Access All Areas: Photographing Musicians Backstage
Far away from the limelight of the stage, these candid photos capture a glimpse of life on the road for touring musicians
If we are to believe the rock star myths that pervade popular culture, the life of a touring musician is a glamorous one. From the stories of TVs being thrown out of hotel room windows to Van Halen’s infamous rider request for the removal of the brown M&Ms from a bowl of candy, going on tour is synonymous with crowds of adoring fans, hedonistic parties and outrageous diva demands. But what really happens backstage and in the dressing rooms of artists, hidden amongst warrens of labyrinthine concert venue hallways, remains largely a mystery.
Many Magnum photographers have crossed this threshold and gained access to these private scenes where, away from the public gaze, artists are able to let their guard down as they kill time between a cycle of travel, soundchecks and promotional duties. Far away from the limelight of the stage, their candid photos capture the highs and lows that accompany life on the road, from raucous dressing room parties and backstage antics to moments of solitude and quiet preparation. Through these photos we are privy to a series of intimate moments that reveal a side to a series of legendary musicians that we don’t often see: Bruce Davidson captures The Supremes having some down time backstage at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, Philip Jones Griffiths photographs a trouserless Ringo Starr signing autographs for fans, while Ian Berry finds Dusty Springfield half-asleep as she waits for a taxi to take her back to her hotel after a show.