about the photographs
Michael Friedman, former Manager and Music Producer, found himself standing in the hurricane’s eye of America’s folk, rock & roll, and pop music industry during the late 60s through the early 80s.
Friedman had the good fortune of befriending, working, and traveling with many highly respected musical artists. While initially working as a publicist, and later as a manager and music producer, he was also an avid photographer.
Between 1969 and 1973, with a Pentax Camera and Tri-X film, Friedman photographed some of the most notable musicians of the time, on and off stage. But before he printed most of the photos, he lost track of the negatives and eventually considered them lost. Then, in 2017, after 45 years, Michael's wife Donna Vita discovered the long lost negatives in an old box of business records in the attic. She and Michael began the project of restoring the photographs, which is still a work in progress, with many images yet to be shared.
It turns out to be a remarkable collection of never-before-seen, candid, black and white photos of iconic musicians and performers, including The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, The Band, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Todd Rundgren and others.
Like a '60s Rock Time Capsule" says Andy Vasoyan, of The Argonaut, "every picture in this rediscovered photo collection really does tell a story." Due to his unique access and relationships with the artists, Friedman's candid photography was able to help capture the essence of that historic period in American folk, rock, and pop music.
"Looking back, I think of the late 60’s and the early 70’s as a sweet spot in the history of American music,” Friedman now says. “There were so many talented young songwriters and musicians during that era, and I was very fortunate as a young man to be working with some of the most enduring and iconic. Photographically, my aim was just to capture a moment. No one was posing for me, because I was not a hired photographer but rather part of their team and a friend. My hope is that many of the photos will give the viewer a glimpse of the artists as individuals, unselfconscious, relaxed, and just being themselves."
The collection just finished a year long exhibition at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where it will archived in their permanent collection.
Michael Friedman, Professor Longhair, Snooks Eaglin & Quint Davis. Woodstock, NY 1969
about michael friedman
Michael Friedman, Michael Pollard, Paul Butterfield & Janis Joplin. Backstage, Madison Square Garden. December 1969
Michael Friedman was a music publicist, artist manager, and music producer who started managing bands and producing records while still in college at the University of Arizona, selling his first record to Warner Brothers. His first job in the music business was as a publicist for the Mamas and Papas, Glen Campbell, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, The Turtles, and The Bee Gees. He then managed an unknown Todd Rundgren and his first band Nazz, producing the first “Hello it’s Me” at the age of 24.
In 1968, Michael went to work with the legendary music business manager Albert Grossman, best known for managing Bob Dylan. He helped run Grossman’s management firm (ABGM) in NY and brought Todd Rundgren along with him. Among the other notable artists Michael worked with at ABGM were Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield, Odetta, Ian and Sylvia, Ritchie Havens, Peter Paul and Mary, James Cotton, Todd Rundgren, Professor Longhair, Tom Rush, and Gordon Lightfoot. At the time, Albert Grossman Management was considered the premier music management company in the US.
By 1970, Michael had moved to Woodstock, NY, to help establish Grossman’s Bearsville Records and Bearsville Studios, producing 2 of Bearsville's first albums. He subsequently joined Bert Block in Connecticut, managing Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge.
1980, Michael joined Arista Records to work with Clive Davis as his executive assistant. He and Davis worked closely on various projects, including heading up the formation of Arista's music video department. His first two projects under the newly established division included "Dionne Warwick: Live in Las Vegas,” and the 1980 production of “The Kinks: One for the Road," filmed at the Providence Civic Center, which was the first feature length music video. These productions were joint ventures with Time Life Entertainment. The Kinks rock video marked an industry first, and the soundtrack resulted in the Arista double album, “One for the Road,” which went gold. Michael also oversaw all Arista distributed labels, including Dave Grusin’s and Larry Rosen’s Jazz label GRP Records.
Michael later went on to form The Empire Project, a music production and management firm in New York, Friedman Gallery, a high end antique & design gallery, as well as several restaurants in Connecticut. He is the author of "Cowboy Culture, The Last Frontier of American Antiques".