Photographer Baron Wolman

Photographer Baron Wolman

Born June 2, 1937

Baron Wolman

Being in the right place at the right time is luck. Being talented and in the right place at the right time is fortune.

Baron Wolman is the very talented photographer whose pictures help us know American life far better than had he not taken them.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Rolling Stone magazine

After getting a taste of photography while in the Army, Wolman lived in (the right place) San Francisco. Wolman was no Boomer (he was born on June 25, 1937), but Jann Wenner was when the two met in April 1967.

The 21-year-old Wenner wanted Wolman to be the photographer for a rock music magazine Wenner had in mind. Wolman said he’d work for free if he could keep ownership of his pictures. A wise quid pro quo.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Cover after cover

Rolling Stone magazine would not have been the same without Wolman’s pictures.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Baron was Rolling Stone’s photographer from 1967 to 1970, a  short time, but perhaps no better stretch to be a part of the scene Rolling Stone wanted to cover. He says that he “shot his best stuff in ’68 and ’69…those were the halcyon days.”

Photographer Baron Wolman

His photos graced cover after cover of the magazine revealing the famous, the emerging, and behind the scene.

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

He photographed, not surprisingly, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and those photos are perhaps the best of any taken there. While shooting Santana that hot Saturday afternoon, Bill Graham took Wolman’s camera to shoot a picture of Baron. No selfies then.

Photographer Baron Wolman

His street-sign photo in the wooded Bindy Bazaar, the festivals “merch” area, now graces the entrance to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts–albeit slightly photo-shopped.

Photographer Baron Wolman

True fashion starts on the street

Photographer Baron Wolman

After Rolling Stone, Baron Wolman changed direction slightly and started to concentrate on fashion with his Rags magazine. As many knew, fashion trends often begin outside of actual fashion studios when someone decides that “others may think this combination odd, but it looks good” and a year later models are walking the runways with it.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Embedded photographer

He followed the Oakland Raiders in 1974 and produced Oakland Raiders: The Good Guys.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Learning to fly

Wolman learned to fly and took pictures of California from his plane ( California From the Air: The Golden Coast (1981)) or pictures of Israel (The Holy Land: Israel From the Air (1987))

Santa Fe today

Wolman now lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico and continues to photograph and be a beacon of light both toward the future and from the past. He regularly posts on his musings and observations on his Facebook page.

He is also on Instagram.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Who is this guy?

Early Bill

Bill Hanley was born in Medford, MA on March 4, 1937.  

In 1937 radio still ruled the airwaves. Like some other young people of his time, listening to the radio evolved into looking inside and discovering the world of electronics.

During the early 60s, a childhood friend of mine showed me how easily we could hook up an extra speaker or two to my simple record player to enhance the sound. Such “simple” reconstruction can lead to the love of sound.

Such was the case with Bill Hanley and his brother Terry.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Outdoor sound

Keep in mind that for most outdoor sound at this time, the phrase was PA, as in “public address.” That is, the group or individual that needed outdoor sound concentrated on sending the speaker’s voice out into the audience.

The Hanley brothers loved good sound and their love coincided with a time of increased outdoor music events and musicians needed more than simply sending the singer’s voice, musicians needed their instruments to be heard as well.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Hanley Sound

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

In 1957 Bill Hanley began a relationship with the Newport Jazz Festival and its organizer, George Wein.  Remembering that difference between what a PA can do versus what a good “sound system” can do, think about how important quality sound production would be to jazz musicians.

Shortly after that Bill and Terry Hanley began Hanley Sound Inc, at 430 Salem St. in Medford, MA.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Good timing

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

In 1964 Baby Boomers experienced Beatlemania and the British Invasion. Like all stories, being in the right place or knowing to be in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.

In 1966 Hanley Sound was working with The Ramains, a Boston band (“the greatest band you never heard of”) and while the Remains were not a household name outside of Boston, they were good enough to land quite a gig: the 1966 Beatle tour.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Epstein meets Hanley 

On that tour Brian Epstein recognized the quality that Hanley Sound could produce and used them.  Next came the Beach Boys. And by the end of the 60s, Hanley sound was doing outdoor concert after outdoor concert.

