Ed Finnell’s concert photos of ’70s rock gods headed to auction

Ed Finnell’s photograph of David Bowie as the Thin White Duke, taken during the 1976 ‘Station to Station’ tour

Ed Finnell’s photograph of David Bowie as the Thin White Duke, taken during the 1976 ‘Station to Station’ tour

STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK – Original photographs of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Robert Plant, and Elton John performing will appear for sale at Sworders next month. The Design auction on July 14 includes a cache of prints taken by music photographer Ed Finnell at legendary gigs held in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

Born in LA in 1956, Ed Finnell became interested in photography at the age of 10 or 11 years old, his subject matter turning to rock and roll in the late 1960s. He attended his first concerts in 1972, and thereafter shot every major band that came through his city. At the Pirate Sound Rehearsal Space in Hollywood, he met many performers, and some chose to use his work in promotional materials or hired him for official tour shoots. In addition to publication in countless books, magazines, and tour programs, Finnell’s photographs have appeared on four Rolling Stones album covers.

Ed Finnell’s 1975 image of Mick Jagger on the ‘Tour of the Americas’

Ed Finnell’s 1975 image of Mick Jagger on the ‘Tour of the Americas’

Signed limited edition prints of photos taken during The Who’s Quadrophenia tour, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellowbrick Road tour and Rod Stewart and The Faces’ Ooh La La tour are included in the sale. Each are estimated at around £200-£300 each.

Finnell photograph of Elton John on the 1974 ‘Goodbye Yellowbrick Road’ tour

Finnell photograph of Elton John on the 1974 ‘Goodbye Yellowbrick Road’ tour

David Bowie, the subject of some of Finnell’s most iconic shots, was the photographer’s favorite, his stage sets always proving “photographer lighting friendly”. The auction includes some of his best known images of Bowie, including Bowie as The Thin White Duke from the Station to Station tour (photographed at the Los Angeles Forum on February 9, 1976), estimated at £250-£350, and Bowie as Ziggy Stardust during the eponymous tour (taken at Long Beach Arena on March 10, 1973) at £200-£300.

Image of Keith Richards on the 1975 ‘Tour of The Americas,’ taken by Finnell

Image of Keith Richards on the 1975 ‘Tour of The Americas,’ taken by Finnell

Led Zeppelin sets were always more challenging as “the lighting was terrible – dark and evil.“ Nonetheless, Finnell took some epoch-defining images of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant including those from the Physical Graffiti Tour, most notably on March 27, 1975.

Eric Clapton on the 1976 ‘No Reasons to Cry’ tour, shot by Finnell

Eric Clapton on the 1976 ‘No Reasons to Cry’ tour, shot by Finnell

Finnell estimates he has amassed close to 200,000 concert negatives during the last 49 years. He still prints his photographs, typically gelatin silver prints, in the old-fashioned way in a dark room using the original negatives.

Although he has sold his prints through galleries in Europe and the US, this is his first time his work is available at auction in the UK. “I like auctions,” he said. “I am an old hippie. People can buy direct from an auction house with less fees than if buying from a gallery. Gallery overheads are too high.”

Click to visit Sworders auction house online.

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