many more people willing to just put it out there for credit.

    “And then other things like Corbis and Getty – the major photo agencies that are buying up the other smaller photo agencies in the world – they’re trying to own the content and so they’re purposely setting out to put photo agencies and photographers out of business by licensing photos at tremendously discounted rates.  I mean, photos that we license for four or five hundred dollars, they license for five or ten dollars, literally that kind of difference. And to have to try and compete with those kinds of prices, we can’t.  That’s the point: those kinds of companies want to put all of the other people out of business.  They want to own all of the content for the future because content is king on the internet.”

    Wow!  Who woulda thunk it?

    How about touring exhibits?  I wanted to find out where I could see exhibitions featuring his art and if books were available featuring him.

    “I don’t really have a world-wide agent organizing that.  I’m still pretty independent here.  So, I only do a few exhibitions a year.  I do have a some planned in June for London and, possibly, in the fall in Paris.  My John Lennon book is going to come out in French next October in France. 

    “I just had a big collage piece of my work that was in the Museum of Modern Art over the last summer, but that’s over now.  ‘Who Shot Rock’ is going to travel to five other museums.  It may actually be down south there.

    “We’re also excited about getting the show together for the opening here in NY – I don’t even have the list of where it’s going.  It closed here January 31st.  But then I know that it’s going to travel to a few other places.

    “My website,, directs people to most of the available things.  My photos are available from several different galleries here in the states.  There’s one in particular that does a lot of business online.  My books, Clash is still in print but hard to get.  John Lennon is still available.  The New York Dolls book is available on Amazon or or whatever website people want to go to. 

    “The best collection of my work, called Rockers. Currently it’s only published in Brazil but it’s available on my website but it’s a little pricey because it’s heavy and we have to ship it.  I think its $60 or $70 with the shipping.  But that’s the biggest collection of my work.

    “I’m currently just beginning to work on a book that will be out in the fall 2011 that will be an American published collection of my work.”

    My time with Bob Gruen was quickly coming to a close and I had a couple of more questions that I just had to ask.  One had to do with his thoughts about the artists’ he knew (other than Lennon) who are no longer with us.

    “Joe Strummer comes to mind first.  I spent a lot of time with him.  Joey Ramone.  He was a wonderfully sweet guy. Johnny Thunders was a good friend.”

    What about the other artist who he wasn’t quite as close to?

    “Quite a lot of my photos were just done as jobs.  They were friendly but not necessarily friends.  You’re pleased to see each other but you don’t go out to dinner with each other. Some of them you develop friendships with. As in any business where you work with a lot of people there’s certain people that you hit it off with and wind up being friends with.

    “I was lucky in that way to have a number of good friends.”

    I thought I was wrapping up the interview by commenting as to how I thought it said a lot about him with the fact that he was able to develop the relationship and friendship with John Lennon and Yoko and that he still has the relationship with Yoko.  Only expecting a “thank you” for the compliment, Gruen, instead, takes the opportunity to defend his good friend, Yoko Ono.

    “You know, Yoko’s been very maligned in the newspapers and in the press.  With her new album in the past year, she’s got quite a bit of positive press.  But, when people ask me what kind of women Yoko is, I always say that she’s the kind of women that John Lennon could marry.”

    Since he opened the door to discussing Yoko Ono, I asked Bob what he thought the biggest misconception about her was.

    “The biggest misconception?  That she doesn’t have a sense of humor. John said that she’s the most famous unknown artist in the world.  Everybody knows who she is but nobody knows what she does.  And I think with her new album out, she’s getting a lot of press, she’s getting a lot of attention.  More people are getting to see her perform and starting to get an idea of what a wonderfully open and how much humor her work has.

    “She’s quite prolific.  On her website, Imagine Peace, she answers 10 to 15 questions every week from people all over the world.  They just write in questions and she comes up with almost zen-like answers.  She’s got a Twitter feed that she updates every few hours with, again, zen-like conceptual art ideas.  She’s just fascinating.”

    Soon after, we wrapped up our chat.  While going through the rest of my hectic schedule on that January day, I reflected on the gems that Bob Gruen gave me in the way of stories and quotes.  I also realized that Bob still influences us today.  Long gone is our ability to squeeze into hip-hugging bell-bottom jeans and whose feet can handle wearing platform shoes? And I don’t even want to go down the path of discussing my hair. 

    No, those are pains we can do without.  However, while Bob’s work from the past brings us smiles and memories, his work today is creating new impressions that will stay with us for the rest of our days.

    Thank you, Bob Gruen, for all that you’ve done and are doing.

  • Bob Gruen Discusses "See Hear Yoko"

    April, 2015

    BobGruen CBGB 102006 HannaToressonPhoto by © Hanna ToressonIn a world where fame and notoriety comes and goes and technology can make skilled artisans obsolete, legendary photographer, Bob Gruen, is still on the cutting edge of capturing intriguing and relevant images of people we’re all interested in.

    Yet, as he still successfully crafts sought after photographic excellence in a world of Instagrams and YouTube, it’s the iconic work of his past that still excites people. 

    Known for some of the most touching and historic images of the last nine years of John Lennon’s life, Gruen continues to work with Yoko Ono as her photographer and, more importantly, is still there for her as a trusted friend.

    A couple of years ago, Bob and rock radio’s “Voice of Austin, Texas,” Jody Denberg, put together a book of photos Gruen had taken over the years and quotes from Jody’s work with Yoko. The tome was a gift for Yoko’s 80th birthday (yeah, way).

    As is often the case with Yoko, things tied to her and her late husband tend to generate lots of buzz and demand. This book that was originally intended to be a gift of love to her friends soon lead to being published into a commercially available book entitled, “See Hear Yoko.”

    It has been five years since I last interviewed Mr. Gruen (here).With the flurry of activity surrounding the release of Yoko’s book, I wasn’t sure that he would have time to sit for a phone interview with me. After graciously sending me a copy of the book to review (here), he generously made time out of his very busy schedule to talk with me about the book and what was on his plate in the near future.

    Bob had this to say about the background and story behind the book.

    “It was a very personal project. I’ve been friends and worked with Yoko for over forty years. She was turning eighty years old, and what do you get the woman who has everything? Jody has been interviewing Yoko for her official EPKs (Electronic Press Kits) for over twenty-five years. He came up with the idea to take quotes from her interviews and pairing them with my pictures from over the years to make a book we could give Yoko as a gift. These days, you can lay out a book in a program online, and they’ll print a nice hardcover book for you. 

    “As we were making it, people asked if we were going to publish it. We said, ‘No, this is a personal gift for Yoko.’ We kept all commercial ideas out of the project. All of the photos were picked out for Yoko - pleasant memories, things that we did together, things she would like to have in a photo diary. She liked it so much, when I saw her at an event a month after I gave it to her, she said we should publish it. She came over again a half hour later and said, ‘I mean it. We should publish this.’ A month later, her lawyer called and said, ‘By the way, Yoko wants me to remind you that you should publish the book’. 

    “It’s not always easy to find a publisher, but as things worked out, Jody knew somebody who knew somebody who knew JohnYoko1972Gruen72John & Yoko 1972 by Bob GruenJohnny Depp. He has his own publishing imprint called Infinitum Nihil. He’s done a couple books- a Hunter S. Thompson book and an unpublished Woody Guthrie book. He liked our book very much, so he brought it to HarperCollins. It just came out now since it takes awhile to go through the publishing process. The finished book is even nicer than the online version, which is kind of basic. 

    “We didn’t really change the book at all. It’s pretty much what we gave Yoko. We changed the captions a little. There was nothing in the book that was a surprise for Yoko or me. They were all pictures we’d seen over the years, so I didn’t have to put very detailed captions for Yoko. For the public, we put the place, date, what was going on, who is in the picture, and so on. Jody and I both added a thank you note that Yoko sent as an introduction. People seem to like it a lot.

    “There are a little over 200 pictures in the book. I first started working with John and Yoko in 1971. After John passed away in 1980, I continued working with Yoko for another thirty years. A lot of people aren’t aware of what Yoko’s been doing for those thirty years, but she’s been doing a lot. She’s been traveling around the world. She does art exhibits. She’s been raising Sean. The first quarter of the book or so is a lot of John and Yoko pictures, and then you see Sean as a baby with John and Yoko. Throughout the book, Sean grows up. 

    “After John passes, there’s a period of mourning. You can see Yoko and Sean getting closer. He was five at the time- a very exuberant kid. By the end of the book, I think he’s older than John was at the beginning of the book. It really covers a long period of time. There are a lot of quotes in the book from Yoko’s interviews that are related to what’s going on in the pictures or related to her life at the time we took the pictures. It’s really a nice project, and I’m glad we can get it out to the public. 

    “There were a lot of pictures in there that Yoko and I knew about, but they were never publicly published- Yoko at her art shows, pictures of her traveling, pictures at home with Sean. There may have been something here or there published in an article, but by and large, these have not been published. They were done for Yoko at the time. So it’s nice to sum it up, put it in a book, and make it public now.

    “John Lennon said that Yoko Ono is the most famous unknown artist in the world. Everybody knows who she is, but nobody knows what she does. I hope this book gives a little bit of insight into what she does. There are all kinds of charity events. There’s Strawberry Fields in Central Park. There’s an event where she was speaking at the United Nations General Assembly when they performed ‘Imagine’ with about 135 countries around the world, a lot of her art shows, introducing the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. So it gives a lot of insight into what she’s been doing the last forty years.”

    I mentioned to Bob that I saw a picture of Yoko a few months ago, and that she looks better at 82 than I do at 55. 

    JohnYokoCentralPark1973Gruen72John & Yoko CentralPark 1973 by Bob Gruen“She pretty well. Since I’ve known her, she has a pretty healthy diet. She taught us about the macrobiotic diet early on. I don’t know if she strictly follows that, but she’s a very healthy eater. She gets good exercise. She’s just a healthy person. She’s more active, alert , and aware than a lot of people who are thirty years younger than her. She’s pretty amazing.”

    I was curious if there were there any surprise emotions that he or Yoko encountered while working on this project.

    “There were a lot of very fond memories. There was nothing really I forgot, but coming across them, it was really familiar… a lot of happy moments. My first trip to Japan in 1974 was with Yoko, and that’s covered in the book. There’s a beautiful picture- I think it’s on the back cover- of her coming off the plane. There’s a mass of photographers waiting for her, and she just descends like an angel to them. Remembering all these moments, it was fun. I’ve always had a lot of fun with Yoko.“

    Then, being the true friend to Yoko that he is, Gruen shared this story:

    “Somebody asked me the other day for something people don’t know about Yoko. I think it’s her sense of humor. Yoko’s got a great sense of humor, and it’s always fun to be with her. You couldn’t live with John Lennon without having a sense of humor. In her photos and in public, she always seems serious. She works with a lot of serious causes. A lot of her work is peace. A lot of it is to help feed children, to help hospitals, and to make the world a better place. Those are very serious things, so a lot of her photos look pretty serious. But, in person, she’s got a great sense of humor. She’s really fun to hang out with, so while going through the pictures, there were just a lot of happy memories.”

    I shared that, to me, the picture she took of John’s glasses that he wore at the time of his death was one of the most moving photos I have ever seen. But the behind-the-scenes photo in the book of the staging of that photo that was also staggering in a symbolic way. I asked if she has indicated what is the most emotional photo for her from this collection?

    “Well, that’s a pretty strong one. As are the pictures of the memorial – I think there was one shot outside of The Dakota or something with the crowd gathered. The day we took the picture of the glasses was a very difficult, very emotional day. Yoko is not afraid of strong emotions, so I was able to include that. It was a memory of something she did that was part of her life. She never shied away from any difficult times. Doing that picture was very difficult. We were both crying while we were doing it. When she took the glasses out, we both just started crying. It was such a real expression of what happened. To me, it’s horrifying when you see that picture. You see the blood on the glasses.

    “At the time, over the winter, a number of people said, ‘How is Yoko? She must feel terrible. I can’t imagine.’ When you see that picture, you’re so horrified. You actually feel some of what she feels. Just a little bit. You don’t have to ask the question anymore. You kind of know how she feels. 

    “That’s the thing about Yoko’s art. It doesn’t just make you think about things. It makes you feel things. She’s very good at Yoko Ono Performing 1986 by Bob GruenYoko Ono Performing 1986 by Bob Gruenthat. A lot of people don’t like being in touch with their feelings, particularly a strong, painful feeling like that. Yet she’s open to it, and she lives with that as we all should. 

    “A lot of people don’t like to live with their feelings. When they see her art and react strongly to it, they get very angry. They don’t like reacting strongly to things like that. Rather than seeing that Yoko is a really great artist that made them feel something deeply, they say, ‘She’s terrible. She made me feel bad. I don’t like her.’ 

    ‘As I said before, Yoko is the most famous unknown artist in the world. Everybody knows who she is, but nobody knows what she does. I’ve never met anybody who has met Yoko who didn’t like her and wasn’t amazed and in awe of her. I have met a lot of people who haven’t met her, only heard about her, who think they don’t like her. That’s really kinda funny.

    “When she first came out, and The Beatles were breaking up, they blamed that on her. There was also a lot of racism in England, and they just couldn’t understand why John was with this weird, crazy little artist instead of a beautiful blonde bombshell. When you meet Yoko, you’ll understand why. People ask me what kind of woman Yoko is, and I always say she’s the kind of woman that John Lennon could marry.”

    “At one point, John was just getting too drunk, and Yoko couldn’t live with a complete drunk anymore. She sent him off to California, and during that time, he got so loaded. When they were together in the beginning, people would say, ‘Oh, what’s he doing with that horrible woman?’ After what they call the ‘lost weekend’ that lasted a year and a half, everyone was so happy and saying, ‘Thank God he’s back with Yoko! Isn’t that wonderful?’ 

    “I noticed that these same people that used to say that they wished those two would break up were so happy when they were back together. It was just a symbol of togetherness, and he was obviously so much better off when he was back with her. He stopped drinking and carrying on. He cleaned up his life, Sean was born, and he stayed home to take care of Sean. It changed his life enormously.

    And what does Yoko hope people take away from this book?

    “She was willing to open up and share a lot of her private life- what her life is really like. There are a lot of private times with Sean, and there are times she’s working and appearing in different art openings. Some of it is very playful, and yet very thought- provoking. There’s a picture of Sean and Yoko sitting at a chess set. It’s one of her pieces called ‘Play By Trust’. It’s a chess game where all the pieces and all the squares are white, and she said that way you have to remember who’s on your side and who’s not. It’s much more like real life. It’s very difficult to play, and so is life. I think that’s the point she is making. I think it really shows a lot of who she is.

    Yoko & Sean Playing Chess 1991 by Bob GruenYoko & Sean Playing Chess 1991 by Bob Gruen“Had I planned to make a book for the public, I probably would have included a lot more information. There are a lot of places we went and things we did that aren’t in the book, because it was just a random collection of good times for her. It wasn’t really thought out as an explanation of who Yoko is or what she does. In many ways, it was somewhat random. I have so many good pictures. It wasn’t difficult to edit because there was no pressure on me. It was just making a nice collection for Yoko, so I didn’t really have to tell a story as I would have had I been planning on making it for the public. It does tell a story, because there were so many pictures, so many places, so many different things that we did.

