Tag Archives: Jim McCrary

The New York Times Obituaries Occasionally Celebrates Low-Lifes, Yet Ignores Deserving Artists and Notables

Who Gets A New York Times Obituary Write-up?

What do legendary blues and heavy metal guitarist, Gary Moore, rock album photographer Jim McCrary and playwright, screenwriter, author and jazz champion Max Wilk all have in common?

When they died, The New York Times did not cover their deaths in the obituary column. We all know space is limited, but these people were significant in their artistic fields, enriching the lives of countless others.  It would be nice had the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record” recorded and noted their amazing lives. But The Times editors felt these people were not deserving.

The official policy about who the The Times decides to write up is :

When we look to see whether someone had made a newsworthy impact in some way — who “made a wrinkle in the social fabric,” — we don’t equate significance with fame. In point of fact, 9 out of 10 people we write about are indeed not household names (the 10th is — a movie star, a secretary of state). But that doesn’t negate their importance. Most made their marks in quiet ways, out of the public limelight, but they still made a mark, possibly on your life and mine.

So who is deserving?

Apparently an unremarkable low-life, graffiti tagger, StayHigh 149, a.k.a.  Wayne Roberts , can get a full write-up.

Yes, Roberts definitely, as The Times puts it, “made a mark on your life and mine.”

More like a blemish.

Especially in New York City in the 1970’s when the city was bombarded with the eyesore of graffiti defacing public and private property.

As is noted in the obituary, this great man (sarcasm) in the 1960’s was working as a messenger on Wall Street and smoking about an ounce of marijuana a week, earning the Stay High nickname.

Inspired by other vandals tagging subway cars, he then began defacing public property.

Chris Pape a fellow graffiti  afficianado says in the Times obituary:

“He (Roberts) rode empty trains all day with markers in his pocket, and he wrote everywhere.” By the early ’80s, Pape said, drugs had begun to take their toll. Roberts left his World Trade Center job, and his wife, because of his drug use. “He was a functional junkie who occasionally did time in prison for stupid things,” Pape said. “He was like that for 20 years. He didn’t want to be found.”

For some reason, I can only think of the millions of wasted dollars that it cost taxpayers to eradicate the vandalism this cretin created.  As I have said before – graffiti is definitely not art.

This is the sort of person The New York Times chooses to cover in their obituaries?

For the record, when one of the most influential singers in heavy metal history, Ronnie James Dio, died on May 16, 2010, the following day The Times devoted 493 words to summing up his life.

Graffiti vandal Wayne Roberts had 838 words written about him.

Jim McCrary, Rock Photographer Dies at 72, Famous For Carole King Tapestry Photos

Jim McCrary Photographed Over 300 Album Covers For A&M Records

Cover Photograph to Carole King’s Tapestry Album

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.

Jim McCrary self-portrait 1978

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.

Carole King, Tapestry & The Art Of The Album Cover

The Story Of The Tapestry Photo Shoot And Some Out-takes

One of the best selling albums of all time is Carole King’s Tapestry from 1971. The appealing cover image of Carole King sitting in the living room of her home in Laurel Canyon, CA was taken by rock n’ roll photographer Jim McCrary. An interesting sidenote was that King’s cat Telemachus was moved while sitting on the pillow from across the room by McCrary to be used in the final cover shot.

We identify famous covers and just accept that is the cover. The conclusion is “it’s the right cover!”  In Tapestry’s case, McCrary’s use of the cat definitely helps draw the viewer in.

Tapestry

What if a different cover had been used?

Here are four other photos from The Tapestry shoot

   

March 2 is the premiere of PBS’s “American Masters” which features Carole King in Troubadors: Carole King / James Taylor & The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter.