For generations, the cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine has reflected popular culture.
As chief photographer for “Rolling Stone” from 1967 to 1970, Baron Wolman pioneered a new genre of iconic rock photography. When his friend was starting the magazine, in 1967, Wolman signed on as photographer for free.
“Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone,” an exhibit that opens on April 6 at the Upcountry History Museum, looks at how the photographers and editors of “Rolling Stone” guided the creation of the “rock star” persona, from concert to cover to icon.
In its infancy, “Rolling Stone” provided a national voice to the counter-culture and gave its readers unprecedented access to musicians before the days of personal branding. Wolman took an unobtrusive approach with his subjects and that technique resulted in photographs and magazine covers that captured a rawness and emotion of the artists and a generation.
“Backstage Pass” will allow visitors to rediscover the music they loved or discover these artists for the first time,” said Upcountry History Museum Curator of Collections Kelly Smith. “The photographs featured are from a period when the United States was in turmoil, but left us with music that inspired.”
Feeding the heightened political and cultural climate of the time, featured artists Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and Frank Zappa came to represent generational ideas through music, words and visual imagery.
“I really love music, and I can’t play music, and I feel a great affection for the people who can and make me happy,” Wolman told the Wilkes-Barre (Penn.) Times Leader in January. “Therefore, I tried in my photography to give them a level of excellence that matched the level of excellence of the music they were giving me.”
Wolman told the Times Leader he hoped the exhibit gives people a little understanding of what it was like to be alive in the 1960s.
“I always think that my pictures are a window into a very significant time in our society,” Wolman told the paper. “There were changes going on, very dramatic changes, and I think the music certainly played a role in those changes. This gives them an opportunity, just a brief opportunity, to experience visually what I experienced.”
The exhibit includes framed photographs, contact sheets and original magazine covers.
Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone
When: April 6 through May 22
Where: Upcountry History Museum
Admission: Adults: $6, Seniors 65 and up and college students with ID, $5; Children and students ages 4 to 18, $4; Children age 3 and under and museum members, free.