    “At the beginning, there’s a lot of John and Yoko where you can see that they’re a team. But when he’s gone, you can see she’s in a period of mourning. She comes out of it with the help of Sean. You can see what an exuberant kid he is. There are a couple great pictures of him. Some of my favorite pictures in the book are actually the two pictures of Sean playing. You can see how that relationship starts developing. She kinda comes back to life, and she starts getting more active. Now days, she’s more busy than she’s ever been. At 82, she has not slowed down. If anything, she’s speeding up. She’s constantly traveling around the world, constantly appearing at places. She has new exhibits, retrospective exhibits of her John and Yoko period, and countless charities that she works for.”

    Gruen said this about the audience’s reception of the book:

    “We’ve been receiving a lot of compliments saying it’s beautiful. It’s insightful and really interesting to see these things that were so much behind-the-scenes, to see a collection of so many different things that people didn’t know Yoko was doing. Yoko likes it very much. At her birthday party this February, she had a small party of about thirty people. As a takeaway gift, she gave everybody a copy of the book. At a Beatles fan event last weekend, she gave them six copies of the book to auction for charities. She’s supporting it. We’re doing a book signing together next month, actually, at the Marc Jacobs bookstore on Bleecker Street in New York. She’s not doing any interviews, because she’s got her own projects going. 

    In support of his dear friends projects, Bob says of them, “In May, she’s got a big retrospective of her work opening at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York. It’s a very big deal that they’ve finally come around and accepted her.  Luckily, she’s alive to appreciate it.  A lot of artists don’t get that until long after they’re gone. Like I said, she’s a powerhouse- nonstop coming up with new ideas, old ideas, and a lot of charities.”

    As he alluded to earlier, Bob said that Yoko is viewed by some as a controversial figure. I asked him if he thought this book will help clear up misunderstandings about her and soften her critics view of her.

    “I hope so. A lot of the critics don’t know her, and a lot either haven’t even seen her art or are afraid of it. A friend of mine was someone who really didn’t like Yoko, because she had ‘broken up The Beatles’. That was her opinion. As I got friendlier and friendlier with Yoko, my friend just couldn’t understand it. 

    “Then Yoko had a retrospective of her art at the Japan Center here in New York. My friend went and came out saying, ‘I didn’t realize Yoko had such a sense of humor or how deep and interesting she was’. It completely changed her mind when she actually saw what Yoko did. 

    “All of the Beatles have said that Yoko had nothing to do with their breaking up. It was just more convenient to blame her instead of blaming The Beatles themselves. I was with John Lennon once in Central Park, and some guy yelled out, ‘Hey, John, when are you going to get The Beatles back together?’ He yelled back, ‘When are you going to go back to high school?’ There is a time and place for everything, and they had their time and place. 

    To help shed a John and Yoko’s relationship in a little bit different light and from a different perspective, Bob said, “Some people say that meeting John Lennon was one of the worst things that happened to Yoko, because she was a rising star in the avant garde art world which is very respected by many people and unknown to most people. Yoko doesn’t sing like Frank Sinatra, but Ornette Coleman doesn’t play the trumpet like Herb Alpert. Ornette Coleman is friends with Yoko, and they actually did some shows together. 

    “When John met her, Yoko had her own one person exhibition. For a female artist, even now, to have a one person show is Yoko Ono 1982 by Bob GruenYoko Ono 1982 by Bob Gruenunusual. In the sixties, it was unheard of. Yet Yoko had her own exhibit, and that’s where John met her. She was doing fine on her own. In fact, she was doing very well. She was excelling- becoming quite well-known, understood, and appreciated in the avant garde world. Then she met John, and she all of the sudden was thrust onto this world stage in front of people who like pop music which had nothing to do with her life. They all started criticizing her without even knowing what she did.

    “From my point of view, I’ve actually always liked Yoko and what John and Yoko did. I’m one of the few people, I think, who heard about Yoko before I heard about The Beatles. I remember, the summer before The Beatles came here, I was reading a story in a magazine about a Japanese woman who had a loft on Canal Street. You could pay five dollars to go into the loft, and it was full of large bags. You could actually get inside one of these large bags with somebody and, to use a hippie expression, do your thing which basically meant anything you wanted to do. Or you could go in the loft, not get in the bag, and wonder what the people in the bags were doing. I thought that was about the weirdest thing I had ever heard of called art. It struck me as really funny and weird, and I wished I was old enough to go to the city and go the exhibit. Actually, I think I was old enough, but I think by the time I was reading about it, it had already happened. 

    “A few years later, there was this weird little Japanese woman with John Lennon, and they were sitting inside these bags. I thought, ‘Well, there can’t be two people like that’. The things they started to do- first, it was appearing in bags and saying who they are doesn’t matter. What they are saying matters, because all they were saying is they wanted peace on earth and an end to war. Then they sent an acorn to the leaders of every country in the world, and they asked them to plant the acorns so the world could grow together in peace. 

