Another great Jim Marshall story

From Tony Zepezauer, posted here with his permission:

Back the early ’90s I decided I had to have a Jim Marshall of the Dead, and started saving my money for one. The boom in 60’s rock collectibles was still a couple of years off, and I don’t think he was even represented by a gallery at that time, so when I thought I had enough I just looked him up in the phone book and gave him a call, and he invited me over to pick one out.

When I arrived, he was on the phone so I was left to browse for a good 15 minutes in the Rock and Roll Museum that was his front hallway. There was a BIG color print of Jimi torching his guitar at Monterey; a Life magazine cover with the Rolling Stones that I’d never seen before; and lots more great stuff, some familiar, some un-, that I don’t remember now. Lots of jazz musicians I think.

Eventually he finished his call, apologized unnecessarily, and we sat down in the kitchen to get down to business:

“What’ll you have to drink?”

“Oh, thanks, I’m not really a drinking man.”

“WHATTA YA MEAN, not a drinking man?! SCOTCH or GIN?”

“Um scotch”

“OK then. I’m giving you the good stuff since I plan to separate you from your money.”

Then we started looking through proof sheets, until I ended up picking the one I’d been leaning towards from the beginning, a classic image that was first on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Then we sat and drank and talked for a while, and at some point I must have mentioned that someday I might like a photo of John Coltrane by him as well. He immediately led me into the living room and started flipping through a bin of already-printed photos, one more amazing than the next, occasionally stopping for a moment to show off one he was particularly proud of, such as a low-angle shot of a beaming B.B. King looking down at the camera. Finally he found the Trane picture he was looking for, and said he’d give me $50 off if I bought it with the Dead pic, so what could I do? (This isn’t it but it’s from the same
session.) These two are now, of course, among my most treasured possessions.

Interestingly, two things came up during our brief chat that I’ve since read in interviews and reminiscences: He loved his mother, and he HATED people parking in his driveway. (He lived just a couple of doors down from the busy intersection on Market where Cafe Flore is, surely a tempting spot for people parking illegally ‘just for a minute’.) He even told a story that combined the two: One night his mother called him thinking she was having a heart attack. He told her he’d be right there, hung up and called 911 and sent them to her house, then rushed outside only to find a car blocking his driveway. So (he told this part with considerable relish) he kicked in the driver’s side window, released the parking brake, pushed it out into the street and left it there. He met the paramedics at his mom’s place, where they determined she’d only had a panic attack, not a heart attack. When he got home, the car’s owners were there, none too happy, and the police too. He told the police the whole story, they radioed dispatch to confirm the 911 call, and then told the owners that they were out of luck.

Besides that story, he talked about his mom a lot. He was worried that she would need to move to a nursing home, and though she didn’t want to go, he had searched for and found one with a lot of Armenians so she would feel more at home.

He seemed to take a liking to me for some reason, though my shy, retiring self couldn’t have been more different from him, and insisted that when the Dead print was ready, we would go out to dinner to celebrate. That didn’t happen, something came up at the last minute, but he did personally deliver the finished print to my workplace. I didn’t find out until years later that he had a reputation for having a volatile temper. I’ll always remember him as a sweet guy, and the best photographer of musicians ever, bar none.


2 Responses to “Another great Jim Marshall story”

  1. Bob Sarles says:

    Jim Marshall was a dear friend. I am very upset to get the news of his passing. On one hand it’s a big shock, as Jim was a survivor, and I figured if he had lived this long, with the vices he enjoyed, he’d live forever. In fact, considering the man’s history, its amazing he lived as long as he did. Still, that doesn’t mitigate my shock and sadness at learning the news. I have many Marshall stories from our mulit-decade friendship. Stories of him chewing me out, stories of his infamous rants, stories of his showing up for my film screenings to show his love and support, stories of his unbounded generosity when it counted. I am a filmmaker who produces a lot of music related content. Jim’s images were often integral to the documentary films I’ve produced over the years. Because of that, I have scores of his amazing photographs in my collection Some legendary (Janis with the Southern Comfort), others incredibly rare. But, the one I treasure the most was a print he gave to me of me and my daughter Marley, then 4, taken in Jim’s kitchen in San Francisco in 1995. So long Jim. Glad to have known you. Thanks for everything.

  2. DP says:

    SJ Mercury News columnist Jim Harrington also shared some anecdotes and memories of his experiences with Jim Marshall:

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