Jim McCrary Photographed Over 300 Album Covers For A&M Records
Jim McCrary who will be remembered for taking in 1971 one of the most iconic album cover photos in music history, Carole King’s Tapestry, died at the age of 72 on April 29, 2012 of complications from a chronic nervous system disorder at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, CA.
McCrary was a self-taught photographer beginning his career in 1952. He worked for many years as staff photographer for several portrait studios and in the photography department of Rockwell International during the 1950’s and 1960’s. McCrary joined Herb Alpert’s and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records in 1967 as chief photographer. For the next seven years he photographed most of A&M’s albums, publicity and advertising work. Among his better known images are of Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens, Gram Parsons & The Carpenters.
McCrary left rock photography in the late 70’s after he felt he had lost touch with the music of the bands he was working with. His work won many awards from the Los Angeles & New York Art Directors Clubs, and appeared in several “Best” Album Cover books.
McCrary shared his talent and taught at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Tom Upton, who was once a student of McCrary’s in the 70’s said “…he was magnanimous and kind. He expected hard work and absolute transparency when reviewing work. He was the antithesis of the celebrity photographer as guru, popular at the time. He required no fealty or brown-nosing, just honesty and plain backgrounds so you had to engage your subject. He taught us about hard light and soft light in a portrait, and what the consequences were. You, the subject, the light, and no bull. His assignments were affectionately termed ‘McCrary Portraits’ by his students.”
Survivors include his son Jason McCrary and two brothers Wylee Dale McCrary and Doug McCrary.
To read the story about how Carol King’s Tapestry photo shoot unfolded, click here.