Donald Silverstein’s sole session with Jimi Hendrix produced one of the most important and well known photographs of the incendiary guitarist.
Here it is, alongside.
London, 1967. Jimi Hendrix stands in front of a roll of ‘no-seam’ background paper in the Riding House Street studio of US-born, British-based photographer Donald Silverstein. Jimi’s star is firmly in the ascendency, with a first album released to critical acclaim earlier in the year, and a second album due soon.
He looks into the camera, his jacket off, his shirt open, revealing a fine set of abs. This powerful image originally appeared on a poster issued by Track Records, and has been heavily bootlegged subsequently. Hendrix aficionados who have seen that original poster will know that the contrast was notched up to 11 by the designer, and as a result it was very difficult to pick out detail. Seeing the photograph as Donald Silverstein took it is a complete revelation. It is as if years of caked-on mud have been removed to reveal an finely detailed original. The individual strands of his hair are like wire wool, just one of many intricate details picked up by the fine grain on the Kodak Verichrome Pan film that Donald had loaded into his Hasselblad for the shoot.
The camera captured Hendrix’s huge hands, the tufted cords on his trousers, the oversized Mexican influenced medallion hanging on his chest, the richly detailed floral shirt and cufflinks, the rings and belts. This was Hendrix at the peak of his powers, confident in front of the camera, with just the right level of self assurance.
This is an incredibly important Jimi Hendrix photograph. “Iconic” is a very overused term, but in this instance it really is justified.