    “When they were trying to plan their honeymoon, and the more they tried to think of a secret place, the more they realized the press would hound them no matter where they went. The more secret they are, the more the press would try to find them. Yoko suggested they turn it around, and they invited everybody in the world to come in and see them on their honeymoon in their marital bed, which was what the press wanted most. So they said, ‘Come on in and look’, and they put the word ‘peace’ behind them knowing that everyone who took a picture was going to print it on the front page of the newspaper. That way every newspaper in the world would say the word ‘peace’. How can you hate somebody who does that?”

    I shared with Bob that I had met Ringo recently and that it was striking to me the peaceful and loving way he treated the band and how they treated each other and fans. 

    “Peace and working for peace is a part of everyday life, all day every day. There were bodyguards/tour managers named Patty and JC Callaghan. JC, for many years, was the head of security for the Rolling Stones and The Who. When you’re head of security for a band like the Rolling Stones and The Who, you have to deal with a lot of very macho characters, so the Callaghans were pretty tough brothers. Yoko hired them to be the tour managers for when we went to Europe around ’84 or ’85. JC would ordinarily just take kids and toss them out the door when they tried to come in the wrong way or something. In this case, he would say, ‘Peace and love, please stay outside’. It even affected the way they were dealing with these people trying to sneak in. When I saw JC saying ‘peace and love’… that was kinda unusual.”

    Are there any plans for a follow up to this book?

    “There aren’t any plans, no. But now that I’m getting familiar with the book and looking at it as more than just a gift for Yoko, I realize there is a much bigger story I could have told. In the future, I might be doing more. I’ve got a lot more books in me, that’s for sure.”

    With regards to what he’s working on now, Gruen shared, “I have several projects. I have an exhibit coming up in Helsinki at the end of May. I have an exhibit that will be in Liverpool at the end of August. I have two books being re-issued this year. Ten years ago, I put out a book called ‘John Lennon: The New York Years,’ which is being updated and revised with some new pages and new cover. That will be reprinted for John’s 75th birthday in the fall. 

    “About fifteen years ago, I made a book with all my pictures of The Clash. It’s been out of print for a number of years, and that’s being reissued by Music Sales Omnibus

    in London. It’s an edition of 1250, and it’s got a box flip case with a limited edition signed print in each book. That’s coming out in about a month when I finish signing all the prints. Those are the major projects right now. I’m also working on a proposal for a biography.”

    Bob then graciously answered a couple of questions offered by Boomerocity readers. The first asked if he had ever been put in an embarrassing situation while on a shoot. 

    “Not offhand. I’m not easily embarrassed, and I kinda take things as they come.”

    The second question wondered if he had ever fallen or injured yourself while shooting photographs.

    “I do remember one time I got hurt. It still affects me a little bit. I was onstage with the New York Dolls in Japan, and I went to jump off the side of the stage. There was

    a 5’ plastic pillow in front of the stage, and there was gravel around it. I was going to jump on that and step off, but my foot got caught. Instead of stepping off, I fell right on my knee on the gravel. But I haven’t been seriously hurt, luckily. God knows why not, because I’ve certainly been in a lot of horrific situations and total chaos in front of stages. I’ve seen other people close to me get hurt falling off chairs or getting banged around in the crowd. I haven’t broken anything, and I hope I don’t. 

    “I’m still in some of those chaotic situations on occasion. I don’t photograph like I used to. I don’t go to every show that I can, and I don’t photograph four shows a night. The media has changed so much that everybody is taking their own pictures. I used to take pictures at the show then go home and develop the film. You make some prints, and a couple days later you send them to magazines. A week or a month later, they would print them, and it would be news. Now everyone takes cell phone pictures and uploads them so quickly that, before the first song is over, there are pictures around the world. I don’t really try to compete with that. Luckily, I have enough old pictures that can’t be reproduced that I make a living on those.”

    As we wound up our chat, Mr. Gruen updated me on the coming changes to his website,

    " allowtransparency="no" width="120" height="240">“I launched the website in 2000, and by 2001, people were telling me I needed to revise and update it. We have finally revised and updated it, and in a couple weeks, we’re going to launch the new website. It’s going to have a search feature which was glaringly missing all these years. I have two major sections of the website- one relates to all the files from the past, and the other is what I call 'The Photo of the Day,' which is all the current work I still do. I still do take pictures. I go out pretty regularly. I don’t do it with the intensity I used to, but I still go our four or five nights a week to take pictures. I post them in 'Photo of the Day' which has turned out to be photo of the season since I only update it every three or four months. All those photos will be searchable now. It’s not online yet, but we’ve had what is hopefully our last meeting with our webmaster and should have the final glitches touched up in a week or two.”

    Glitches or not, Bob Gruen’s work is still exciting and captivating. He’s one of the few photographers that Boomerocity is intrigued by and anxiously looks forward to seeing what’s new from. 

    John would be as proud as Yoko is.

    Note: Please do keep up with Bob Gruen’s work and activities at where you can also purchase his work. You can also order and/or download “See Hear Yoko,” by clicking on the widget above right.

    You can also read our first interview with Bob on Boomerocity (here) or on Yoko's website, (here).