The most famous one was the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Last Seat In the House

Bill Hanley continued his golden touch on sound. One person in particular who has tried to get the recognition for Bill Hanley that he so deserves is a John Kane.  John has been working on a film about Hanley called “Last Seat In the House.” 

The title reflects the goal that Hanley Sound always aimed at: that the people in the last row could hear the music as well as anyone seated anywhere else.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire
Here are some words from John Kane:

I am a post grad doctoral student and for the past three years I have been researching the life/career of pioneer sound engineer Bill Hanley. Since the beginning of this research, until now my discoveries have been overwhelming.

Collectively, sound reinforcement is an area of technology that is often overlooked. It is my hope that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acknowledges, considers, and/or inducts Bill Hanley and his pioneering sound company into their institution. If the RRHF leadership were to peel away the layers of popular music as we know it today, they would surely realize that the area of “sound” owes much to Hanley’s pioneering work. An acknowledgment like this would bring light and significance to an era innovation where quality sound in popular music mattered most…the 1960s and 1970s.

In my view (and others) Hanley was a primary force in bringing quality sound to the forefront of the evolving music and political arenas. When primitive public address technology was the “norm” for various events, the influence of Bill Hanley elevated the quality of sound via his innovative methods and application.

Lastly, if you choose to sign this petition would you kindly forward this email to your network of friends and colleagues? This will allow us to reach our rather ambitious goal.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

So…

Help Induct Bill Hanley of Hanley Sound into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Click here and please sign petition

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Remembering and appreciating him on his birthday
January 26, 1945 – October 27, 2001
Woodstock Ventures John Roberts
Clockwise from top left: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Michael Lang, and Artie Kornfeld

E pluribus unum

Each of the four Woodstock Ventures partners contributed to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and it would be silly to say any one of them meant more than any other, but I think it is fair to say that the idea, however great, would never have gotten off the ground if not for the financial backing, patience, and endurance of John Roberts.

It may be a stereotype, but the personalities of each Woodstock Venture partner was predictable. Lang and Kornfeld, the originators and instigators of the event, are best described as hippies and idealists. Lang in particular. 

Joel Rosenman and John Roberts were the business guys in business suits who business acumen helped navigate the venture through the choppy cultural waters of the late 1960s.

John Roberts, in particular.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts was a nephew in the Block Pharmaceutical family. Alexander Block had founded the company in 1907. In 1969 John Roberts was 24 and had recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and with friend Joel Rosenman delved into writing for TV. They wanted to pitch the idea of two young men with money looking to make a TV program. 

To get ideas, they placed a newspaper ad in the Wall Street Journal which read, that they were ”young men with unlimited capital.” Though they received thousands or responses, the TV idea died.

Instead, Roberts and Rosenman went into business with a recording studio in Manhattan, Mediasound. Since Lang and Kornfeld’s original idea was to build a recording studio in the town of Woodstock, NY, Fortune and fortuitousness brought the four together.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Woodstock Ventures

The four formed Woodstock Ventures and they would (“they” is a funny word to use here) finance the project with profits (another funny word in retrospect) from a festival with an inheritance John Roberts had just received from the Block fortune.

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair story is John’s and it is not John’s. The vision and thrust was Lang’s. John Robert’s patience, persistence, and, obviously, money made the idea a reality despite huge initial losses.

After the event, it was John’s family who strongly recommended that John buy out Lang and Kornfeld from Ventures and also to sell the movie and music rights to Warner Brothers to begin to recoup those huge losses.

It was not until a dozen years later that the still extant Woodstock Ventures made its money back. By that point, Lang had gotten back into the company and remains there, with Joel Rosenman, and the Roberts family to this day.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Legacy

John Roberts

John Roberts died from cancer on October 27, 2001.

Ben Sisario wrote in the New York TimesEven as a producer of Woodstock ’94, Mr. Roberts made it clear that his interests were in maintaining the peaceful legacy of Woodstock rather than in making money, said John Scher, another producer. ”John was a smart businessman,’‘ Mr. Scher said, ”but he had a lot of heart.

Thank you John

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

What's so funny about peace, love, art, and activism?

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