Project Description

Ken Regan’s photographs will be well-known to Bob Dylan fans, as his images appear on the cover of Desire, The Bootleg Series Volume 5 and Hard Rain. He was the exclusive official photographer on the first leg of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975.

Ken Regan took almost 14,000 photographs during his time with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. He had complete, unrestricted and exclusive access. For a professional photographer, it just didn’t get any better. As Ken recalled, “I had total access. I could walk into his dressing room at any given point and photograph anything he was doing. Bob had given me free rein to shoot it all—onstage, offstage, dressing rooms, parties, trailers, whatever was going on.”

The Rolling Thunder Revue was a tour of two halves, and Ken covered the first leg, with concerts starting on 30 October 1975 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and ending with a benefit concert for Rubin Carter at Madison Square Garden in New York on 8 December 1975. 

Ken passed away in 2012, and his estate looks after his archive. Individual images are available to purchase as posthumous estate authorised limited edition photographs. Some signed examples are also available, but quantities are low for these.

As you scroll down through the images you will also be able to read about a stunning large format limited edition book of Ken’s photographs from the tour.

Ken was the soul of discretion. He never talked in depth about his time on the tour—for good reason—he wanted his photographs do the talking. We hope you enjoy them.

Cup and bucket
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Bob Dylan close up profile with harmonica
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Bob Dylan at Niagara Falls
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Bob Dylan with bandana and band
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Bob Dylan smiling with guitar
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Desire session
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In harmonica frame
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Bob Dylan: Make-up session
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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at Mama Frasca’s Dream Away Lodge
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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez close up
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Dressing room
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Bob Dylan with Crystal Magick book
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In coat and hat from Desire album
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Bob Dylan in mirror with mask
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Bob Dylan smiling with band on stage
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Bob Dylan with Ali
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Bob Dylan with Hurricane Carter
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Bob Dylan  – The Only Innocent Hurricane
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Hat and scarf portrait
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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez – white faces
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Profile with hat and scarf
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On the phone with dog
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Bob Dylan, fur hat
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White face, pensive
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Bob Dylan, Smoke
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Bob Dylan recording
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Bob Dylan with Patti Smith
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Bob Dylan with Bruce Springsteen
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So just how did Ken Regan come to be the exclusive official photographer on the first leg of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975?

How did it come about? To answer that, we have to step back. It is the summer of 1975, and Ken Regan is at home in bed. The phone wakes him at 3 am, and on the line is Bill Graham’s partner, Barry Imhoff. Unsurprisingly given the hour, Ken thinks Barry is calling from the west coast and hasn’t taken the time difference into account. But Barry is in New York, and asks Ken what he is up to for the next couple of months. “I could be anywhere. Why, what’s up?”

Barry is circumspect. There is talk of a tour, something a little different. He then passes the phone to Lou Kemp, who introduces himself as a childhood friend of Bob Dylan, and tells Ken that he runs a company called Kemp Fisheries. He is co-promoting a tour for Bob Dylan, and they want Ken to photograph the entire tour and come on the road with them for a few months. It’s 3 am and Ken is incredulous. Dylan? Kemp Fisheries? What? He asks to get Barry Imhoff back on the phone. Ken is a straight talker from the Bronx: “Barry, if this is a f***ing joke, I’m gonna hunt you down and take you apart completely.”

Someone else comes on the line. Ken recognizes the voice immediately – it is Bob Dylan. He apologizes for waking Ken so early in the morning, and explains that Ken is in the frame as the photographer they are thinking of to document the tour. They arrange to meet and go through Ken’s portfolio, and discuss the tour. Ken is wide awake now, and ready to do it right there and then at 3am, but they agree to meet later that day at Studio Instrument Rentals’ space in Manhattan, where Bob Dylan is rehearsing. 

At the meeting, Bob explains that this is going to be a different kind of tour, lasting a few months, with Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and T-Bone Burnett on board already, and discussions on many others in progress. Everything is moving fast. Rehearsals are starting in a week, the first concert is at the end of October, and the tour finishes back in New York in the first half of December.

Ken would be the only photographer on the tour and would have complete access. “Bob had given me free rein to shoot it all—onstage, offstage, dressing rooms, parties, trailers, whatever was going on.” There is one minor caveat. Bob explains that his wife and children are going to be on the tour at various times, and while Ken can photograph them, he can’t release those pictures. Ken is hired that day. “We shook hands, and I never betrayed that trust.”

Bob Dylan live with yellow shirt
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Bob Dylan looking up with guitar
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Bob Dylan with harmonica
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Bob Dylan live close up
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Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Band
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Blue spotlight
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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in blue spotlight
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Bob Dylan on carpet in spotlight
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Red light
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“I was just sitting outside my house one day thinking about a name for this tour, when all of a sudden, I looked into the sky and I heard a boom. Then, boom, boom, boom, boom, rolling from west to east. So I figured that should be the name.”

– Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan in the snow, derelict building
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Bob Dylan in the snow
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Desire cover outtake
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Closeup in snowstorm
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Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg at Jack Kerouac’s grave
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Bob Dylan at grave with guitar
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Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, Grave
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Bob Dylan walking with Allen Ginsberg
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Bob Dylan with Joni Mitchell
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Bob Dylan with Joni Mitchell and Roger McGuinn
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Bob Dylan hand to chin
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Bob Dylan leading troupe across grass
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Bob Dylan backgammon
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Bob Dylan in mirror hand to face
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Bob Dylan full length live profile
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Bob Dylan with Joan Baez in dressing room
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Closeup with guitar
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Bob Dylan with guitar
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Rolling Thunder

Introducing a very special limited edition book

A large format limited edition book from Ormond Yard Press that you can display on your wall just like a work of art and enjoy every day.

Rolling Thunder: Photographs by Ken Regan, the limited edition book from Ormond Yard Press. 

Ormond Yard Press: Bringing You The Bigger Picture.

Rolling Thunder: Photographs by Ken Regan contains the very best of Ken Regan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue photographs of Bob Dylan – a tour on which he was official photographer. Incredibly, Ken’s Bob Dylan photographs have never been the subject of a dedicated book of their own, and many of the photographs in the book have not have been published before.

As with all previous Ormond Yard Press volumes, it is a book on a spectacular scale: a hardcover volume housed in its own printed slipcase and measuring 24 inches high x 18 inches wide (60x45cm) when closed, 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90cm) when open, with 96 pages of photographs. The physical scale may be large, but the edition size for Rolling Thunder is reassuringly small – just 750 individually numbered copies are available to collectors worldwide.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BIG BOOK
The front cover of Rolling Thunder in its slipcase

Biography

Ken Regan developed a passion for photography at a very young age. Raised in the Bronx, his world was New York City and it was in New York City that he would cut his teeth as a photojournalist. From the New York Yankees to the Fillmore East, Ken’s pictures told the story of a city during a time of transition, while they told his own story as well. Ken’s unparalleled knack for capturing a moment quickly paved the way to him becoming a respected member of the press community. No story was ever out of reach for him to cover. He could walk into an event without a press pass, and walk out with the next cover of Newsweek or Time. Humility would force him to shrug his shoulders and say “It was just the Bronx way”…but really it was Ken Regan’s way.

Ken had an eye for the instant, which became renowned throughout the industry. His career took a path that defied labeling, while so many of his peers were easing comfortably into a niche. With such a wide array of assignments thrown his way throughout the 1960’s, Ken learned how to cut artfully to the heart of anything that crossed his lens. He wasn’t specifically a sports photographer, a music photographer, a fashion photographer, or a landscape photographer. Ken was a photographer. To him that meant the self-assurance of knowing that he could approach a concert, a boxing match or a riot with the same visual attack that always gave his editors what they needed for print.

Photo-editors were not the only ones who knew that they could put their trust in Ken. It was his simple gestures of humanity towards those he worked for and with that always kept his name in the conversation.  Throughout his career Ken has photographed some of the most private people in politics, music, sports and film. He refused to selfishly exploit those he had the privilege to work with. It was his hardline stance on providing this comfort to his subjects that turned many of them into friends.

Ken Regan passed away on 25 November 2012 after a long battle with cancer.