  • Dave Fields

    Posted October, 2012

    davefieldsbybobgruen2Photo by the Legendary Bob GruenLast month I had the privilege of reviewing a CD of an artist who I had only very recently became aware of. The CD was entitled Detonation and the artist is a great guitarist by the name of Dave Fields.

    The album is great, the sounds addicting and the whole approach is fresh and new.  I knew that, after listening to the CD for a bazillion times, I wanted to interview the up and coming guitar slinger and so it was.  Mr. Fields called me from his Manhattan apartment to discuss Detonation, his career and, of course, guitars.

    As we started off our chat, I asked Dave what the reception has been so far to Detonation.

    “It’s been amazing. People have really loved the CD and I’m pleased with the way it’s been going. You know, it’s already number eight on the RMR Top Fifty Blues charts after ten days. I just couldn’t be more pleased. It’s number twenty on the House of Blues charts. It’s been wonderful. Everybody keeps telling me that this is a great next CD for me to do. It’s my third one. Exactly what I wanted to have happen is people embrace it that way.”

    As Fields mentioned, Detonation is his third album, following 2008’s All Wound Up and Time’s A Wastin (2007).    I asked him how this album was it different for him personally, technically, musically, and process-wise, than the other albums.

    “Well, you know, I’m a producer in my own right. I produced a CD that one ‘Best Blues CD’ in 2006 at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. I have a long track record of producing things. And on this CD we actually hired David Z – who is a Grammy winning producer – to do the CD because I wanted to try to capture something live in the studio. I wanted to capture the essence of Dave Fields live and it’s very hard for me to be playing and doing my thing and producing myself live. It’s very tough.

    “We put the whole band in the studio which is, basically - what the CD is – with minimum overdubs. We just kind of did the whole thing live. All the guitar solos and lead vocals are basically live.

    “So, what I had also done in the process was I rehearsed the band as best as I could. We picked the songs with David Z. He came a couple of weeks earlier to New York. We had it all ready to go, went into the studio, we played, got the best takes and, hopefully, people will hear the fire.

    “My first two CD’s were more ‘studio’ CDs. There were a couple of tunes that were live in the studio like this.  I crafted some of the songs – and being that I’m an engineer, too – I record in a certain way. David Z had a completely different approach to the way he did things. He’s more old-school about everything. It turned out beautiful. I’m still pinching myself from working with him! He’s a wonderful guy.”

    As I’ve said before in other interviews: Long ago I gave up on asking artists what their favorite song on their latest album so I wasn’t going to ask Dave any question of the sort.  However, what I did ask him was: if there was only one song off of Detonation that could be listened to as a sample before one were to decide whether to buy it, what song would he point them to?

    “Well, you know, that’s a very subjective question because it will change with how I’m feeling that day. If it’s somebody off the street and I have no idea who they are – hmmm, that’s a good question. I will tell you that all of the songs are about personal things that have happened to me – with the exception of one that I kind of crafted. Lately, though, I have been loving, You Will Remember Me, which is the last song. To me it’s the most powerful one on a personal level. They all have different meanings to different things, though.”

    As Dave was giving his answer, the thought popped into my head as to how raw those emotions can be when pouring your heart out into a song. I asked him if it’s difficult to open one’s heart up in a song for the world to see.

    “You know what? My favorite artists always did that. They always poured their souls into their music. That, to me, is what made them so powerful. That was the connection. They shared something – some human emotion that they went through that was very powerful – that we all felt. I’m always driven to do that.

    “That’s not to say that I don’t ‘craft’ songs. Doing Hard Time, for example, I kinda crafted. I mean, I don’t aspire to be in jail! Ha! Ha!  It’s a funny song. It’s also a part of me that likes to have fun and silly with my songs. Like Bad Hair Day – a silly song. On my last CD I have a song called Big Fat Ludus. It’s a song about nothing. It’s about silliness. I think that’s important, too. There are many different facets to who I am as a person and I don’t mind barring my soul. I have a song called Rabbi Blues. I grew up as a Jewish boy in New York so I had to do a little dig at my heritage – but in a fun way! It goes both ways.

    “Same Old Me is another personal song. It’s about my dad. I’m definitely barring my soul on that one. I think it’s more powerful. I want to connect with people on that level, if that makes any sense.”

    As for touring in support of the album, Fields said, “Right now, because the CD just came out, we’re working on doing an east coast tour. We’ve got a bunch of places lined up that are in the works right now that are coming down for the east coast. I’m also working on a Midwest tour which will probably be Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois at this point. We’re still working it all out. Oh, and I’m going to Norway in two weeks! I’ll be there from the 16th through the 30th of October and it will be my fifth time going back there. That’s really exciting.  The crowds are there amazing!  Norway is such a beautiful country. Everybody speaks English, which is wonderful for me. They love American music. They grew up listening to American music. When they actually get to hear a real American playing American music, it’s a big thing for them. I’ve got a great following there and it’s been a blessing to be able to connect with them. I love my Norwegian friends! I feel blessed. What can I say?”

    While listening to Detonation, it was pretty easy for me to pick out some of Dave’s musical influences in his music.  However, I asked him to share with who those musical influences were and are.

