We’ve received some strange and sad news at the Jeff today. An old acquaintance, the legendary rock and roll photographer Jim Marshall, has died in New York at the age of 74.
Back in the roaring seventies, my old pal Will Mosgrove and I would gather up Marshall for his work furlough from jail (aggravated assault, if I remember correctly), and he would help Will around his photo studio in China Basin (San Francisco). Marshall was twenty years my senior, and had somehow survived the fifties and sixties, making numerous iconic photos of jazz greats and rock ‘n’ rollers. He was a consummate 35mm photogger with an innate sense of timing and a nose for historic moments.
Lately, I’d been running into Marshall at La Mediteranee on Noe and Market, which is where I’ve hung out for the past twenty years. The hummus is really good, and the co-owner is Ellen Sinaiko, an old dear friend that lets me eat for nuthin’, so long as I tip the waitress a tenner.
So, last week we were in SF. We ate like royalty at La Med. Afterward, we stroll down Market Street and see one of Marshall’s books remainder-ed for $14.95. I buy it, and leave it with Ellen so Marshall can sign it for me the next time he came to the restaurant, which he frequented often.
Tonight, Ellen sent us an email, saying ‘no can do’.
Marshall was certainly a cantankerous and obnoxious SOB, but, as Ellen said, “he was sweet in his own way.” He seemed to have found some peace and solace from his demons as he grew older. Perhaps a fitting epitaph would read:
“He crawled with lepers and lawyers, but he was tall on his own hind legs…” (Hunter S. Thompson)