The Band, Woodstock 1970 “Stagefright”
© Norman Seeff

The Band, Woodstock 1970 “Stagefright”

Photograph
By Norman Seeff
About the image
After seeing Norman's portfolio, The Band's art director Bob Cato persuaded Robbie Robertson to hire him to shoot the imagery to be used on the liner notes for their upcoming album release Stage Fright.

“This was my first commission, a little over a year after I had arrived in New York from South Africa and without any paid work. Things were pretty desperate and I was full of doubt about what I was doing, whether I could ever make it as an artist. Bob Cato, a brilliant artist, designer and photographer was the first person in the music business to take a look at my portfolio and he was able to convince Robbie Robertson to let me shoot images for the liner notes.

I borrow a car and a strobe, and all I can afford is six rolls of film. I set off to Woodstock and got horribly lost and was three hours late. I had never worked with a band of any stature before, let alone a group of great musicians. So I quickly rearranged the furniture and got everyone in. I did the shoot in an hour because I ran out of film. I remember driving back to New York certain I had failed and asking myself, “What the hell have I done with my life? Back in South Africa, I was doing good work as a doctor.

I develop the film and don’t like anything. But there’s one image that I think, “Okay, maybe I can work with it”. So I spend a week in the dark room dodging and burning. When I got to Bob’s studio, I’m too embarrassed so I pushed the picture in an envelope under the door. Then I go home and I don’t hear anything. Ten days pass and my friends convince me to call him.

"Robbie loves your picture so much we’ve decided not to use my shot. We’re going to use yours for the cover!” Bob shouts at me. Then he says, “I’ve got this idea. I’m not going to print it on the cover, I’m going to print it as a poster so when people buy the album and pull off the shrink wrap, what comes out is this poster which they can unfold.”

Within a few days of the album getting released, every bar I go to, there’s my picture. The album turned out to be a hit and suddenly I’m getting phone calls from art directors - “Do you have time to come in and see us? We really love your work.” I’m getting phone calls, I’m getting shoots, and my life has changed.”

PLEASE NOTE: Norman Seeff will only produce 50 prints plus 5 Artist Proofs from any single negative.
Prices therefore depend on the size you wish to purchase, and how many of the 50 have previously sold.

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The Band, Woodstock 1970 “Stagefright”
The Band, Woodstock 1970 “Stagefright”


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