    “There are so many. My gosh! As a kid, the first thing I loved was ‘50’s rock and roll. I loved Chuck Berry. I loved Fats Domino. I loved Jerry Lee Lewis. I loved Elvis Presley. My dad is a noted composer/arranger/producer here in Manhattan and he’s a virtuoso piano player. He started playing this kind of New Orleans thing on piano once. It was a boogie-woogie kind of New Orleans thing. When I heard that I went wild. It was like, ‘Oh, my god! I love this!’ From there it grew into blues.

    “You know, early rock and roll is blues as far as I’m concerned. As I listened to more and more and more of it, I asked my dad, ‘Who’s the best guitar player in the world?’ ‘Well, some people say Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix.’ I started listening to them and I was, like, wow!  I love the British rock guys. You can really hear Jimi Hendrix a lot on the CD. I was exposed to so many different kinds of music. Growing up in New York City, it’s a melting pot of music, as well, besides cultures. I listened to everybody from Roy Clark to George Benson to Alan Hallsworth to so many people – James Taylor to funk guys. I just tried to take it all in.

    “I also studied piano. Piano was my first instrument. There are a lot of musical influences that go with my guitar playing that had nothing to do with guitar. They’re just musical influences. I used to listen to John Coltrane, the famous sax player. I used to listen to Charlie Parker. Lee Allen, one of my favorite horn players.

    “Lately, I’ve been on this Chopin kick, believe it or not. Yeah! I just love Frederic Chopin! What can I say? My musical listening is so diverse. The thing is for me – the key component on everything I listen to, to me, I just like it to be real. I don’t like people lying to me or trying to take me out with their music – which happens with a lot of pop music or a lot of artists who are trying to sound like somebody else. We all have our influences but – it’s just about the sincerity. That’s the thing I judge it by.”

    Dave Fields has jammed with some pretty impressive people. I asked the guitar virtuoso who he hasn’t worked or played with that are on his dream list of people to work or play with.

    “Growing up in New York City and listening to a lot of jazz – it was something I was exposed to. I always wanted to play with Randy Brecker. He passed away a couple of years ago. I always wanted to play with Miles Davis. He’s passed away.

    “People who are alive now who I would like to collaborate with – gosh, there are so many! Gosh!  Eric Clapton. There are tons of blues rock people who are friends who I would still like to continue collaborate with. I got to collaborate with Joe Lewis Walker on my CD. I did that duet with him. That was amazing.”

    The first guitar a guitarist owns is never forgotten.  I asked Dave what his first guitar was and if he still owns it.

    “Great question! The first guitar I ever owned was a cheap K-Mart guitar. I don’t even remember the name of it. It self-destructed after a week. Literally, it did! After that, I used to borrow my friends guitars. In fact, I was playing piano at the time, still. I’d be playing piano in the band and dream about playing guitar. I’d like, ‘Hey, let me borrow your guitar for a second’ and I’d noodle around on it. The first guitar after that was a Sekova = a Korean guitar. It was a Les Paul copy. I had no money. I was the son of a single musician parent. I begged my dad to buy me a guitar. Finally, a year later he took me to a music store and I bought a white Les Paul – which I still have – and Les Paul wound up signing it. So my first real guitar was a white Les Paul. I don’t remember the year of it off the top of my head.”

    And how did Fields wind up playing a Fender?

    “Well, I’ll tell you, first of all, most Les Paul’s are too heavy for me. I just can’t deal with how heavy they are. As I explored other guitars there were things I liked about the Strats. What I’ve come to now is I’ve decided that I don’t even want to buy a guitar off the shelf.  I’ve just been playing custom guitars because I know exactly what I want in guitars.

    “Basically, with the guitar I’m playing now – which is on the cover of Detonation – is a Fender style guitar. However, it’s kind of a hybrid between a Gibson and a Strat – a Fender. For example, the body is mahogany and maple, just like a Les Paul – like a maple top Les Paul. And even though the neck is solid maple like a Strat, it feels like a Gibson because it has a flat radius which means there’s no curve to the fret board. It’s completely flat which, is something that Fender doesn’t do. It’s something that I always liked. That’s what I loved about Gibson and it’s a really thin neck – like an old Stratocaster. So it’s really a hybrid of both things.

    “I always tinker with my guitars and my amps. It took me all this time to finally realize this is exactly how I always want my guitars all be. Warmuth made the body, which is a custom shop out of Oregon and this company called ‘Musikraft’ in New Jersey built the neck for me. They’re building me another one, I liked it that much. I’ve got to have two of everything in case something breaks, unfortunately.”

    When I asked Fields how many guitars he owned, I was a little surprised by the answer he gave me.

    “Let me clarify this by saying I play electric guitar, acoustic guitar, a little bit of classical guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, ukulele, banjo, lap steel, and bass as well as upright bass. So, I have a lot of stringed instruments and living in an apartment in New York City, I’ve got a have storage space filled with them!  But I have close to thirty if not more. But, truthfully, I’m really considering selling all my guitars I don’t play anymore because I really just want to play my custom guitars because I know what I want and the other ones I can’t play anymore. They just don’t feel right to me.”

