Monday, April 03, 2006

I’ve Got An Idea

I originally thought the seed for the idea of Everybody I Shot Is Dead came after I saw Cameron Crowe’s, ALMOST FAMOUS back in September of 2000. Have you ever been in a movie theater and watched your life unfold on the screen? It was strange, yet wistful. I mean, I did it all – the Continental Riot House: yup, I did a couple weeks hanging out there with the roadies from Deep Purple on my first visit from Vancouver; the backstage scene: yup, more than a hundred times; the bus tour with the band: yup, mine was in Eastern Canada with Canned Heat in the dead of winter. The only difference was I’m a girl and my weapon of choice was a camera as well as a pen (I used to write [poorly] articles about upcoming concerts for a small newspaper in Vancouver).

Almost Famous came out around the time I was writing my first screenplay. Thankfully, unlike most screenwriters out of the gate, I wasn’t in the middle of penning my own autobiographical screenplay. However, the movie did make me think about doing something with all the photographs I had packed away in various boxes. Photographs that I had never published (except a shot of Lowell George that he requested for the inside of Waiting For Columbus).

I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I only knew I didn’t want to do ‘just another concert photography book.’ It wasn’t until three years later that the title, Everybody I Shot Is Dead, popped into my head. I was probably just waking up in bed or in the shower – my two fertile spots for ideas.

For a while I was thinking of doing a Limited Edition of high quality prints. Pick my favorite photograph of each of the musicians who had died and put them out as a tribute. Then after not thinking about it and thinking about it, I thought it would be fun to write a book with the focus on the photographs. Finally, a few months ago my thoughts floated back to Almost Famous and I decided, while it would still be a high quality photography book, the written part would focus on my personal stories – what it was like to be a young girl in the midst of this crazy and magical rock’n’roll world.

Oh, and as it turns out, Almost Famous wasn’t the original inspiration for this idea…I used to keep sporadic diaries, sometimes in notebooks, other times on bits of paper. I recently came across this journal entry from when I was first starting out:
“To this point I’ve worked with Jesse Winchester, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Tom Northcott, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Mike Bloomfield, Redbone, Jerry Lee Lewis, CommanderCody, Shawn Phillips, Rory Gallagher, Paul Butterfield, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Tim Buckley. After tonite I can add Van Morrison to the list. Some day I’m going to have to write some memoirs on life working with rock & roll stars. I could write all sorts of stories about what they’re really like.”


Dan-D said...

Hey Deborah, I love the idea of this project. I live in the Vancouver area. Did you ever take any photos of the local music scene up here?

Chesher Cat said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your comment on the idea. I hope the finished book will live up to the vision I have in my head. I did shoot some local Vancouver bands on occasion but mostly bands that already had recording contracts - like Bachman Turner Overdrive, the Guess Who and Chilliwack. I also have more lesser known groups that I haven't sorted through yet - some that I shot for Shelly Siegal (Mushroom Records) of Heart fame.

At some point I may post a list of groups I shot, at least the ones I still have pictures of. Hopefully, I will find everything.

Harry Funk said...

Wow, I've always thought that was a great shot of Lowell, with that expression on his face. To tell the truth, that was the first photo I'd ever seen of him, when a friend insisted on playing "Waiting for Columbus" ... over and over again. (I've written about that experience on my blog.)

I'm "old school" when it comes to Little Feat -- anything without Lowell doesn't cut it!

The more I see of your work, the more I'm looking forward to seeing your book when you get it together. Fantastic stuff!!!

Chesher Cat said...

Gee Harry, I'm honored to have played a part in your Lowell George devirginization.

Harry Funk said...

That's a new one for the dictionary!!