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Late, Great Rock Photographer Jim Marshal Honored At Grammys

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Sunday night the Grammys paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' 1st television appearance, commemorating the 50th anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The academy also paid tribute to a Bay Area legend who shot amazing photos of their last concert here in San Francisco.

On August 29, 1966 the Beatles played their last tour concert at Candlestick Park, though no one knew it at the time.

The only photographer allowed backstage to photograph the "Fab Four" was the legendary Jim Marshall of San Francisco.

KPIX interviewed Marshall about the event in 1990. He explained how he got the famous shots of the Beatles on the field.

"This is coming onto the stage at Candlestick, coming out of second base and I was running backwards," said Marshall, adding "they were having a good time."

"A moment in history that would never happen again -- and Jim got it," said his longtime assistant and good friend Amelia Davis.

Marshall died 4 years ago.

Now, the Recording Academy is honoring the late photographer with a Special Merit Award called a Trustees Award. It is given to individuals who made significant contributions to the field of recording.

"I think he'd pour himself a glass of whiskey and take a drink!" said Davis, "he'd be ecstatic."

Marshall saw himself as a historian with a camera. His photographs of musicians are intimate and unguarded.

"He gained their trust. And by gaining their trust, they really let him into their own world," said Davis. Davis is the sole beneficiary of his estate and allowed KPIX access to Jim's archives.

Marshall captured some of the most famous moments in rock history.

In the documentary "Woodstock", Santana's on stage, and right next to him, there's Jim Marshall.

Marshall loved musicians, fast cars, guns and cameras. He lived hard and fast and had quite a reputation.

"A lot of people perceive him as this crazy, gun-toting, knife-toting photographer. That was part of him. But that was just part of him," explained Davis.

Few have seen Marshall's photographs of rural Appalachia - where he lived with a coal mining family for months.

He refused to allow a national magazine to publish them after he read the reporter's account -- calling the report disrespectful.

The collection's now at the Smithsonian.

As for Davis, as his sole beneficiary, she's slowly sorting through an enormous archive.

"There's over a million images just in 35 millimeter black and white alone,": she exclaimed.

Her goal: to share them soon as possible, and to preserve Marshall's legacy.

To commemorate Marshall's Trustees Award, and the Beatles 50th anniversary, the Marshall Estate has released two exclusive collections through the San Francisco Art Exchange: a Beatles Portfolio that includes rare backstage photographs taken at Candlestick Park during their last concert; and a portfolio of photographs featuring Grammy winners taken by Marshall throughout the years.


Jim Marshall

SF Art Exchange Marshall Collections

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