    Every serious guitarist has an idea of what they consider the holy grail of guitars to be. Dave Fields is no different.

    “Yeah, there is a holy grail of guitars I’d like to own. It would be one I would like to build to my specifications. It would be a one piece maple neck Strat – with super jumbo frets, flat radius, and the body would be chambered mahogany - which means that they put holes in it so that it’s lighter – with quilted maple and would want it painted either a blue jean dye or if they could do a gold dye with gold glitter in it. I would deck it out with all the pick-ups I would want in it. It would only run me $1,500 – that’s it!”

    As for what’s on the docket for the next year and planned for the next five years, Dave shared, “As I said before, I’m going to Norway in two weeks.  Between now and then I’ve got a bunch of dates here in the New York City area that I’m playing – like in New Jersey, here in the city and Westchester. Next year we’re doing a tour through the east coast. I’m scheduled to do a couple of festivals next year.

    “My five year plan is to connect with so many people. One thing that I love about being a musician is the opportunity to meet so many amazing people who love music. I get to see them, help them put a smile on their face and make them feel better. It’s really rewarding for me to entertain people. There’s nothing more exciting and more fun for me than to strap on my guitar, plug into the amp and just play for people. I get so worked up and fired up!”

    Wrapping up our chat, I asked Mr. Fields to think ahead to when he’s stepped off the stage for the final time and has gone to that great gig in the sky. What does he hope that his legacy will be and how does he want to be remembered?

    “I would like to be remembered as somebody who brought joy to this world and made people feel good – feel happy; brought happiness to people. I hope that my music touched and made their life better or made them not feel alone in this world.”

  • Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles






    Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles  

    Tennessee Theatre – Knoxville, Tennessee

    March 01, 2016


    Let me just say from the git-go that I went to Tuesday nights performance by Rain expecting some sort of lame treatment of Beatles tunes. Of course, I thought that not


    Photo by Richard Lovrich

    ever having heard them or anyone’s take on the tribute band.

    Boy, was I ever wrong!

    As their press packet says, “RAIN - A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES is a live multi-media spectacular that takes you on a musical journey through the life and times of the world’s most celebrated band.”

    I’ll add that RAIN just might be the next best thing to seeing the Beatles that one will ever experience. These guys are just downright amazing!

    This amazing tribute band covers the Fab Four’s work and performances from their touchdown in the U.S. through their last work together. Whether as suited, clean cut kids, Sgt. Pepperians, or looking “hippyish,” they did so to audio and visual perfection. 

    The current configuration of RAIN’s homage to the Beatles apparently adds more hits than they did in the past. Whether cranking out “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Let It Be,” “Come Together,” “Hey Jude,” or many of the other iconic hits, the sold out crowd at Knoxville’s historic Tennessee Theatre was on their feet and singing along – even dancing. 

    If you’re a baby boomer, a Beatles fan or just love a great performance, I strongly encourage you to catch RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES. If you do, I can just about guarantee that you’ll want to see them again. I know I do.

    Follow RAIN at:


  • See Hear Yoko

    seehearyokocover001See Hear Yoko
    Bob Gruen and Jody Denberg
    Publisher: Harper Collins/ Infinitum Nihil
    Review Date: April 19, 2015

    Few names of couples come more easily to mind or rolls off the tongue so fluidly as John and Yoko. Iconic. Popular. Yes, even controversial. People either loved them or hated her and usually only because of what they thought they knew about Yoko and the dynamics of the relationship with John or the Beatles.

    This writer has this opinion: It’s none of our business. John obviously loved Yoko dearly and passionately and it appears that it was mutual between them. The remaining Beatles have come out in defense of Yoko and, aside from Julian and Sean, they’re the only other opinions that matter and those aren’t even any of our business.

    But I digress.

    This is a review about the new book by Bob Guren and Jody Denberg entitled, “See Hear Yoko. ” Originally compiled as a personal gift to Yoko for her 80th birthday two years ago, the tome is now commercially available to fans and rock historians. With a little over 200 Gruen snapped photos that are accompanied by insight and input from Yoko interviewer, Jody Denberg (rock radio’s Voice of Austin), “See Hear Yoko” is a touching look into her life from the time that Gruen first started snapping images of her and John in 1971 until closer to her 80th birthday.

    Bob shares tremendous insight into the book and photos in the Boomerocity interview with him (here). But we’ll just say that the excellent choices of photos and commentary in this book will endear fans of John and Yoko that much more closer to her and, I think, will win over many of her critics and detractors.

    As stated in the interview with Gruen, the most jarring, startling, heart wrenching photo of the book is the behind the scenes photo of the staging of Yoko’s photograph of John’s glasses worn by him the night of his tragic death and stained with his blood. Controversial and sobering, it was Yoko’s way of sharing her pained heart with the world. The behind the scenes photo shows the loss and loneliness in the room that they shared and symbolizes (to me, anyway), the happy past and the painful presesent.

    Photos from walks in Central Park back in the day to her work for many charities, this book gives us new glimpses via heretofore unseen (by us, anyway) photos into Yoko’s life with John as well as since his passing.

    Buy the book. It’s interesting, nostalgic, informative and historic.