I love rock ‘n roll. Put another dime in the jukebox, baby. (Or, as the case may be, download the classic song from iTunes for .99 cents.)
Most of my readers know me for fashion, style, cinema and the like, and maybe a handful of you know me as the daughter of Don Wilson, founder of the surf-guitar band The Ventures and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee.
It was that connection which led me to meet Lisa S. Johnson, a very talented shutterbug specializing in macrophotography of guitars. And not just any guitars… the ones used to play the songs we will never forget. Like the 1967 Fender Jazzmaster my dad played on so many Ventures records and on the road for over 40 years before it was sold at Julien’s auction last year. But not before Lisa photographed it for her upcoming coffee table art book, 108 Rock Star Guitars.
The guitar at auction. Photo (c) Lisa S. Johnson
L to R: My sister Jill, Dad, me, and my brother Tim
As I got to know Lisa better, I learned that while she is a talented photographer with a unique perspective on these instruments, she’s also a true rock music enthusiast. Her passion for the guitar is profound. She owns several (including an acoustic that belonged to her musician dad, when she was a girl), she plays a little (still learning!), and she keeps up on things by going to all the best guitar-driven rockers’ concerts (Just this year: The Rolling Stones, Yes, Jimi Hendrix Experience).
|Author and photographer Lisa S. Johnson|
showing off a mock up of her 108 Rock Star Guitars book
(due out in the fall of 2013)
I believe it is this innate enthusiasm and her true love of music that makes her photography so stunning. She’s like Helmut Newton fetishizing the female form, or Diane Arbus looking beyond the physical to the soul of her subjects. Anyone can point and shoot… it’s the artists’ perception we are truly experiencing when we look at these works.
At a special press event in Malibu to announce the launch of 108 Rock Star Guitars, Lisa presided over a truly eye-opening slide show preview, giving the inside stories – from memory – behind each guitar’s nicks, cuts, wear marks, color schemes, and named off the songs we know them for and how the ‘sound’ was actually achieved. Fascinating stuff. She also told us about her travels from the backstage hallways of some of the world’s most famous concert venues, to the artist’s private homes.
Photos include Les Paul’s personal ax (the legendary, iconic and highly influential guitarist wrote the introduction to 108 Rock Star Guitars shortly before he passed on), Jimmy Page’s red double-neck played on Stairway to Heaven, and six-stringed works of art belonging to Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, Slash, Jack White, Nancy Wilson, Ace Frehley, and Robby Krieger of The Doors, who was a guest of honor at the launch event. That’s a lot of guitars. 108 in total!
|Robby Krieger & Lisa S. Johnson|
|Extra special cake (with leopard pattern cake inside!) by Cakeheads|
|Cutting the cake with Wayne Kramer, Warren DeMartini, |
Robby Krieger, Lisa S. Johnson
Why 108? Lisa is a true devotee of yoga, and in the yogic tradition the prayer bead string, the mala, has 108 beads on it. Much like the Catholic rosary, the beads are used to count mantras. She feels a spiritual connection to her work, right down to the title of her book, is imperative – there are many more connections to the number 108, which are explained by Lisa in interviews elsewhere. (Even I had an almost otherworldly connection to “108” on the day I attended the event: my car’s mileage turned over to 108 miles soon as I pulled into the driveway.)
Cue the Twilight Zone theme. No wait. Make that, The Twilight Zone theme with some kickass guitar:
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108 Rock Star Guitars is now available for pre-order. Go to RockStarGuitars.com